Provocative is a new series by the prolific Lisa Renee Jones, however, given her vast catalog of books is the well may running dry with her latest series White Lies?
It starts off with the much-ballyhooed book playlist. Now one chooses a book based on personal tastes, and if you pick up a volume by a favored author it would not be a stretch to say that you would enjoy the provided playlist of inspiration, right? Wrong. I have never found much use for this addon as it doesn’t add much to the story. Provocative’s playlist includes two songs titled Sugar, one about love and hate, and of course the requisite sex jams. The playlist is telling in that it reveals the entire plot on this one page, but it also warns us it tends to repeat itself (two sugars remember). So no big surprises expected, which is not surprising, but a well told story regardless of romance tropes, troops all. Sadly I was hard pressed to find one. The hero, Nick Rogers, aka Tiger —— yes that’s right, Tiger. Cheesy? Maybe. Childish? Definitely, but one hopes it is meant to involve strength and not the juvenile manner in which Tiger conducts himself. The heroine, Faith Winter, fairs a little better, but she’s so one-dimensional that it’s hard to see where she would be hiding deep dark secrets. Okay so not the strongest characters, but the writing is on point, right? It depends on your appreciation for gems like the hero thinking that the heroine’s blonde hair, belonged on the hero’s stomach (a little strange from a first encounter as we’re still at the meet-cute stage) or the hero lamenting how “trouble doesn’t like me near as much as I liked it,” (flippant and childish remember). He’s a bit of an arrogant prick so being a braggart is not unexpected and surprising not the worst of his traits.
Okay so Provocative is not a neo-classic, but the romance is top-notch, right? Well, Faith and Nick have a healthy carnal liaison or two, this is a modern romance after all, but swoon-worthy affaire de coeur? Not really. Jones tells us that they have an adversarial, sexual, and dark connection, but I was hard pressed to find any evidence of it. Perhaps because there isn’t a lot of meat on these romance bones. With lines where the characters pour out their feelings without saying anything, e.g. “cried until I could cry no more, and then did it again. And again. And again,” and “she got me when no one gets to me.” Nice start, but some elaboration would have been much appreciated.
Why did I pick this book? Well, I have enjoyed many a Lisa Renee Jones story or two (Tall, Dark and Deadly series is a favorite) and the plot of an attorney targeting and then falling for a woman he suspects of something sinister is intriguing, but I didn’t find Provocative that biting, challenging, or interesting. The mystery is not suspenseful, despite the long run up to the cliffhanger-ish ending. Provocative reads like one long, meandering first act that ends with little fanfare or anticipation. Disappointing.