L.A. Caveman by Christina Crooks. $2.99 from Smashwords or Amazon. From the cover: When corporate reorganization strikes, spirited journalist Stanna keeps her job but discovers her struggle has only begun. The workplace becomes a sizzling environment as she battles her macho, hard-bodied new boss for control of the Men’s Weekly column. She’s determined to reform him. He’s determined to train her. Neither wants to acknowledge the electrifying attraction that pulls at them both. Approx. 56K words. This past week, I read L.A. Caveman from author Christina Crooks. Ms. Crooks has four romance novels to her credit, of which, L.A. Caveman is the third, and the fourth is due out soon. L.A. Caveman could’ve been my kind of book, as it spins a tale of romance and suspense in the modern corporate world, wherein the hero and heroine are continuously at odds over business decisions for the magazine that he owns and she writes a column for. Throw in a sleazy, conniving former editor who intends payback for having been relieved of duty, and you have all the ingredients for a saucy, sexy story that should tickle the brain and tug at the heartstrings. Unfortunately, for me, it didn’t turn out that way. The novel begins by pitting two strong-willed characters against each other in an emotionally charged situation. Jake Tremere has recently traded his nest egg for the floundering Men’s Weekly magazine, believing that he can breathe life into it by steering it in a more macho direction. One of his first acts toward that end is to fire Stanna Whitland, a spunky writer who presents the feminine point of view in her regular weekly column. When Jake discovers that he can’t fire Stanna, because she has a three-year contract, the sparks begin to fly. Within the first few pages, I was captivated by the author’s elegant writing style, which makes use of crisp, natural language, rich vocabulary, and varied constructs. Between the writing and the strong premise, I expected to really be taken in by this romantic tale, however, the book’s path from there on was not the one I would have chosen. While the plot had the potential for a number of interesting interactions among the major characters, I felt the best scenes were almost always “off-screen”, referred to in passing or summarized after-the-fact, while all the scenes presented to the reader were the ones where Jake and Stanna were either at each other’s throats or rolling around in the hay; I never saw the positive interactions and bond-building scenes that would make me believe these two people had any real feelings for each other, other than animosity and lust. Even at the climax of the story, I felt as though I had missed something–where was the resolution to the enormous issue which had separated the two? They never spoke one word to each other about what had come between them before skipping to the HEA. I would recommend L.A. Caveman to any reader who appreciates a rich writing style and has a taste for pure romance and steamy sex scenes. If you can look past the egregiously inappropriate nature of this owner-employee relationship, you will lose yourself in the crazy ups and downs of their love affair. If, like me, you prefer your romance couched in action, adventure, and mystery, this book will leave you wanting.
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