I like paranormal romances. Though they feature creatures and situations that are out of this world, there can often be a sort of sameness about them. Either the plots involve time travel or the characters are witches, werewolves, or vampires. Shocking Behavior is none of the above.
Almost everyone in Pecan Grove, Texas, thinks Dr. Herschel Drake is a crackpot drunk. Dr. Drake has taught at the local college, but mostly he has buried himself in his work and in the bottle. His son, Jerome (J.T.) left town as soon as he could and now works as a journalist and true-crime writer. J.T. tried several times to get his father into rehab, but was unsuccessful, so he has asked the next door neighbor, Mrs. Moody, to keep an eye on his father and call J.T. if needed.
One day Mrs. Moody calls, J.T. comes to town, and accidentally gets caught in the electromagnetic refractor – the big invention his father’s been working on for years. Lightning flashes, the machine goes ZAP! – and J.T. is now invisible. Observing the accident is Dr. Roselyn Peabody, one of Dr. Drake’s former students, and the only person in town who doesn’t think her old teacher is an alcoholic crackpot.
For an invisible man, J.T. is rather calm about the whole thing, but that’s because he thinks his father can reverse the process. When it turns out Dr. Drake can’t remember all the equations and procedures, things get complicated. However, Dr. Drake does have the notes he needs to reverse the process. Trouble is, the notes are in the hands of Anthony Domani, a smooth businessman/thug who financed the project that developed the refractor years ago. A man named Reneau, a traitor on the project, succeeded in taking the notes, and killing several of the scientists as well as Dr. Drake’s wife. Dr. Drake and J.T. have been living in the witness protection program ever since. All this is a big surprise to J.T.
Domeni and Reneau now live in Las Vegas. So does Rosy’s mother Darla, a former showgirl and employee of Domeni. Darla hates Domeni with a passion and willingly goes along with Rosy and J.T.’s plan for her to pretend to get cozy with him at a big party so J.T. can find the plans for the refractor.
Shocking Behavior was a lot of fun; I haven’t read such a good invisible man story since Anne Stuart’s Cinderman. J.T.’s invisibility made for some humorous moments; when J.T. kissed Rosy in public other people could see her face, but obviously nothing more. There is a love scene that is passionate and funny too, since Rosy can see only the part of J.T. that is covered by a glow-in-the-dark condom.
I loved Rosy. I am a pushover for scientist heroines and Rosy was easy to like. Growing up, Rosy always felt like a fish out of water, was the class nerd, and had difficulty feeling like she fit in. She and Dr. Drake bonded as student and teacher – one misfit to another – and she has a warm, daughterly relationship with him. Rosy and J.T. begin life on an odd note – she only knows what he looks like from the picture on his book jacket, but they warm to each other quickly. I was also touched by Rosy’s relationship with her mother. Rosy’s a scientist, Darla is a showgirl, they could not be more different, but they are family and they love and care for each other.
Perhaps it was because he was invisible for so long that I had a harder time warming up to J.T., but I did eventually like him, too. Having grown up with an eccentric father who drank too much, J.T. felt as much an outsider as Rosy and had learned to shield himself by withdrawing. His relationship with Rosy brings him back to home and family which is ultimately good for both of them.
While this was an enjoyable read, the quantity of coincidences required more than a little suspension of disbelief. Yes, we’re talking invisibility here, which requires a fair amount of suspension to begin with, but of all the people in the world, it’s Rosy’s mother who has a relationship with the man who has the plans for the refractor. And when Rosy and J.T. are flying to Vegas, they meet a kid on the plane, and the kid not only just happens to be Reneau’s grandson, he’s also a computer whiz who can help them get the plans.
If you are looking for a paranormal romance that’s a change from the same old time travel or magical creature scene, give Shocking Behavior a try, it’s a goodie.