Review – Sweet Talk by Julie Garwood

Publisher: Dutton
Publish Date: Out Now
How I got this book: NetGalley

When FBI agent Grayson Kincaid first encounters Olivia MacKenzie, she makes quite an impression.

The beautiful, tough, young attorney has stumbled into the middle of an FBI sting operation and has reduced it to chaos. Months of surveillance and careful planning down the drain, Kincaid’s partner is furious and lets Olivia know that she’s ticked off the wrong guy. After all, he’s FBI.

Olivia isn’t intimidated by his partner’s bullying because she’s something even scarier . . . she’s IRS.

And working for the IRS isn’t for the faint of heart. She’s on the trail of an elaborate Ponzi scheme, one that threatens to ruin the lives of naive and unsuspecting victims, and one she has personal reasons to be angry about. But after she asks questions of the wrong people, her life is suddenly endangered. She’s accustomed to fighting for the underdog but being vulnerable herself is a very different story. Smart enough to know when to call for reinforcements, she contacts Grayson Kincaid.

Together they make an excellent team to fight corruption but Olivia is also fighting the immediate and intense attraction she feels for Agent Kincaid, and that may be a battle she is bound to lose.
*Blurb from Goodreads*

I’m fairly new to the Julie Garwood fan club. Yes, yes, I know, her early works are amazing, and I’ll get to them eventually. While I liked Sweet Talk, there were quite a few things that didn’t really work for me throughout the book as well.

After discovering some very disconcerting information about her father, Olivia has vowed to do whatever is necessary to discover the truth and bring him down. Her job at the IRS is one she loves doing, and gives her the opportunities she needs to research her father. But when she takes an interview with another firm, she is thrown into the middle of an FBI sting and suddenly finds herself constantly in danger.

FBI agent Grayson is immediately taken with Olivia, and will go to any lengths to protect her, especially when he finds out she has nothing to do with the FBI. When the death threats start rolling in and Olivia ends up in the hospital, Grayson has to figure out just who wants Olivia dead. Was it the man she interviewed with, or a deeper and darker plot having to do with Olivia’s father?

There were some things I enjoyed in this, and some that really didn’t work for me. I was a little confused by how blase Olivia was in the beginning of the book, especially since she was tossed into a high-stress situation that even the most hardened FBI agents would think twice about. Yet Olivia just went about her day as if nothing had happened. Although we got to see a bit of her childhood, and how traumatic her illness was, I doubt the events of the beginning of the book would be something any normal woman would be able to let roll of her back.

Also, there was a sub-plot with one of Olivia’s best friends that didn’t really seem to make all that sense to me. It was thrown in the side, and really didn’t seem to have much to do with Olivia’s story. I’m not sure if Garwood is setting up this side character to have a book of her own in the future or what, but if this book is a stand-alone, I really didn’t understand why this part of the story was told.

Besides those two points, I really did enjoy the story. I loved getting a glimpse into Olivia’s childhood illness, especially since we got to see the connection she made with her four other friends. I sincerely do hope that Garwood tells stories for all these girls, as I enjoyed each and every one of them. And although Olivia’s actions in the first few chapters seems out of the norm, I really did like her character. Despite the pain of her childhood and the distance her family put between them, Olivia is strong and secure and a very sweet friend.

Grayson was also a fun character, constantly struggling with his attraction to Olivia. He was fighting the push and pull of being with her and working on a case that involved her, and I enjoyed his struggle with it. I have to say though, if I was in Olivia’s shoes, I don’t think I would have let Grayson get away with the wishy-washy come-and-go behavior he had toward their relationship in the first half of the book. But I was glad to see that once he committed to falling for her, he was in it 100% and willing to do anything and everything to get her to be his.

Their relationship felt a little different than most romantic suspense relationships in that there was a lot of back and forth, should we be together or shouldn’t we. There seemed to be a significant amount of time between interactions with these two – they sometimes wouldn’t talk or speak for months. It was an odd relationship, and while at times it didn’t work for me, there were other times it seemed to even all out.

All in all this isn’t my favorite Garwood read, but I did enjoy it. The suspense plot played out well with the uncertainty of who was after Olivia and why.  I really loved Olivia’s childhood friends and hope that we get to see more of them. And even though the core romance was, at times, difficult for me to understand, I enjoyed Olivia and Grayson together.
I give Sweet Talk a C


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