-- 'Rex on the Beach' by Stephanie Bond
-- 'Getting Into Trouble' by Leslie Kelly
-- 'Shaken and Stirred' by Heidi Betts
Average Overall Rating: 3.4 Stars
A little con
Investigator Lucy Bell is looking for a runaway groom. Fortunately, the almost-best-man (who's tastier than a double chocolate cheesecake) likely knows where he is. All Lucy needs is a little deception--and a whole lot of hot 'n' sweaty persuasion!
A little magic
Single mom Allie Cavanaugh has played nice with others for too long. Then Allie finds herself kissing a powerfully magnetic hypnotist at a carnival--in front of an audience! Sure, maybe she's mesmerized, or maybe the 'real' Allie is finally waking up....
And a little late-night mischief!
Abby Weaver abandons the cool haven of her pharmaceutical basement for a girls-only week of sun, sand and fruity drinks. That was the plan--until Abby finds herself going solo. But the beach is a funny place--you never know just what (or who!) will wash up onshore....
It's pretty typical that novella-length stories are usually only good for a fast and breezy enjoyable taste of what an author is capable of. The three stories in Heat Wave are entertaining, but don't really feel all that interesting, and probably not stories I'd come back to because they aren't entirely memorable. And maybe a little cheesy to boot.
The beach theme was nice though--it made me want to take a little vacation to relax on a nice, sunny beach myself... despite the fact that I've never really been fond of beaches.
But hey, this sounds kind of nice:
"We'll get a great room with an ocean view, go shopping for sexy new beach outfits and laze around on the sand all day, reading steamy romance novels and sipping umbrella drinks."
Rex on the Beach -- 3.0 Stars
by Stephanie Bond
I have a lot of problems with the premise of this story, if only because I'm not entirely comfortable with how quickly our couple lusts after each other even when they each have their own commitments--one of which is a possible marriage. But if you can get past that, the development of our main couple had a pretty good amount of potential to make a fun romance.
When two characters carrying secrets hop into a relationship, you're bound to have all sorts of juicy twists and turns to work with. So maybe if this story had been a little bit longer, it might have been more intriguing. But otherwise, even the characters as individuals were a little flat.
Getting Into Trouble -- 3.5 Stars
by Leslie Kelly
Leslie Kelly is always hit or miss with me, and I've read enough of her work to keep her on my radar. But a lot of her older work, or mainly some of her contemporaries are laden with dated romances, and an underlying sense of judgment towards females and their sexuality--akin to slut shaming, I'd say, but not quite so blatantly. I say 'dated romance' because it's quite typical to find these themes in older romance novels: a sense that good girls don't talk about sex, don't think about sex, and don't have sex.
Which is in full contradiction of the main female characters in her contemporaries, because they are cast as very sexual people--they DO think about sex, the DO talk about sex, they DO like sex. Except that there's always that unofficial disclaimer of "I don't always do this." Because it's quite alright for a woman to have sexual needs and express herself sexually... if she doesn't announce it often, or if it's not in her normal behavior. I'm not even sure Kelly realizes she does this, because I've read other works by her that don't have this underlying tone of a qualifying a woman's open sexuality.
It bugs me, if only because, even in this day and age, women are hesitant about expressing themselves in a sexual way, because society has taught us that women should not talk about sex nor even like it--that it creates gossip and makes you look bad. Even though it's perfectly acceptable for men to joke about, talk about, have, and/or even be crass about sex. On a regular basis.
I have a friend who can't even say the word 'sex' without turning pink and whispering it like it's an evil mantra.
But anyway, let me get back off of my soapbox, because this could go on for a long time.
Getting Into Trouble was the longest, most in-depth novella in this collection. A lot happens that really DOES create a well-rounded romance, with conflict, angst, and fun. I just got a little irritated with both of our characters: Allie for being so wishy-washy with her actions; Damon for taking rejection so personally that he acts all butthurt and kind of douchy about it.
But in the end, everything comes together and it's a pretty nice and enjoyable romance. My spiel about the whole 'dated romance' thing came mainly, because there were points in the book where Allie finds herself having to justify her attraction towards Damon, and it bugged me. The word 'scandal' got tossed out there, and suddenly I'm thinking, "What is this, a historical?" That people would disapprove of her getting close to a strange man because she's a single mom. That it was okay when all the other women did it, but NOT Allie, because she's the virtuous main character.
That she feels she can't be attracted to, start a relationship with, or get to know this passerby in town, otherwise she'd get judged for it.
Of course, it might also have to do with the fact that Damon is traveling with a carnival, and carnies really do get a bad rep, more often than not.
Otherwise, the story was pretty good.
Shaken and Stirred -- 3.5 Stars
by Heidi Betts
The honest truth is that Shaken and Stirred was the better written of the three stories, with a cute and sweet romance, a slight amount of conflict, and a Happily Ever After™. The relationship developed in a mature, fun, honest fashion, if a little too fast for my liking. There was a cutesy, breezy feel to the story's progression. And there weren't any overly complicated twists.
It was just a sweet little chick lit piece about a woman breaking out of her normal, shy and closed-in personality, and having a fun vacation; meeting a man, having a fling, and generally enjoying herself.
It was simply a contemporary romance, about a man and woman who meet during a summer vacation, have a fling, and start developing deeper feelings. The sex might have happened a little too quickly, and the "I love you's" were flung out faster than I expected, but it seemed like a pretty decently outlined, down-to-earth romance.
If only it hadn't been so boring. Which is probably why it felt like the shortest of the three stories.
But, nonetheless, it was still very enjoyable, and readily likable.
Roll #33: "Read a book with water on the cover, or where someone turns on the waterworks (i.e., cries) because of an emotional event."
The cover features water from a beach and ocean.
Page Count: 320
Cash Award: +$9.00
Updated Bank Balance: $258.00