Russ Evans is a detective with the Cleveland Police Department, investigating the case of Trevor Dean, a con-artist who is bilking rich women out of their money. He and his partner are staking out a coffee shop where they have reason to believe Dean is meeting another mark. The pretty blond inside has peaked Russ's interest in more ways than one, but she could just as easily be working with Dean as his next victim. In hopes of obtaining more information, Russ goes into the shop, only to be shocked that this lady he has never seen before, already knows his name.
Laurel Wilkins is deaf and has spent the last six years avoiding the dating scene because of it. She finally decided to take steps to end her celibacy by going to the coffee shop to meet Russ Evans, a guy she had been communicating with online. Unfortunately, Russ seems utterly confused by her greeting. He finally tells Laurel that he is indeed Russ Evans and he does work for the PD, but he is not the man she has been emailing with. That guy would be trying to steal her money. After Laurel realizes that Russ is telling her the truth, and that she's been had, she is determined to help catch the culprit, but that won't do anything to fix her love life. So, Laurel propositions Russ for a little casual sex, while they investigate the case. Russ has never been good at relationships and now that he's raising his kid brother after their parents were killed in an accident, he just doesn't have time for one. Laurel is so hot, Russ can't seem to stop thinking about her and it isn't long before he takes her up on her offer, but what was supposed to be a one-night stand ends up turning into a whole lot more than he bargained for.
Mouth to Mouth was a pretty good book, but wasn't as amazing as I was expecting it to be based on other readers' glowing reviews. Normally, I'm not overly influenced by reviews, because I have found books that others hated which I loved and vice versa. This time, I must have been influenced more than usual though, because I think I went into reading this one with somewhat high expectations, only to finish it feeling a little disappointed and oddly unsatisfied. Maybe if I hadn't been expecting so much from it, I would have felt differently, but I can certainly see why others did enjoy the book. It has two likeable main characters, lots of steamy love scenes, and other than the teen angst and rebellion of Russ's brother, Sean, which causes some friction between them, it is what I would characterize as an easy, fluff read. And therein may lie the problem. All of Erin McCarthy's stories that I've read so far have been pretty light, and I generally have a preference for ones that contain deeper, more meaningful relationship development.
The hero and heroine, Russ and Laurel, are both likeable characters, but I never felt like I truly understood what made either of them tick. Russ is a tough-guy cop, who lost his parents in an accident a year earlier and is struggling to raise his teenage brother who is acting out rebelliously because of the tragedy. I liked that Russ was caring and committed enough to take on the responsibility for his brother, even though Sean was being a pain in the butt. I also liked Russ's protective nature toward Laurel, but just like her, I thought that his protectiveness could be borderline overbearing at times and often came out like he was speaking to a child. Laurel is a wealthy deaf woman who has become the target of a con-man who is out to bilk rich ladies out of their money. She seems to be caught between the deaf and hearing worlds, and this is why I think she never stood out to me like I expected she would. Even though Laurel is deaf, she functions with virtually no problems at all in the hearing world, which on the one hand, showed that she was very capable and able to live a pretty normal life in spite of her disability, but on the other hand, I thought it took away some of the uniqueness of her character. Laurel was constantly trying to assert her independence with Russ, saying that she was never really allowed to do what she wanted to because of her disability, but to me it seemed like it was more herself that was holding her back than circumstances. Just like Russ and her mother, I too felt like she was a bit naïve and too trusting at times. Overall, Laurel was never a very well-defined character for me. In fact, I felt that both Russ and Laurel's backstories and personalities were ripe with depth that was waiting to be plumbed but sadly never was, which is why I ended up liking but not loving them.
The"suspense" part of the plot was an interesting set-up, but very light and a couple of times I thought that it stretched the bounds of credibility just a bit. At least the revelation of the villain's secret identity was something that I didn't see coming. The surprise side romance of Russ and Laurel's best friends, Jerry and Cat, was rather amusing since they're complete opposites. There were a couple of family moments between Russ and Sean that I thought were pretty realistically rendered. I liked that at the heart of it all Sean seemed like a good kid who'd been dealt a bad hand, but in my opinion, he was a little too worldly for a thirteen year old. Laurel's overweight cat, Ferris, who is initially less than enthusiastic about Russ invading his space, was pretty funny. I also enjoyed the scene when Russ finally declares his love and thought it was quite romantic. Overall, Mouth to Mouth had some fairly entertaining moments that made it a worthwhile read. It just wasn't entirely to my liking from a personal preference standpoint, and I think the character's personalities were a little too different from my own and not explored fully enough for me to truly appreciate them. I think the book had great potential and I really wanted to love it, but in the end it just didn't quite reach that level for me. However, anyone who enjoys light, steamy stories, but isn't bothered by the hook-up-now, ask-questions-later approach to romance will probably enjoy it quite a bit.
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