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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sex, Lies and Mistletoe by Tawny Weber

Sex, Lies and Mistletoe by Tawny Weber
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (219 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Undercover DEA agent Caleb Black is home for the holidays—possibly to bust his own father. But maybe Caleb's con-man dad isn't the one running drugs through the small town of Black Oak. Maybe it's the green-eyed goddess who runs the New Age shop and has Caleb under her sultry spell.

Pandora Easton saved the family store with two words: sex sells. And her delectable aphrodisiacs really work, as she's proven with notorious bad boy Caleb again and again and again.

Little does she guess that, in the end, her most potent potion will be the truth….

The first chapter promises what the rest of the book delivers – laughs, embarrassing moments for both heroine and hero, a mystery slowly unfolding and two unlikely people falling in love despite the suspicions that surround them. There’s not a slow moment in the entire book. Sex, Lies and Mistletoe entertains and amuses in every chapter.

The one thing I look forward to when I read a book by Ms. Webber is the laugh hook. She always manages to have either the heroine or hero experience, say or do something totally off the wall funny and this story does not disappoint. I also enjoyed the author’s inclusion and acknowledgement of older folk having sensual fun and the heroine’s blushing response to some of it. It was adorable and many times had me giggling. The author was quite respectful of the fact that love is ageless, enthusiasm for the fun things in life are just as important in our later years as when our hormones are in peak production, all the while making me smile.

Clearly, this is a standalone book because it’s the first in a new trilogy and I liked how the author set it up. Basically, it’s about a dysfunctional family whose patriarch has decided that being a family, whole and hale, is more important than the vagaries of his youth. But his influence on his children is profound and he is going to have to use very sneaky means to reach his goal. The author hints at what it might be, and teases as to who the ‘insider’ is. Certainly, it’s a clever use of intrigue because after reading the book, it sounds like someone is a bit smarter than the old man and things may not go the way he hopes. Because the underlining story arc is about family, I am very interested in reading the rest of the series. Especially if the future books are as good as this one.

I loved the name, “Pandora”. The heroine sure has an uphill battle. Not only to save her family’s store, but to overcome her own insecurities. There was a lot of internal conflict that she had to sort through before she allowed herself to believe that what she felt for the hunky and oh so bad but delicious hero, Caleb, was real. I liked the love/annoyed relationship with her mother and her enthusiasm for food. I also enjoyed watching her tennis match-like attraction to Caleb. He was hard to resist.

Caleb is a well rounded hero. He is the epitome of perfection in his imperfection. His views of family life, his love for his father despite its causing him headaches and his internal dilemmas that he has to overcome to move forward, all made him a wonderful man to read about. The fact that his body goes into overdrive whenever he’s around Pandora provided some very entertaining moments.

And that’s another great thing about this story – the sensual buildup. The attraction was instantaneous but the minefield they had to navigate before they reached the sheets made for some fun reading. When they finally got together, it was pretty explosive and Ms. Webber delivered some satisfying and well written love action. It was a great balance.

Secondary characters play major roles as supportive casts or bad guys. But I’m not going to discuss which is which because the author laid a red herring among them. I liked that. Yes, I figured it out before the ‘great reveal’ but I totally enjoyed every moment of the journey getting to the point when the heroine and hero figured it out too. I’d call it light drama – nothing too heavy but it sure spiced things up nicely. Even though the title has “mistletoe’ in the title, I would not consider this a holiday themed story.

Sex, Lies and Mistletoe is a delightful romp that is sweeter than honey and hotter than the hottest hot chocolate. It’s entertaining, exciting and absolutely piqued my interest for which sibling gets their happily ever after next. If Caleb was a tough nut to crack, I can’t wait to find out what Ms. Webber comes up with to get the next one on board the love train. With any luck it’ll be an equally bumpy ride with as good a payoff at the end as this one was. Ms. Webber writes satisfying romance with kick that also makes you laugh and want to come back for more.