SWEET TALK – Julie Garwood
Dutton (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0-525-95286-2
August 2012
Contemporary Romance

Washington, DC – Present Day

Twelve years ago, four small girls were in an experimental program to save their lives.  Olivia MacKenzie was the ringleader of the group nicknamed the Pipsqueaks, or Pips for short.  There's also Samantha Pearson, Jane Weston and Collins Davenport.  Every Monday was "poison day" when they were given a wonder drug cocktail.  The next day they coped with blisters all over their bodies, and the rest of the week Olivia led them in pranks that generally erased their boredom and fear of death.  They have all survived and faced their futures knowing their bodies were forever changed by their disease no drug had been able to conquer.

Olivia has gone to a fancy restaurant to interview for a job with Eric Jorguson, the CEO of one of the biggest investment firms in the country.  With talks of cutbacks where she works now, looking ahead seems prudent, and Olivia has interviewed with three other Fortune 500 companies.  It seems her father, Robert MacKenzie, is quite an asset according to Mr. Jorguson, but when he tears her blouse and accuses her of being an FBI agent, the interview falls apart.  When Mr. Jorguson's bodyguard attacks her, it is only luck that someone saves her, someone really with the FBI.  But Jorguson doesn't know what hit him, as Olivia is with the Internal Revenue Service, and sometimes that trumps the FBI.

Grayson Kincaid and the FBI were in the middle of a sting of Eric Jorguson when Olivia's fight with him interrupts everything and spoils their plans.  He is attracted to her feistiness, and tries to keep his distance from her until someone in a SUV tries to gun her down.  It all seems to be connected with Eric Jorguson, or could it be her father, Robert MacKenzie?  When Grayson finds out Olivia is investigating her father's Ponzi scheme it adds her father's attorney as a suspect involved in shutting her up.  Grayson wants Olivia to have constant protection, and comes to realize being in a relationship with her and trying to keep their relationship separate from his investigation will prove to be impossible.

Olivia is determined to stop her father from any more of his financial schemes.  He has gotten money from people all his life, and when his investment company goes under he always leaves richer than before, and then on to another project.  Now he needs Olivia's Aunt Emma to put all her money in his new business.  If his investors see she trusts him, he is assured even more money into his company.  A distant relationship with her mother and sister assures Olivia that no one but her Aunt Emma has ever cared much for her. Her charismatic father is the most important person in their family.  But dealing with someone who seems determined to kill her causes Olivia and Grayson to connect and accept their white hot attraction to each other.

Julie Garwood has presented Olivia and Grayson, who are alternately funny, strong, struggling to cope with the hand that life has given them, and learning to deal with their attraction to each other.  Up to now the only people Olivia trusted were her three friends and her Aunt Emma, the only person who ever visited her in the hospital.  Told from Olivia's and Grayson's points of view, Grayson especially must deal with his attraction to someone involved in a case he is working on, and also cope with his nephew since his mother died, and Grayson's brother has decided roaming the world is going to solve his problems.  Olivia still copes with the aftermath of her disease, she and the other Pips have each come to terms with the fact that their lives might not be as long as they'd like, and if their disease returns they don't want to put any other loved ones through the pain and anguish of seeing them sick as their parents did.  It would take a lot of hope for Olivia to believe she could have a future with Grayson.

Secondary characters are integral parts of the story.  One Pip, Jane, seems to still be struggling with her disease and is in the hospital often, needing blood transfusions from Olivia to keep up her energy.  Jane's brother Logan is a wild card; a former alcoholic and drug abuser, he says he's been through rehab and is working now, trying to establish a relationship with her after all the trouble he's caused.  Eric Jorguson and his many subordinates are anticipating killing Olivia and getting her off their backs.  And good old dad, Robert MacKenzie, is Olivia's ultimate quest—to put him in prison for one of the largest Ponzi schemes in the country.  There are other characters just as important that occupy the pages of this great story, and each of them is integrated perfectly and adds to the specialness of this book.

SWEET TALK has many interesting, poignant, and heroic people trying to either fight crime, fight for life, or fight to live life to the fullest.  You will enjoy meeting Grayson and Olivia and all the people that surround them who leave you with a smile on your face and hope in your heart.  Enjoy a book that will lift your spirit and leave you feeling better than before with SWEET TALK this month.

Carolyn Crisher