Book: One Taste of You by Amanda Siegrist (2017)

Reviewer: Bethany

Age/Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense

Reading Accoutrements: You might want a cocktail to get you through this one. Try this Crime of Passion cocktail from Tall Tales Mysteries (see the recipe at the end of this review).

Content Notes: Violence, Drugs, Human Trafficking

One Taste of You was the first contemporary romance to catch my eye in a while. The blurb claims that after one super-hot night together, homicide detective Zeke Chance made a stupid mistake and never expected to see Zoe Sullivan again. When a killer goes after Zoe, Zeke takes the opportunity to make up for his error. Cute, right? So, I picked it up.

After her boyfriend, Mark, breaks up with her because she has “no sex appeal,” Zoe dresses in her skimpiest dress and goes out to a bar with some friends to try to regain some of her confidence. She’s feeling confident enough to stay behind when her friends decide to leave and eventually approaches a really sexy guy who’s making some intense eye contact. A few minutes later, they head to his hotel room and have amazing sex.

Zeke has been roped into a vice sting; he’s supposed to go into this bar, pick up a prostitute, and then arrest her. Apparently, the local pimp has expanded into drugs, using his prostitutes as drug dealers. The ultimate goal is to get the woman to turn state’s evidence against her pimp. There’s one problem: he can’t take his eyes off one very attractive woman at the bar. When she approaches, he doesn’t think. Zeke takes her to his hotel room and amazing sex ensues. It isn’t until after the sex that Zeke realizes he knows nothing about this woman. She could be the prostitute he’s supposed to arrest (although I’m pretty sure that prostitutes get paid first in real life). In an effort to recover his balance, Zeke tries to give the woman money, only to be slapped in the face.

Zoe is horrified that the sexy stranger thought she was a prostitute. Her only source of relief is the fact that she’ll never see him again. She throws herself into her work as an administrative assistant to a partner at an accounting firm and basically refuses to wear anything sexier than a suit skirt ever again.

One month later, her boss doesn’t show up to work. Instead, the sexy stranger appears in her boss’s office – and he’s a homicide detective. Zeke, shocked to see the woman he couldn’t forget after his terrible case of mistaken identity, doesn’t make a great second impression. His partner has to handle the entire interview with his victim’s administrative assistant because all Zeke can do is stare at Zoe. He is determined to make up for his mistake, but Zoe is still embarrassed by the events that played out a month ago.

When Zoe’s house is broken into, Zeke realizes that Zoe might be the key to solving the murder…and this could be his chance to regain Zoe’s trust. He takes her into protective custody at his house (also NOT how that works in real life) and convinces her to forgive his mistake (it takes almost 2 whole days…eye roll) while he tries to solve her boss’s murder.

It took me a really long time to get over the beginning of this book for a couple of reasons. The first reason is my inner feminist, who found it really gauling that poor Zoe is called sexually unappealing and then almost arrested for prostitution in the same day. I was so irritated that this woman was told she was unattractive because of her everyday wardrobe, to the extent that she felt compelled to make a change and wear a more revealing outfit to improve her confidence in herself. And when she does feel sexy and confident, she’s accused of doing something illegal. If that’s not a negative commentary on society, I don’t know what is!

Yet the author didn’t take the opportunity to discuss the societal implications of poor Zoe’s experience at all! Instead, it focused on the fact that Zeke felt terrible for misreading the situation…In other words, the book made the whole incident about Zeke! WHAT???

The second reason is that I have a hard time believing that Zoe, the woman who repeatedly says she only slept with her ex-boyfriend once in the several months they were together because she didn’t trust him that much, just jumps back into bed with Zeke after two days of apologies…If a guy continuously made eroneous assumptions about me because I had sex with him at my lowest point of self-esteem, I think I’d make him grovel – a lot – before I’d reenter a physical relationship with him. Granted, I’ve never been the target of a murderer, so I guess I can’t say that for sure.

The third, and final, reason I had trouble getting into this book is because Zeke and Zoe are really bad communicators. Obviously, they didn’t do a lot of talking before (or after) their first sexual encounter. They struggle to communicate clearly with each other when they are reintroduced because emotions are high after the disaster of their first meeting. That trend continues throughout the rest of the book. Zeke says something and Zoe immediately takes it the wrong way and doesn’t ask for clarification. Zoe internalizes her feelings and Zeke reads her emotional shutdown incorrectly and doesn’t ask for clarification. They argue and inflate the problem by communicating only in double-speak and refusing to address their emotions.

These pointless misunderstandings and arguments happen multiple times, so Zoe starts saying that “the one thing they do well is argue.” Umm…no. The one thing they do well is miscommunicate. If they were arguing “well,” they’d be communicating clearly with one another.

I know I’m not a relationship expert, but even I know that miscommunication is NOT a good basis for a relationship. By the end of the book, I wasn’t a fan of Zeke and Zoe as a couple. I felt like it was pretty lazy to create this inexplicable physical attraction between the two characters and then ignore the fact that the two characters don’t have much else in common and don’t really work to understand each other, but end up “happily” together anyway.

I had similar feelings about the rest of the plot, as well. The murder mystery was treated as tangential instead of as the driving force behind Zeke and Zoe meeting and spending time together. Zeke doesn’t do all that much investigating and the only reason you could call the ending a “twist” is because the characters clearly don’t see it coming.

If you haven’t read a romantic suspense novel because you’re worried they focus too much on the mystery and suspense and not enough on the relationship, maybe One Taste of You could be a good introduction to the genre. However, I won’t be reading the second book in this series.

Crime of Passion Cocktail Recipe:

1 oz of dark rum

1 oz of passion fruit juice

2 tablespoons of vanilla ice cream

1/3 oz of raspberry syrup

3 oz of cream soda

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