It is a shame but it has to be said, this novella disappointed me. The idea behind the story is interesting enough; geeky computer programmer works late and runs into a man she doesn’t know but assumes is a new colleague, in the copy-room. Next thing you know they’re all but naked and having sex only to be interrupted by the office manager. Pepper, the geeky girl, loses her job and goes to desperate lengths in order to get her job back. This includes lying all but naked in a restaurant where her former boss as well as the man she encountered in the copy-room, are eating sushi off her body. When it becomes clear that the mystery man is in fact a FBI agent named Steve trying to prove her ex-boss is up to his neck in illegal transactions, it takes very little for Pepper to become involved and get the opportunity of making her dream of being a spy come true.
This story-line might have worked very well in a full length novel. In a novella counting less than 90 pages it was just too much. Especially since this book is trying to be more than just a light-hearted and funny spy story. We are also in the middle of an erotic adventure and dealing with the traumatic backgrounds both Pepper and Steve are burdened with. The word count just wasn’t high enough to carry all these plot lines. The result is a story that can’t quite make up its mind as to what it is and doesn’t really satisfy on any level. Just when you’re getting all caught up in the tension of the spying the mood switches to an erotic encounter which in turn might suddenly become a rather dark look at either Pepper or Steve’s past.
For me this was a rather frustrating reading experience because I never got the opportunity to settle into the story. Whenever I started to get comfortable with and involved in what was happening on the page the story would change and I would have to adjust to what could almost be a different book. As a result none of the elements I normally enjoy in a book – the mystery, the love story, the erotica – had the opportunity to come to fruition, leaving me slightly confused and frustrated.
Like I said, in a longer book this set up might have worked very well. In fact, I would probably have enjoyed spending more time with Steve and Pepper because both of them, but especially our geeky girl, showed great promise as characters. This could have been a quirky and enjoyable read if it either had been longer or contained fewer elements. As it was it left me rather bewildered and dissatisfied.