For the Love of Pete – Julia Harper

Back Cover Copy:
Free-spirited Zoey Adler 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.

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

In the middle of an argument between Zoey Addler and Dante Torelli about a parking space the kidnapping of Zoey’s niece Pete by a hit man, sent by a mafia to kill the federal witness Dante is protecting, propels them into working together to find the kidnapper and the child. They chase after the kidnapper, Neil Janiowski. But things get very complicated when Neil’s car, containing not only Pete but also Neil’s own son Neil Junior, is hijacked by two bickering Indian ladies wanting something back that Neil stole from them. Soon bullets are flying, old ladies are on the run, fights are fought, babies are tossed from one stolen car into another, hit man and traitors run in abundance. Everything leads to an eventful adventure with a happy ending in all aspects.

The main characters of this book, Zoey and Dante, are wonderful! They have such contradicting personalities you just can’t believe there’s a love match there. Zoey is spirited, colorful and artistic but she’s also quick-witted, sympathetic and caring. Dante is the proverbial in-control male. He is serious, coolheaded and orderly but he is also compassionate, helpful and driven. Even their backgrounds and they way they were brought up are totally different. These contradictory characters do complement each other perfectly however. What lacks in one, the other has plenty and vice versa.

But Zoey and Dante weren’t the only characters to catch my attention. The variety of lively secondary characters, that all had their unique contribution to the plot, truly complemented the main couple and stood out on their own. I even felt sympathy for Neil, the kidnapper and the two arguing Indian sister-in-law are just plain hilarious. Together all the secondary characters and their antics formed a perfect background for the love story between Zoey and Dante.

This book is one hilarious laugh-out-loud read. Julia Harper took a bowl, threw in a federal witness, FBI agents -one of which is crooked-, a poet, a mafia hit man, a mafia boss, two quarreling Indian sisters in law who own a restaurant, two adorable babies and finally she added the setting of a car chase with a bullet-ridden BMW convertible in the leading part. You would think with these ingredients the book is bound to be a bit chaotic and disorderly but nothing is further from the truth. Finally she stirred it a bit and out came a delightful contemporary romance.

She delivered a heart warming, fluent and funny story that keeps your attention from the first to the last page and managed to throw some satisfying romance in the mix as well. She made it funny, suspenseful and romantic without taking it over the top. It’s a great contemporary romance with lots of good humor and not the slapstick type of humor I did find in Harper’s first book (HOT), with thoroughly fleshed out main characters who had a nice kind of chemistry going and with a plot that was a pleasurable mix of the right amount of suspense, action, funny situations, romance with emotional depth and character development. She linked several storylines and POVs throughout the book and brought them together in the end perfectly.

I definitely liked this second book whole lot better than Harper’s first contemporary romance. For me that one was a trial run and it couldn’t compete with the historicals she writes under the penname Elizabeth Hoyt, but with this one she nailed it. What I really like about Harper/Hoyt’s writing is her ability to think outside of the expected and come up with characters that are as surprising as they are strong. They quirks they have, make them human and easy to relate to which enriched my reading pleasure.

This book was funny, fast-paced, action-packed and touching. In short, everything I expect in a contemporary romance. After HOT, which I labeled an average read, Harper has amazed me with this second book, giving me a quality contemporary read that truly didn’t disappoint. I unquestionably enjoyed myself reading this book. If you want uncomplicated, unadulterated fun, you can’t go wrong with FOR THE LOVE OF PETE!


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