Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Review: For the Love of Pete by Julia Harper

What happens when opposites attract?

Free-spirited Zoey Addler is about to hijack a federal agent. And not just any federal agent, but very Special Agent Dante Torelli, a man whose designer suits and Italian shoes are more GQ than FBI. But when her baby niece, Pete, is snatched right in front of her eyes, Zoey doesn’t hesitate to scramble into Dante’s spotless BMW. She needs his help to rescue the baby … if only she can ignore his Lips of Sin.

Oh, baby!

Dante’s original mission is down the drain and he’s dodging bullets with a loopy redhead by his side. He likes quiet. She never shuts up. He likes to follow the rules. She throws the rules out the window. But these opposites do more than attract—they ignite. With a henpecked hit man running wild, cooking-obsessed matrons chasing down contraband spices, and a relentless killer tracking them all, Dante and Zoey will risk everything—for themselves and … For the Love of Pete

For the Love of Pete starts out with a bang, literally. While tearing into the guy who lives upstairs for stealing her parking spot, Zoey is hurdled to the ground when shots are fired. Luckily the guy who lives upstairs? An FBI agent. Unluckily, Zoey and Lips of Sin (as she had named Dante) watch as Zoey’s niece, Pete, is taken from the apartment building.  What follows is a madcap adventure not only for Zoey and Dante, but for sisters-in-law Pratima and Savita; Neil Sr. hit man, an anger management student who took his son on a hit; and Rutgar the requisite super bad guy.

First let me say that I am not usually a fan of suspense novels. Especially suspense novels with your run of the mill FBI agent hero and free spirited heroine. So when I sat down to read Ms. Harper’s latest offering, I went in with reservations. And I came out a fan. It’s fast, it’s funny and it’s anything but conventional. The dialogue is smart and the characters are never two-dimensional. Except perhaps the gun-obsessed Rutgar but we must forgive Ms. Harper for molding her bad guy after every other bad guy. Bad guys aren’t suppose to be deep, right?

The romance is believable and lately I really enjoy novels where the romance develops quickly and under extreme circumstances. The ending, however, seemed a bit rushed but after such a fast-paced adventure, slowing down the ending would have seemed unnecessary. Dante and Zoey read like real people with real problems (you know, aside from being on the run from the mob). Ms. Harper draws out these two characters and overcomes their internal conflicts without much fuss. The external conflict – kidnapping, FBI corruption, psycho hit men and the hilarious Indian sisters who think nothing of stealing cars to save their restaurant – makes the story. Ms. Harper I will be reading whatever you come out with next.  

Things I Liked

~ The characters—Especially the secondary characters. Sisters-in-law Pratima and Savita Gupta made me laugh aloud several times throughout the book. They were vivid, they were real and all of them: the sisters, Neil, Ashley, and Neil Jr. added depth to an already excellent story.

~ The setting. For the Love of Pete is set in Illinois – from Chicago to Cairo. I’m from the Chicago area and now live in central Illinois so it was quite fun to read a book and know exactly what the author was talking about. I had no trouble envisioning the scene because I myself have driven those same roads. Kudos to an author who doesn’t set her big-city novel in New York or Los Angeles.

~ Zoey. She didn’t do anything stupid or something that an average person wouldn’t do in order to protect her niece. This girl escaped the “too stupid to live” stigma.

Things I Didn’t Like

~ The first love scene between Zoey and Dante drew me out of the story completely. The build-up, once they reached the cabin, seemed out of character for Dante. His anger at Zoey was out of left field and irrational for the normally level-headed Dante.

Additional Info

~ Published ~ January 2009

~ Price ~ $6.99

~ Author Website ~ www.juliaharper.com

(this review can also be found at Reading Romance Books)

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