Under Wraps
by Hannah Jayne
(Zebra, $6.99, G) ISBN 978-0-7582-5892-2
*
Under Wraps is a kitschy underworld-meets-real-world story by Hannah Jayne, which wasn’t really worth the time.

Sophie Lawson is a regular girl, if by regular I mean she grew up with her seer grandmother, to work as an adult at the UDA, or underworld detection agency. The UDA is described in the book as the DMV for the underworld, where vampires, werewolves, trolls and so on can go for job counseling and to settle arguments.

Sophie isn’t a member of the underworld, she’s been unfortunately nicknamed a “Breather” by her co-workers, including her roommate Nina, a vampire. Nina provides hilarious comic relief with her harsh attitude and Twilight-style jokes. Sophie likes her job, and she also harbors a secret crush on her sometimes werewolf boss, Mr. Sampson. One day, at work, Sophie is called aside to guide another Breather to Mr. Sampson’s office, a hottie cop named Parker Hayes.

Sophie’s overwhelmed just by meeting Detective Hayes but when she’s asked to stay in a meeting with Mr. Sampson and Detective Hayes, her imagination runs wild for a few moments. She’s imagining all sorts of fun situations for the three of them when she realizes that she is going to need to help Detective Hayes with his newest case. It seems very clear that an underworld resident must be committing some very violent murders. Sophie’s knowledge of the underworld makes her the perfect partner for Parekr.

Sophie and Parker hook up and start spending a lot of time together to ostensibly work on the case but they aren’t getting anywhere fast. They do call in a whole host of underworld characters to help them out in the investigation which makes things more complicated and sends the search off in a few different directions.

The underworld, and murder investigations, can be tricky, dark things, and as Sophie and Parker investigate, they get drawn into some scary stuff, and they might be no match as Breathers, to the creepy bad guys that they’re bound to face soon.

Under Wraps could have been a cool, modern CSI tinged love story but it flopped right out of the gate and barely limped along until the end.

It started out with a lot of background explanation on the UDA, Sophie and her friends, but the tongue-in-cheek explanations came off a little too aren’t-I-cute? It became annoying to me almost immediately.

Also, Sophie really makes fun of herself and puts herself down almost constantly, especially in her self-portrait, where she describes herself in the book, and she makes herself sound so unappealing that instead of seeming self-effacing, she seems so derogatory that it’s hard to understand why Parker seems attracted to her.

In the meantime, Parker’s attention is taken up by his mysterious case and he seems much more interested in it than in Sophie, for sure. He also stays enigmatic throughout the story, we never really get to know him at all and so even though he’s described as cute, he never really seems like a real guy.

Lastly, the detailed underworld character descriptions really aren’t my thing, but they can be done very well to draw me in almost against my will. That wasn’t the case in this story.

So, I didn’t like it. If you love underworld/paranormal tales, this may be just your cup pf tea, but it definitely wasn’t mine.

--Amy Wroblewsky


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