Artistic Pursuits - Andrew  Grey This book is a difficult one for me to rate. It was good, and the story was well-conceived. I didn't think it really made that jump to "really good" or "excellent," though.

WRITING: The writing itself was technically good. I mean that literally - i.e., the technique of writing was well-executed. With that said, I didn't find the narrative voice or the writing to be all that engaging or exciting. I felt it was rather stiff, and I mean that not in the oh-my-manly-bits-are-so-stiff-and-ready-to-plunder-your-sweet-treasures-my-long-redhaired-lover sense. Rather, for the large part of the narrative, I felt pretty disengaged from the characters and action throughout the story, even when suspenseful things occurred. The exception to the disengaged voice, though, is in the sexytimes.

SEXYTIMES: Now, here's where I feel this book really hit its stride. The sexytimes in this book were intense and overall quite emotional. I might quibble over some of the word choices (e.g., I thought Leslie "whined" a bit too much for my taste), but the intensity of the sexytimes was never in doubt.

ROMANCE: Hrm. I'm kind of waffling on this one. I guess with this book's being an erotic romance, the love, emotions, and HEA kind of develop out of the sexytimes. Their physical attraction was pretty instantaneous, but I honestly don't think that, other than physical stuff, there was much basis for them to fall in love with each other in that short period of time. It was a nice fantasy, however, and I guess that's what romance is about for the most part.

STORY: I thought the premise of this story was very well done. Basically, FBI agent Frank ends up on a case that brings Interpol operative Leslie into his orbit. Obstacles abound, though, including Frank's need for control in his life and, oh, the entire Atlantic Ocean that separates them. The background of the case, the details of the FBI, and the way that Leslie and Frank would be brought together in those circumstances were well-conceived and fleshed out. I thought the case and its vicissitudes seemed very thorough and well-researched.

CHARACTERS: They were fine overall. I didn't get excited about them much, and I didn't really find an emotional connection to them. Again, I think this stems back to the fact that the writing style for me made me feel rather removed from the story. Also, I thought there was some inconsistency to Frank's characterization. He started the book as the "newbie" in the office that people were ribbing for a mistake he made on his first job out in the field, but then in the middle of the book it shows him acting all BMOC and asshole-ish like that's his established M.O. That shift seemed a little off to me.

OVERALL: It was a good, well-conceived story with pretty darn hot sexytimes, but for me, there wasn't anything to blow me away in the end. I'm curious enough to try another of this author's work, if only to see if that's just his writing style and maybe it's just not for me.

Note: Thank you to Dreamspinner Press for providing a copy of this book through NetGalley.