Heiress For Hire

The Pregnancy Test

Smart Mouth

You Don’t Know Jack
by Erin McCarthy
(Brava, $14.00, R) ISBN 0-7582-1409-X
This book has Good Parts and not-so-good parts. The Good Parts are definitely worth reading.

Jamie Peters is a social worker who loves helping people improve their lives, especially ex-cons re-entering society after prison. Positive that she’ll never marry (because any man she loves will leave, just like her daddy did) even the guys she dates are “fixer-uppers.”

One of Jamie’s successfully rehabilitated clients is now a cross-dressing psychic (Jamie was “ecstatic” to discover his gift for seeing the future) who predicts Jamie’s going to meet a man who will touch her soul. But Jamie doesn’t want to meet some man who will break her heart, she wants to meet a man who’ll have hot, no-strings sex with her.

When Jamie runs into (literally) an attractive man who meets the psychic’s description, she does not know that Jack is the brother of one of her roommates. Or that he’s a retired millionaire who made a fortune on Wall Street before turning twenty-nine. Or that he’s “investigating” the possibility that someone is using agency funds to conduct insider trading where Jamie works. She does think he’s extremely attractive, though, and gets up the courage to ask him to dinner.

Jack is pretty sure Jamie’s not involved in any illegal activity, which he’s relieved about because he thinks she’s really hot. Even better, she doesn’t know he’s rich – “it had been a long time since Jack could trust that any woman was interested in him and not his money.” Jamie, he’s delighted to realize, will have the chance to get to know ‘the real him.’ He kinda ignores the fact that ‘the real him’ is apparently a big fat liar.

Sadly for our hero, Jamie isn’t willing to ignore it, so it kinda becomes a problem.

It isn’t the only problem these lovebirds will have, and none of the problems are terribly convincing, but it’s not quite as much of an issue as you might think because they do manage to have lots of steamy sex.

In fact, my impression is that most of what goes on when Jack and Jamie are clothed, especially when there are other people involved, is in the book because the characters have to do something besides have sex. So it seems a bit whiney to complain that the rest of the story is unfocused and not terribly compelling. Jamie’s got a little list of additional reasons she and Jack can’t get together, but they’re all of the romantic-cliché variety so it was difficult to be convinced of anything. It wasn’t a plot so much as a series of events.

Events in between demonstrations of Jamie and Jack’s sizzling chemistry. When their focus is on each other, the story achieves an entirely different level of intensity, and I mean that in a Good way. And a great deal of that intensity is thanks to Jack, who is an attentive, enthusiastic and tenacious lover, because Jack realizes he wants strings, lots and lots of strings, and the only way Jamie will let him get close is in bed. So they have quite a lot of quite explicit – and sometimes even romantic – sex. My only complaint is that Jack occasionally gets a little clinical for my taste. At one point, I found myself musing that I knew more about the appearance of Jamie’s vulva than I did her face.

There’s an assortment of the secondary characters that have become romance staples: the sex-in-the-city gaggle of gal pals, the flamboyant gay guy, the irrepressible senior citizen. Jamie and Jack have to do something besides have sex. I guess.

Anyway, I hesitate to recommend a book just for the Good Parts, especially with the renewed debate over romance v. porn lately, but some books – even some books from this publisher – don’t have enough Good Parts, so readers take them where they can find them. You’ll certainly find them here.

-- Judi McKee

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