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Friday, July 20, 2012

When You’re With Me by Wendi Zwaduk

When You’re With Me by Wendi Zwaduk
Publisher: Total-E-Bound Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (154 Pages)
Other: M/F, light BDSM, spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Foxglove

A topless dancer plus a cynical cop doesn’t equal a lifetime love...or does it?

There’s more to Jude Nelson than just a sequined thong. She has big dreams of becoming an artist. There’s one tiny wrinkle in her plan-she’ll never forget the bloody image of her friend’s battered body in the dumpster.

Who can a nude dancer turn to for help? Certainly not a hardened undercover cop...

Detective Drew Alwyn is on the case to find out who murdered his good friend and fellow officer. But the moment he sees Jude, he can’t look away. He has to decide which is more important-his dedication to his job or the girl who holds his bruised and battered heart.

Will these two opposites come together to solve the case or will their desire consume them?

It's business as usual at the Silver Steel Gentlemen’s Club, a fact the Carrington Falls police department wants to change. After finding the bodies of the last undercover officer and his lover in a trash compactor behind the club, the department is stepping up its program to get the goods on Salazar “Tiny” Balthazar and finally put him out of business. As the new bouncer at the club, Drew “Ramon” Alwyn is determined to stop Tiny, and there are several others in place as well. When Drew spots Jude “Judy Blue Eyes” Nelson, it's lust at first sight, but he can’t let his attraction to the beautiful and sexy stripper sidetrack his mission. However, things aren’t all they appear to be, and not all the cops here are the good guys. When Ramon discovers the secrets Jude hides, he falls even harder, but knows he can’t protect her and do his job as well. Can a stripper and a jaded undercover cop find common ground? Will Drew lose the woman he has come to love when he tells her the truth? Can these two manage to, finally, bring the bad guys down and still find a way to a happy ever after?

Wendi Zwaduk returns us to the dark, twisted noir setting from Over My Head, with many of the same characters and places we have visited before. There's the same dark, gritty and dangerous feeling to this one, and I enjoyed the return, after the nasty shock of the beginning. That is just one of many secrets, twists and mysteries present in this, and the danger and action kept me reading, needing to know what was next. Every time I thought I knew what was next, Ms. Zwaduk sent me in another direction completely. I really like that in a story, not being able to predict every move. The characters, both new and old, are expertly detailed, and very believable.

Jude Nelson is beautiful, sensuous and very good at what she does. One of the dancers at the Silver Steel, she is not what she appears to be: in fact she is an art student, just working to finish her degree. Despite her job, there's an innocence about Jude, a sweet and shy demeanor away from the club. She's determined to get out of the business just as soon as she finishes her classes. I like Jude, with her strength of character and her determination. She is loyal, and has an inner strength to see things through.

Officer Drew Alwyn, or Ramon, is a strong and determined character. He is set on bringing down the drug ring and the head of it, to make sure his friend did not die in vain. When he sees Jude, he is drawn to her, knowing only that she is a dancer at the club, but quickly seeing past the front she has built to keep men at a distance. I liked Drew’s sense of duty, and his inner fight to find a way to get the ‘bad guys’ but also to get the girl. I liked watching as he slowly let little pieces of the real man shine through to Jude.

Like the first book, there's a dark and dangerous thread running through this story. Once I started reading, I saw that everyone had a secret side, and some were very much darker that I originally thought. The secondary characters were as well defined as Jude and Drew, and some of the motivations behind their actions were what you would expect, but not from who I thought it would be. Jude and Drew have a hard road, but they do find their way to be together, and at least have a happy for now. There are more twists and secret, but you need to read this for yourself to learn the whole story.

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