by Julie GarwoodContemporary Romance
August 7th 2012 by Brilliance Corporation
ARC from 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.
Olivia MacKenzie shows up for a job interview and finds herself right smack in the middle of an FBI sting but not before the target tries to do her some serious harm. FBI Agent Grayson Kincaid intervenes and is immediately drawn to the very attractive Olivia. He uses the case to wrangle a meeting and both realize there's an attraction. It doesn't take long for Grayson to become inserted into Olivia's life.
Olivia comes from an extremely dysfunctional family, with her father being the lead head case. She suffered from a potentially terminal disease when she was about ten years old and was sent to Washington, DC for treatment with three other young girls, all having the same affliction. These girls (nicknamed the "pips") became her lifelong friends as the only member of Olivia's family who ever came to see her during this time was her Aunt Emma.
There was quite a bit going on in the story with attempts being made on Olivia's life, her developing romance with Grayson and its inherent conflict with his job responsibity as an agent to protect her, and her father's possible illegal business practices. Add that to her unbelievably insensitive mother and sister and you had to wonder why Olivia was so normal. Her Aunt Emma and the pips seemed to be the only constancy in an otherwise peculiar upbringing.
I found the book to be interesting and really liked Olivia and Grayson but their romance had some troublesome parts. Grayson would initiate these interludes with Olivia and then disappear for extended periods, for legitimate reasons, but wouldn't communicate with her about it. Olivia never called him to task about it, thinking she wasn't really in a relationship. It caused me to take some shine off of Grayson for an extended part of the story. But, they were a really good couple when it worked.
The suspense part of the story could have had more tension. Olivia was on a mission to expose her father's fraudulent business practices and this put her in his and others crosshairs. It was pretty clear who was orchestrating the attempts on Olivia's life, even with the few red herrings to distract you. The climax should have been more compelling but was still satisfying.
I'm a big fan of Garwood's romantic suspense series. While this one isn't technically considered a part of it, there is a mention of how Grayson connects with characters from the Buchanan series. Watch for it!
I liked the story, wasn't crazy about the romance for most of it but in the end it fell into place quite nicely. I'm hoping that some of Olivia's friends (hint, hint, Collins) get their own stories in future books as they were quite interesting in their own rights. If you're a fan of the series, this book should be on your shelf.