Sweet Talker is one of those good-but-kinda-flawed romances. Imperfect though it may be, it’s still enjoyable enough to earn a light recommendation.
Jetsetting entrepreneur Ethan Auprince has a good life. A loving brother to single brothers Finn (hero of book one in the series) and Drew (hero of the as-yet-unreleased book three), and owner of the hottest restaurant on the west coast, he’s the kind of guy anyone would want in their life. But someone is targeting Ethan, trying to scare him with threatening messages and creepy packages, and he has no clue which of his many business – or romantic – dealings might have won him such negative attention.
Enter Pascale (Callie) Nichols, hired gun who’s here to protect Ethan – something she’s keeping a secret from him, because no way would the man accept a bodyguard. Pascale has been everywhere and done everything over the past few years as she’s followed the whims of her job. So she’s posing as the new manager of his restaurant and secretly learning the job on the fly while excelling at it.
But Pascale and Ethan share a past. They shared a summer-long Maui fling and he’d thought she was the one, only to have her completely disappear. Ethan has never gotten over Pascale, but Pascale (so she insists) long ago got over Ethan. She’s going to keep this connection professional – but with danger calling and temptation tugging at them, it will be a mighty contest.
Ethan is a caring enough guy, though he comes off a bit self-centered on occasion, even though he sometimes comes off as bro-ey and he’s one of those heroes who goes ‘hey baby, here’s a picture of a beaver that reminded me of you!’. Yes, literally.
But Pascale – brusque and wry – reads as somewhat less interested in Ethan than Ethan does in her for most of the book. He’s still over the moon for that cool girl he was with so many months before, but she’s so reluctant and determined to be a detached professional that, aside from their pronounced sexual chemistry and fun banter, it’s hard to believe them as life partners (also, the way the author keeps bouncing between calling Pascale by her full name and her nickname was rather distracting).
There are plenty of fun supporting characters. I loved Ethan’s relationship with his brothers, which felt both realistic and properly brotherly. I liked sassy Grandma Rosemary and I liked Ethan’s relationship with his co-workers.
I must admit that the tension around the suspense plot gets lost in the fluffy lightness of the romance between Pascale and Ethan. This is supposed to be a crime that’s so scary his family hired a bodyguard to protect him and – well, let’s just say the solution is less than satisfying.
Sweet Talker has some fun dialogue and a pretty decent hero to follow. It’s not wholly sweet, but it’s also not a waste of time.