Conquering Jazz
by McKenna Jeffries, contemporary (2008)
Liquid Silver Books, $6.10, ISBN 978-1-59578-430-8


McKenna Jeffries takes a pretty common - some would even say "overused" - premise for her debut contemporary romance Conquering Jazz: two friends who hook up and end up in bed together. We all know the story, I'm sure. Their friendship has been significantly altered by the fact that the two friends have now swapped body fluids, they go around each other wondering about how they can still be friends, and they get married. Still, even if I know the drill very well, I must say that McKenna Jeffries pulls off her story with plenty of infectious sass and energetic bounce in her prose.

Jasmine "Jazz" Hamlin can't get her lust for her friend Reese Bryant out of her head every time they meet up for the movies that one evening she just has to blurt out that she wants to do all kinds of things to his body. Reese, however, behaves like every sane man would when faced with offers of hot sex with no obvious strings attached from a hot woman - he tells her that oh yes, they should have sex, and he assures her that their friendship will not be changed in any way. Oh, girlfriend, of course he will say that. Which man won't? Keeping the friendship the same as it is, only this time with hot sex minus messy emotions or romantic entanglements - that's like a man's wet dream come true.

Of course, with this being a romance novel, Jazz's heart doesn't get broken but instead, Reese falls in love with her while she has the luxury to ponder over the difficult decision of whether to marry a rich man with a flat stomach who adores her silly. The relationship gets complicated when her ex shows up again, however.

While Conquering Jazz is a very familiar read, it is a very readable story and the main characters are likable types. Jazz is a reasonable character who comes off like a normal woman with healthy libido and self-esteem, which is very nice indeed, while Reese is a charming fellow who sometimes seems too good to be true.

However, I feel that the story gets somewhat derailed in its late third or so when the author attempts to introduce the various secondary characters that will no doubt feature in sequels. Jazz's brothers are especially very intrusive to the point that the relationship between Jazz and Reese ends up being overshadowed by their overbearing big brother antics towards Jazz. I can't help feeling that Ms Jeffries could have more elegantly inserted these sequel baits without having them acting as if they are elephants leading a mad charge into a china shop.

The weaker late third or so of Conquering Jazz is pretty unfortunate given how enjoyable the earlier parts are, but still, on the whole this is a pleasant debut effort from McKenna Jeffries.

Rating: 82


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