*I was given a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. I was not paid by the publisher or the author for my review.*
Published: May 27, 2014
Up In Flames — Lori Foster
This book technically isn’t a new book. It’s a novella of two of Lori’s previous books reissued into one combined book. For some reason, I never read the books when they were separated. Which is weird… because I thought I’d read the majority of her books. Apparently I’ve missed some! I had a small moment before I started reading Up In Flames, where I thought that maybe I had read these before, but it turns out I was mistaken, so yay for new books!
Since this is a novella, I’m going to do a review of each book, just like I did for the Hot Down Under review. Keep in mind that both books are short, because it’s a novella. Even so… each felt fully developed and neither of them felt unfinished.
Body Heat —
This one doesn’t have a plot that I’ve seen too terribly often. Actually, I can’t remember the last time I read a romance novel with this particular plot. It was a breath of fresh air.
Melanie (Mel) Tucker is a little pixie of an woman who despite her small size, has a huge heart and personality. She grew up belonging to one of the richest families in her small town in Ohio, and had a crush on the from the wrong side of the tracks, two years older bad boy Adam Stone. He teased and generally was a thorn in her side during their school years, and she convinced herself that he did it just because he was a bully.
However, Adam wasn’t exactly doing it for those reasons. Yes, he was sort of an ass to her, but he had his own convoluted reasons. Adam’s family was dirt poor growing up, and after his father was diagnosed with cancer, things fell apart even more for the Stone’s. For most of his childhood, Adam resented the Tucker family and their wealth. They seemed to have so much, and could do whatever they wanted…and his family had so little. At first Adam annoyed Mel just because he was resentful of her family, but as he got older he began to see her in a new light. He knew that they weren’t from the same circles, and was sure that she’d never see him the same way that he was now seeing her. They part ways after high school. She goes away to college and he moves his mother and younger brother away from their small down after his father passes away.
It isn’t until seven years later that the two are reunited. It isn’t exactly the most heartwarming of reunions though. They meet (more like run into each other) on a yacht in Florida. She’s looking to get away from her overbearing family and her newly broken off engagement. He’s trying to catch a ride to one of the Florida Keys because he’s got a business deal to make…and he’s on a time crunch. They both instantly feel the attraction that was always there but fight it.
It isn’t until they’re both thrown overboard during one of Florida’s many rainstorms (I’m a former Florida girl. I know all about those things…) into the Gulf that they seem to finally come to a truce. They end up being stranded on one of the many little islands that peppers the waters around the Keys. This gives them the time to finally really get to know and understand each other. Adam isn’t shy in showing her how attracted he is. How attracted he’s always been. She takes a little time to get over her shyness, but when she does she packs a punch. Adam should have just given up there.
Of course, they have some bumps. He’s a jerk and says things without thinking. She offers to buy the small resort he was on his way to purchase when they fell into the Gulf in repayment for saving her life (which he kinda did). He can’t get past the barrier of her being rich and him coming from basically nothing. I can understand why he was sensitive about it… but I think he should have let her explain in more detail before he shot her down.
I loved their little romance. There were times I wanted to smack Adam. Actually. There were several times I wanted to smack him. Or strangle him. Mel made me want to hug her most of the time. I also was doing little cheers of “YOU GO GIRL!” as she stood up for herself and didn’t let Adam’s jerk behavior diminish what she was trying to do. I also loved how they were able to put their past finally in their past where it belonged and move forward together.
My favorite character of the book was hard to choose. I really loved Adam, and especially Mel…but Aladdin was TOO HILARIOUS to not love. I mean. Who doesn’t love a pelican that steals underwear?
Caught In The Act —
Ahh. I apparently have read the books that come after this particular one! Some of the background characters are one’s that have their own stories and I remember reading them. How I managed to skip this one, I have no idea. I’m really glad I’m all caught up though!
Caught In The Act features Delilah (Del) Piper as our lovely heroine and Mick Dawson as our rugged hero. Del is a mystery/romance writer and Mick is an undercover Vice cop.
At the beginning of the book we’re introduced to Mick and his friends Zack and Josh. Both of the latter have stories of their own. Treat Her Right is Zack’s and Mr. November is Josh’s story. I recommend reading those after reading this one.
Neither Del or Mick have met each other, and as far as she knows, he doesn’t exist. Mick has seen her jogging through town though, and is attracted and interested, but he doesn’t know anything else about her. When he sees her enter a jewelry store, he takes a chance and runs over…hopeful that he’ll be able to finally meet his mystery woman.
Unfortunately… that doesn’t go exactly to plan. Bad guys show up and Mick ends up getting shot while shielding Del. They still haven’t been introduced at this point, but he makes it clear before he goes to the hospital that he needs to talk to her, so Zack and Josh make sure she’s brought along. Del and Josh don’t get along for the first part of the book. He reminded me of a big brother annoying his younger sister. He’s used to being able to charm women into doing what he wants… but his charm is lost on Del. She’s only got eyes for Mick. Which of course makes Josh suspicious. Both Mick and Del are so insanely attracted to each other without knowing anything about the other and that has Josh on alert. He’s not used to seeing Mick so befuddled by a woman.
I loved how open Del was. She wasn’t a shy woman. If she was thinking something, she said it. There were no mincing words with her! Del was really upfront with Mick about her attraction, which both surprised and delighted him. When all of his friends (who are more like family) show up, she speaks up and announces that Mick will be coming home with her while he recovers so that she can look after him. He’s a smart man and doesn’t argue.
I was a little annoyed with Mick when he lied about his job. He tells her that he’s a PI and not a cop, and that little tidbit comes back to bite him in the ass later in the book. He’s shocked to learn that she’s a writer, but I just loved it. I loved how she would just go off in her own little world while she was either plotting or writing… and how she’d get up at all hours of the night to write if inspiration struck. I’m not a writer, not like she is, but I’m assuming that her experiences are exactly (or close to it) what it’s like for the authors I read.
Zack and Josh, along with all the other supporting characters helped, in my opinion, make the story better. They welcomed Del into their mismatched family, and were quick to tell Mick when he’d been an ass. They helped the relationship along when it could have fallen apart (…when Mick was acting like an ass…). I loved that when he did make a pretty large mistake (HUGE MISTAKE) he didn’t beg and plead and use sex to get her to forgive him. He gave her the space she needed to think and let her come to him when she was ready. I thought that was perfect.
I loved how much Del and Mick totally loved each other. He’s not crazy about some of the ways that she goes about getting research for her books, but he reads all of them and supports her dreams. She loves him for who he is and sees him as her hero, much to his chagrin.
There was some mystery to the story… the “who ‘dun it” type of thing. I was left guessing about why the bad guys were doing what they were doing until almost the end. I knew who they were (mostly) but I didn’t know the why.
I feel like Lori wrapped this story up perfectly. There was enough tension to keep me on my toes, enough drama to make me run get some cookie dough as comfort, enough mystery to keep me guessing and enough love to make my heart all mushy.
I would recommend both book separately, but since they’re both in this one volume… I’ll just recommend this one! (Or I mean, you could go out and buy them separately…but that’s your choice)
Both books get a solid 10/10 from me.