What The Body Needs by Laura Oliva
She's survived in her father's construction company. She's survived in the boxing ring. And she survived the brutal attack that left her permanently scarred.
For the last five years, she's tried to convince everyone -including herself- she's no victim. But with the apparent return of her unknown assailant, the life she's rebuilt crumbles overnight.
Ex-cop Marcus Cutter has his own scars, they just don't show. Following the violent death of his younger sister, he fled his old life in disgrace. After almost six years, "rock-bottom" feels a lot like home.
As Jak's new bodyguard, Marcus is forced to return to the city -and the memories- he's tried to forget. All he wants is to do his job, but Jak isn't what he expects. When he's with her, he finally feels something besides pain.
When the danger escalates, Jak decides it's time to take matters into her own hands. She's determined to find who's after her, no matter the cost. Marcus knows he has to protect the woman who's made his life mean something again. But how do you protect someone who's convinced they have nothing left to lose?
Admittedly this isn’t a genre that I normally read, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I did have my issues with the main character, Jak, mostly I wanted to slap her, shake her, and ask her what the hell she was thinking, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It takes a lot for me to want to engage with a character when I don’t agree with their choices and in this book I seriously wanted to engage with her. I did however love Marcus, he is a great leading man.
The setting is crystal clear, you get a sense you are standing on these streets, in these neighborhoods. It is a tactile experience, I could almost touch and smell the city around me as I was reading. Ms. Oliva has crafted the location with complete authenticity and as a reader that level of detail is appreciated.
The characters all strike me as attempts at throwbacks to the old noir detective/private investigator films of the 1940’s. Where bad guys had street names, like Five Finger Freddy, that boarder on almost comical, men smoked cigarettes without care, and women could down a glass of whiskey just as quickly as their male counterparts and spoke in husky-seductive tones. Speaking of the street names, I did find myself thinking that a lot of people’s names reminded me of the Dick Tracy comic books and it did give me a little giggle or two. Given the tone of the story though, the names of certain characters didn’t pull me out of the tale too much to where I couldn’t enjoy it. It is that throwback feel and characters that build this story.
The genre is Noir Romance. Go into it with this in mind. Just because it has that throwback feel, don’t expect to find any character in a long trench coat and a wide brimmed hat. This isn’t like film-noir of the golden age like High Sierra or The Maltese Falcon or the Frank Miller noir of today’s cinema like Sin City. This is set in the modern age with realistic characters. Think more like the noir genre of the 1980-90’s films. Things like Basic Instinct, neo-noir like Heat, and L.A. Confidential (comparing books to film isn’t fair, I know, but it’s the best way to explain it). The setting is vivid, the scenery is realistic, it's the characters that are dark in this story. They all have issues that they wear like tattered badges of courage. Never wanting anyone to dig too deep and expose their vulnerability, but in the end, it is exposed and gives you a great insight into why these flawed characters act the way they do.
Of course I have to end this on the steamy parts… They are steamy, well written and when it happens they are executed brilliantly. Have I mentioned they are steamy? The language isn’t too graphic for those of you who don’t like the use of explicit language in sex scenes, but it is definitely enough to fog up your glasses as you read.
4 out of 5 Stars
Heat Rating: HOT
(mild, medium, hot, spicy, scorching)
Links for What The Body Needs: Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads
About The Author: Laura's Bio
When not sweating blood over the keyboard, Laura Oliva is a full-time mom, wife, amateur chef, gardener, and (non)recovering clotheshorse. Laura lives in Northern California with her young son and her remarkably patient husband.
SPE was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review