Nikki Reviews Like Jazz by Heather Blackmore

From the blurb: Cassidy “Cazz” Warner, a smart, sporty, reticent newcomer to the senior class at Claiborne High, unwittingly attracts the attention of its most popular girl: Sarah Perkins, a bright, athletic, charismatic beauty. Just as the two begin to understand how extraordinary their friendship is, another cross-country move wrests Cazz away. 

Ten years later, Cazz unexpectedly runs into Sarah during a fraud investigation at Sarah’s charitable foundation. The women are inexorably drawn to each other, but Cazz’s investigation into the foundation’s finances limits her ability to be entirely honest with Sarah. 

This book opens with an introduction of Cazz as an investigator getting called in by LAPD to determine whether embezzlement is occurring at a high-profile charitable foundation in the area. But quickly thereafter we travel back in time, to where Cazz is starting her first day at a new school (a theme familiar to anyone raised in a military family) where she meets the enigmatic Sarah Perkins. They begin an oft-times competitive relationship that develops into something more. The book is told from Cazz’s point-of-view, which can be problematic, not having access to other characters’ emotional state and experiences. It works well here, since we are witnessing a lot of Cazz’s internal struggle, whereas Sarah tends to be much more forthright in her interactions.

I really enjoyed the first half of this book, as there was a good balance between angst and a realistic development of their relationship. Nothing felt very rushed and the emotional connection pulled me in right away. However, the second half of the book takes a different direction. Cazz in present-day is trying to investigate the embezzlement happening in Sarah’s charitable foundation (I never did figure out what the charity actually raised money for, aside from ‘helping people’). A main problem I had was how quickly I figured out who was embezzling (within seconds of Cazz entering the building), so the investigation was very secondary. Really, the most interesting parts of the book all dealt with the relationship between Cazz and Sarah, and I sincerely questioned Cazz’s ability as an investigator.

I understand the need to have a mechanism for the two characters to come together after a long separation, but adding intrigue to the plot really didn’t add anything to the story for me. If anything, I believe it detracted from what was working so well with the flow in the first half. I feel as though it could have benefited from taking the criminal component completely out and keeping it as straight romance. The author excelled at that aspect, but the dependence on the investigation took away what could have been a better-developed reawakening of their feelings. I normally enjoy romantic intrigue quite a bit, but I found myself frustrated (or bored) with most things Cazz did in the investigation.

For the romance alone, it was a good first novel by Heather Blackmore, and I did like it. If it was pure romance I would have probably loved it. I will definitely pick up more by her in the future to see how the author progresses, because I saw a lot of potential.

You can purchase or download a sample of Like Jazz by clicking here.

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