Monday, November 4, 2013

Digital Review: Everything You Need To Know

When I first heard about Harlequin teaming up with Cosmo to launch the new digital line "Red Hot Reads," I'll admit I had certain preconceived notions.  When I think of Cosmopolitan magazine I think of sex, fun, a bit of glamor, a bit of that "upwardly mobile" stuff and hot guys.  Frankly walking into this new publishing endeavor thinking Heavy Soul-Crushing Angst would just be plain ol' nutty.

HelenKay Dimon has spent the last couple of years working within the Harlequin Intrigue universe.  Because of that it's easy to lose sight of the fact that she started her career publishing with Kensington Brava.  Brava, while probably considered tame in the wake of all that has followed, was one of the first mainstream erotic romance imprints - which means to say they're "sexy books."  Oh sure, Dimon writes a very good romantic thriller, but she's hardly a stranger to writing sexy, and Everything You Need To Know is a good reminder that she's not a one-trick pony.

Single women dating in Washington D.C. should get hazard pay.  After breaking up with her disastrous ex (he sort of forgot to mention he was already engaged!) and getting downsized from her job, Jordan McAdam gets a genius idea.  She starts a membership only dating web site called Need To Know.  For a fee, women join the site and can get the dirt, from other members, about the men they're dating.  For her part, Jordan is now working as a secretarial temp following up on some of the dirt that gets dished on her web site.  Which is how she meets elusive eligible bachelor Forest Redder.  Forest is at Jordan's latest temp job to put the kibosh on a deal with Jordan's temp boss - a guy who urinated on his last date's front porch after she wouldn't invite him in for an after dinner "drink."

Needless say, sparks fly.  Forest is so intrigued that he ends up running Jordan to ground even though he only has her last name to go by.  In turn, Jordan is intrigued by this sexy, successful man - even though he's the type of guy she has vowed to stay away from.  The fly in the ointment?  Their own personal baggage (he's the family black sheep, she's got a mother who has been married more times than Elizabeth Taylor) and the wee small fact that Jordan's identity as the owner of the infamous Need To Know web site is a big ol' secret.

This novella basically details "the chase" and "the fallout" once both characters learn to trust and let go of their secrets.  What I appreciated is that even with a Big Secret plot, Dimon doesn't have her characters resort to silly misunderstandings or temper tantrums.  In other words, Forest doesn't throw a big ol' hissy fit and behave like a toddler when he discovers that Jordan hasn't unloaded all her secrets to him the moment they hit the sheets.  It was nice to read about two characters, while both screwed up in their own ways, that didn't behave like petulant babies.

What didn't work quite as well for me was the pacing.  I cannot quite put my finger on it, but even reading this story in one sitting, it just felt a little "off" to me.  Maybe Jordan spending too much time with her BFF Elle in the beginning?  Maybe taking a little too long setting up the tango between Forest and Jordan?  Or maybe I'm just a deviant and wanted the Sexy Times to show up a teensy bit sooner.  Honestly, I could see some readers being surprised by that (pleasantly and unpleasantly).  There is hot sex in this story, but the novella isn't wall-to-wall-nothing-but-bumping-uglies.  There's, you know, an actual plot here.  So depending on what type of reader you are?  That could be a good or bad thing.

I mostly found it a very good thing.  I enjoy Dimon's cat-and-mouse-style thrillers, but I also really liked a number of her sexy contemporaries prior to her move to the Intrigue line.  Reading this novella is a good example that an author really can go home again.

Final Grade = B-

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