Sometimes books improve as they go along, but with this one, the opening scene pretty much symbolizes all the problems I had with the rest of the story. Unrealistic and silly, and not a whole lot of fun.
Audra Walker is a lingerie designer celebrating her promotion with her friends at a club. Unfortunately, her friends are about to turn the tables on her – they think she’s gotten far too committed to her career, forgetting the principles of the Wicked Chicks, their little group. Wicked Chicks enjoy life, drinks, and dudes. In order to remain part of their group, they dare her to seduce the next guy who walks into the bar.
At first, Audra thinks she’s lucked out, as the guy standing at the entrance is smoking hot and wouldn’t be any chore to choose for a fling. But then a geeky guy pushes him aside and enters and she’s stuck with the challenge of having to connect with him.
As it turns out, the hot guy is Jesse Martinez, a detective for an online crimes division, and he’s actually there tracking the geek for his involvement in a criminal organization. Audra does end up pursuing Jesse, but he ends up having to exercise restraint. Though he is instantly attracted to her, having witnessed her interacting with his main suspect, he knows she might be guilty of criminal activity.
Books in this category always require the reader to suspend disbelief, but this is just absurd. It’s not simply that the opening scene, and the following ones, strike a false note – it’s that they strike a sour one. It’s unbelievable that women in their mid-twenties would threaten to throw an old friend out of their group (who has cliques…with names…after junior high?) and pose a dare in order for her to remain.
When talking to Jesse, Audra mentions how she’s feeling pressured by her “gang” of friends, which of course Jesse interprets the wrong way. A string of ridiculous coincidences confirm Audra’s guilt in his eyes, and, of course, this gets in the way of their developing relationship. Their scenes of interaction are thus constantly interrupted by Jesse trying to remember to restrain himself, acting in an ethical manner, discreetly questioning Audra, and so on, all while she remains completely clueless and tries to have a good time.
Jesse is a decent guy, if you can get over how far he goes with Audra while still thinking she’s guilty (which I couldn’t, as it’s pretty far). Not even the love scenes can be enjoyed when the two are in such completely different mindsets.
Audra feels conflicted over her current career/personal choices and the lifestyle demands of being a Wicked Chick, a shallow dilemma to be sure. There are serious moments, as Audra had a troubled childhood and Jesse has father issues, but realistic problems and moments are difficult to take seriously in conjunction with continuing references to the way of the Wicked Chicks, and Audra’s efforts to prove what a bad girl she can be. The mystery with the criminal geek is full of holes while subplots involving Audra’s other friends are pointless.
I love a book that qualifies as a guilty pleasure, but this one had too many faults to overlook, and I could never suspend the mountain of disbelief required to enjoy it.