It’s been a while since I’ve read a Julie Garwood book but I have a whole shelf of them so I figured I’d check out her newest contemporary book. Sweet Talk is just that, almost nauseatingly so. I found the characters way too perfect. Everyone is gorgeous, kind, charitable to a ridiculous degree, and all with genius level intellects. The bad guys are bad without any real reason but tend to make near comical mistakes while the good guys are so perfect and caring I kept rolling my eyes at them. Flaws of any kind don’t exist in this fantasy land. On the up side the plot is decent and I actually liked many of the concepts of the book, the writing just couldn’t quite flesh them out well enough.
The premise of their introduction is actually one of the better highlights. The leading good guy is Grayson, a typical growly, possessive alpha male FBI agent that is taking care of his nephew and the main female lead is Olivia, predictably a gorgeous but head strong do-gooder that works at the IRS. Their first meeting is a really great intro and one of the few scenes that had me straight up grinning and laughing. I love the opposition of pitting the IRS against the FBI and wish this thread had been continued, especially given the later plot point about Olivia’s father and his financial scheming. Unfortunately other than this one inspired scene, Olivia’s job at the IRS is a moot and forgettable point. She mostly exists to be a pawn and bossed around by Grayson.
Which brings me to the issue of the characters themselves. As I’ve mentioned, everyone is perfect. We’re told over and over and over and over again how gorgeous Olivia is, how beautiful, how magical, how amazing. The same is true for God-like Grayson. These two are basically gods in the flesh with how wonderful they are. They’re rich, beautiful, caring, and only want to help the downtrodden and pour without any recognition at all. They want to stop the bad guys, but only because they’re hurting innocent people. This kind of one-dimensional exaggeration happens repeatedly in the book and not only within the numerous characterizations. The sex scenes are awash in overly romantic and eye-rolling behavior. It’s sweet but too much. Yes, it’s nice they can’t keep their hands off each other but she doesn’t need to “cuddle his erection” so much.
Another problem I encountered was the plethora of random seeming scenes thrown in for little reason. There are several scenes that are nice enough, but don’t seem to have any real point. For example, the scene with Henry and the bully is one I quite enjoyed but didn’t have any connection to the narrative. Additionally Olivia’s relationship to the other pips, and their mysterious cancer that is never identified, is very superficial. They have no real depth or connection beyond the fact that they’re invented to be friends. The scene of Sam recounting a heroic story to Olivia is completely out of place and had me wondering if I missed a chapter somewhere.
The romance itself is nice, if predictable. I would have liked more actual work on Olivia’s part into her father’s dealings and some better resolution about her family situation. Likewise some explanation about Olivia’s change of mind regarding marriage, other than really great sex, would have been nice. Overall Sweet Talk is an ok read (or listen on audiobook) but not one I’ll remember past the last page. I’m curious about the other pips and their inevitable books but only if they have more depth than this plastic Ken and Barbie couple.