Hot and Bothered, by Susan Andersen

>> Friday, June 10, 2005

Hot and Bothered, by Susan Andersen is related to a couple other of this author's books, one of which I believe I've read.

Wild flings are supposed to be short-lived.

Socialite Victoria Hamilton had hers with a sexy Marine she knew only as Rocket.

But now her father's been murdered, her brother's on the lam, and the PI John Miglionni, whom her lawyer hired, turns out to be none other than the man she stole away from as the dawn broke over a Pensacola beach six years ago .

And he wants answers. About a lot of things.

But mostly about Victoria's daughter--the little girl with his dark eyes.
This was nothing spectacular, but it did deliver what it promised: a fast, hot, entertaining romance, while adding some surprising nice moments. A B.

Andersen does very well with her characterization. John and Victoria had some unexpected depths and every time I thought we were going into stereotype territory, the author managed to avoid it and deliver some very genuine reactions. So if you're expecting a typical poor little rich girl / rough former marine from the wrong side of the track story, you'll be in for a surprise. The characters are all those things, but they're also much more.

John's actually a sweetie, with no stupid, alpha aggresiveness. He ended up being quite a reasonable, professional guy, which was something I wasn't expecting. I wasn't completely sold on him, though. Even if had changed, somewhere in there was the slut who'd screw anything that stood still long enough and then told his friends in pornographic detail. That's a turn-off on so many levels! And on a more shallow level, I'm not a fan of ponytails on men, but well, that was something I could get past easily here. Victoria was pretty ok. She was smart, and very definitely no pushover, especially with John. When he was behaving like an idiot, she called him on it.

The title really reflected the content of the book, as their relationship was truly steamy. I especially liked that Andersen doesn't hesitate to use frank, even crude language when she gets into John's mind. No "dances as old as time" here, the man calls a cock a cock and that's that, and I found this so much sexier than flowery euphemisms.

The secret baby thing was pretty much a non-issue. Actually, I thought it could have been cut from the book without it really losing much. It's just not a secret for long and it didn't add much to the relationship between John and Tori. At least it wasn't irritating in the ways so many secret baby plots are... Tori had good reasons for not telling John about Esme (she had no idea how to find him, basically), and John understood this quite easily.

As for problems, something that bothered me was the sexual double standards. John's promiscuous, Tori's past is very circunspect. In the 6 years since they first met, Tori's been celibate while John's spent his time sleeping around as much as ever. And there's one scene which drove me crazy in which Tori worries John might think she's a slut. Oh, please, she's worried a slut like him will think badly of her?

To be fair, I don't think this is something that would have bothered me so much if this had been the first romance I ever read. I certainly don't demand that an author give her character equal sex lives simply for political correctness' sake. I guess the problem is that 99% of romances give so much more leeway to the heroes than to the heroines in this arena, so every time I see yet another of them, it pisses me off a little.

Another problem were the children. Oh, yes, the children. Andersen's written the absolute worst child I've ever read, in her Exposure (little Grace only barely edged out Linda Howard's baby-talking monster from Mackenzie's Magic), and though her kids here are better, they still suck. Esme didn't bother me all that much (though the baby-talk grated), but 17-year-old Jared and his 13 y.o. friend P.J. were oh-so-fake. There's no way Jared could ever pass for 17. He felt more like 13, and a very fake 13 year old, at that. And P.J. was completely unbelievable.


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