Molly's Reviews

Undercover LoveUndercover Love
by Lucy Grijalva
Lion Hearted Publishing Inc 2000

Highly Recommended 5 stars

Julia Newman is nonplussed to find herself fascinated by the ruffian who moves into the apartment next door. Rick "Perry," appears to be totally ignominious. He pronounces himself a handyman, but Julia notices he keeps the oddest hours. His unkempt hair, puzzling way of not answering personal questions and a group of as disreputable friends all signal trouble as far as Julia can tell. Rick would be easy to ignore if he weren't so pleasant, appealing, fun, and so downright sensual.

Rick is not the type of man Julia ever wanted to meet. Third-grade schoolteacher Julia is a woman who was mothered by an indiscreet single parent in a city slum. Now that Julia has shaken off the stigma of her upbringing and has put one notable youthful blunder behind her, she wants no part of that former life. Julia's new life built on respectability. She is a law-abiding and right-living young woman who is aware that her own lack of judgment when it comes to men must be kept in check does not want to follow in her mother's footsteps. This is a woman who grew up watching her mother get bewitched and then disposed of by a succession of losers. Julia while a teenager, came too close to following her mother's pattern. That was then, and Julia has determined never again. She knows that if she ever chooses to get wrapped up in another fellow, he will without doubt be a decent man who will have a legitimate source of income and a rock solid sense of honor.

Rick Peralta has problems of his own to be troubled about. What Julia doesn't know about her new neighbor is that he's a vice cop working undercover. Rick's excuse to hang around the big time drug dealer's apartments using his "handyman" routine so he dig up some evidence on the guy and get him arrested is simple. His plan is to put the drug dealer at ease so he can arrange a very large drug buy that will result in a very long prison sentence for the ruffian. Of course Rick must look and act the part of a ruffian himself. It's a not a bad plan as plans go, and everything would be working nice and smooth if Rick weren't so taken by his attractive neighbor. Rick hasn't had much success at a long-term relationship in the past, and even though he can't disclose much about himself for fear of blowing his cover, he just can't help being drawn to the luscious, entertaining, sexy Julia

Undercover Love is a nice, well rounded little romance that is sure to hold the reader's interest from the opening lines right on through to the last chapter. Writer Grijalva has sprinkled a group of fully-developed, likeable characters who are quite advanced. In Undercover Love first-time author Grijalva maintains the focus shift on her characters' developing relationship. That relationship is exactly what readers who enjoy romance novels most want to read about. Undercover Love pr0vides just enough subplot about Rick's undercover work and Julia's preoccupation with one of her students, however it's just enough to add a little spice to the narrative, and in no way takes from the romance itself.

As in Diana Garcia's Stardust, the growing romance between Rick and Julia in Undercover Love is pleasant to watch unfolding. Their relationship evolves progressively and naturally. Grijalva does a credible job in allowing the reader to feel the sexual tension that drawing the pair together, despite their understandable disinclination for such. The emotional interchange between the duo adds to the story, as Julia slowly learns to depend upon Rick and trust her own judgment as she reveals the damage of her torturous childhood.

At last uncertainty is conquered, problems are resolved, and the love neither was seeking is theirs.

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2005 by Molly Martin