Watch Me

Lisa Renee Jones
September 2012, Series Romance (California)
Harlequin Blaze, $5.25, 224 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373797141
Part of a series

Grade: D+
Sensuality: Hot

Lisa Renee Jones’ Watch Me is part of a new series centered around a fictional reality TV dance show called America’s Stepping Up. Since I can admit to a fondness for So You Think You Can Dance, I thought the book might be fun. Unfortunately, the title I would give this book is So You Think Your Heroine’s Mood Swings Might Give You Whiplash.

Meagan Tippan is the producer of America’s Stepping Up, a reality dance show that’s just getting off the ground. Meagan is a former dancer herself, but her career-ending injury kept her away from that world until now. Meagan’s found a way to combine her love of dance with her career in television. But the show has been plagued with problems, and the staff and contestants are starting to whisper that it’s cursed.

Matters escalate when something triggers the sprinkler system in the home where they are about to begin filming. The house - and all the expensive camera equipment inside - are soaked. As Meagan struggles to flip a breaker switch and solve the problem, Sam Kellar, head of studio security, steps in to flip the switch and save the day. Sam is a former special forces soldier used to giving orders and getting his way. He and Meagan share some serious attraction, but she has no interest in alpha males, so she gives him her best “ice princess” routine every time they get into it.

But in order to save the show, the studio bosses insist that Sam provide round the clock security. That means he’ll be getting up close and personal with Meagan, and both of them know their undeniable sexual attraction could be a big problem. And there are other problems as well, including a possible saboteur among the staff. As Sam helps Meagan locate a new house for her cast, they share kisses...and then more. But is this relationship a good idea?

Well, if they had asked me, I would have said no. Mostly because Meagan just needs to grow up and quit putting labels on people. As a woman, I hate to say it - but she’s a bit of a tease. She kisses Sam...then isn’t sure it’s a good idea, because Sam is an alpha male. Shudder. Then she sleeps with Sam...and isn’t sure it’s a good idea, because Sam is an alpha male. She blows hot and cold for the duration of the book, which made me wonder why Sam put up with her. I kept wondering why she thought of Sam as a “type” instead of a person. This is particularly puzzling because Sam never seems all that high-handed; he just seems nice. He really deserved better than an ice princess who couldn’t make up her mind.

And while I was interested in the reality TV idea, that really fell flat as well. The problem is really that the secondary characters don’t have anything to them; the whole lot of them are pure cardboard. And they hardly discuss the dance portions of the show - they mostly focus on scandals and love triangles. In a similar vein, the villains of the book are telegraphed far in advance...possibly to save the reader the trouble of wondering whether they are up to no good. Maybe this works for readers who don’t want any uncertainty in their lives, but I find this type of villain boring in the extreme.

I was really hoping I’d find a fun, quick series read with an interesting theme. While I give the author points for a good idea, the finished product is a real flop. I won’t be sticking around for the rest of America’s Stepping Up.

-- Blythe Barnhill

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