WHEN YOU MIX ONE PART BUSINESS
Autumn Adams never planned to follow in her mother’s footsteps as Chicago’s answer to Martha Stewart–she can’t cook, doesn’t clean, and would rather play soccer than discuss the joys of white bathtub grout. Then some lunatic starts sending her threats in the mail and Audie finds herself under the protection of simmering, sexy Detective Stacey Quinn, a man determined to examine her every nook, cranny, and ex-boyfriend in his effort to find the stalker. A disarming combination of macho cop and sweet charmer, Quinn is hard to resist. But with Audie’s bad luck at finding and holding on to Mr. Right, she think it’s best to keep her distance…
WITH ALL PARTS PLEASURE
Quinn soon discovers that the real Audie is an alluring blend of fantasy babe and tender-hearted female all wrapped up in what he can only hope is leopard-print underwear. She’s not what he’s always pictured for himself, but could she be everything he’ll ever need?
THINGS CAN GET DOWNRIGHT DELICIOUS
Digging through Audie’s many layers could turn out to be the hottest, craziest, sexiest bit of detective work Quinn has ever attempted…if it doesn’t kill him first.
The ingredients for Susan Donovan’s KNOCK ME OFF MY FEET are a hunky, Irish police detective and threats by mail to a Martha Stewart-esk columnist who’d much rather spend her time on the soccer field. Furthermore, there is mention of kilts and what is worn beneath them and bagpipes and their possibilities, there’s a bunch of ex-boyfriends who are suspects, an associate with a questionable taste in clothing, lots of bed talk by the otherwise quiet detective, quite some touching and feeling and a smoking hot scene on a porch.
Stacey Quinn is a Chicago PD detective. He is Quinn to his friends and family and if you want to stay on his good side, you’d better not call him Stacey. He is straightforward and direct but not very talkative, however, there are some nice exceptions to the latter, which I will address later in this review. Subtlety is lost on him and he oozes masculinity. He is a confident and sweet man who’s a bit rough around the edges but has a heart of gold.
After her mother’s death, Autumn (Audie) Adams took over her “Homey Helen” column. It is something she does out of guilt towards her mother, although why she felt guilty is beyond me after reading how Audie’s family life was while she grew up. Audie is clumsy, disorganized, outspoken and impulsive. She would rather play women soccer than give homemaker tips. She is lonely and sometimes lashes out because of insecurities that come from her messed up childhood but considering her upbringing she turned out pretty well and she too, has a heart of gold.
Audie and Quinn are really sweet together in the way that, despite their immediate attraction, they both take their time to gradually open up to each other. They are opposites in many, many ways, which causes a lot of awkward situations and fun dialogues between them to go along with the fiery and instant chemistry. He is neat, she’s messy. He grew up in a warm and close family, she grew up in a dysfunctional one. He is very much in control of everything, she is clumsy. He is the silent type, she is talkative. But I do need to rectify that last one a bit because Quinn can be talkative on a few subjects. One is his family, he can talk a lot about his family when he’s gets into his stride and he is also oh so very talkative in bed and I loved that. My dear old heart goes into overdrive when a hero talks the talk during love scenes and Quinn definitely talks the talk and he does it quite well. My favorite talkative hero used to be Butch (J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood) but Quinn has definitely dethroned him.
There are enough secondary characters to provide a nice number of suspects for the suspense thread of the book, but still it is Quinn and Stacey who take center stage in this wonderful contemporary story. Supporting characters like Quinn’s partner, Quinn’s family and Stacey’s friend Griffin are essential for the humor that runs through the book. I especially liked the scene with brotherly talk at the pub with Quinn and his brothers and the banter between Quinn and his partner. Actually, in all the dialogues, no matter in which situation and no matter between which characters, the humor shone through. Sometimes it was subtle and in the background, other times it was laugh-out-loud funny.
Susan Donovan is great with humor and wit. Her writing is easy to grasp and fluent. She fleshes out her characters in a thorough way, making it able to really get to know them and go through all the motions with them. She provides her hero and heroine with extensive backgrounds and although I had some trouble with the pace of the book in the beginning, when it seemed like the book was crawling forth, it is that slow pace that makes it possible for the romance to develop gradually in a realistic way and for the characters to really grow on you as the reader.
Having read some extremely fast-paced paranormal and suspense books right before reading this book, I think I just had to make a little adjustment in order to appreciate the slower pace in the beginning of this book. And rest assured that Susan Donovan does make up for the slow starting pace because what starts as a mellow, slow paced and sweet romance novel changes completely and for the better when Donovan takes it up a notch both with the pace and with the romance. When Quinn and Audie decide to act on their mutual attraction and budding feelings, it really changes the tone and pace of the book. It turns sizzling hot when Quinn starts to get all touchy feely and talkative and when Audie lets her inhibitions and insecurities go. It was an unexpected change that gave the book an extra dimension and which made it shoot a few places up my list.
Susan Donovan sure knows how to write sensual build-up and how to heat things up in the bedroom to such a peak that if I wore glasses, they would’ve steamed up real good. She proves that explicitness doesn’t equal hotness because one of the hottest scenes in the book is one where Quinn and Audie aren’t even having sex, though they are talking about it.
In the beginning of the book Donovan tricked me into this comfortable, non-too impressive lull, just to end it with very hot romance and some surprising twists in the suspense plot. She did have me sweating for a bit with the suspense plot because I thought there was going to be an unforgivable plot inconsistency but she saved it just in time to give me the great ending she had been working up to.
KNOCK ME OFF MY FEET is a contemporary romance just the way I like them. Smooth and fluent and filled with fun, chemistry, the right amount of resistance to the attraction and a suspense plot that stays in the background just enough not to make it a romantic suspense. I will definitely be reading more of Susan Donovan’s work soon.
Oh, and let’s not forget the best part about her life –Stacey Quinn! The intensely sexy cop who kissed her until her spine fused, then disappeared with some lame excuse, then sent her a gift so inexplicably sweet and personal that it made her cry.
He wanted what his parents had and he decided early on that he’d settle for nothing less. He wanted the kind of love that was beautiful and resilient and funny. He wanted passionate love. He wanted love that would challenge him, complete him, make him a better man.
Audie watched him do the one-handed macho T-shirt removal thing and toss it to the chair. And there he stood in front of her, wearing nothing but the kilt and a muscular chest, trim abdomen and strong arms. Audie knew she might very well be drooling, but she didn’t care. His body was exquisite–powerful, sprung tight, ready for whatever might be required. (…) He was the most exquisite male specimen she’d ever seen, and beneath the hard-ass cop routine, he was the kindest man she’d ever known.