I’ll definitely be filing Deadly Heat under “guilty pleasure.” It features a cock-sure hero, steamy sex scenes galore, and a hero and heroine who can barely sit in a room together for five seconds without tearing each other’s clothes off. I’m not sure any of it was believable, but it was certainly fun.
Firefighter Lora Spade meets FBI agent Kenton Lake as she is pulling him out of a burning building – and he’s trying to rush back in. His informer is in there, and he has valuable secrets about an arsonist who is terrorizing Charlottesville, Virginia. Sadly, the informer is already dead, and the only other man rescued from the building is a vagrant drug addict. Kenton is in town because – indirectly at least – Lora asked him to be. Lora is convinced that the fires are being set by one person, even though the perpetrator takes the unusual step of using different accelerants. She goes over the head of the local arson investigator and calls the FBI’s special Serial Services Division (many of whom feature in past and future books of this series).
Although Lora and Kent are irritated with each other when they first meet, their sexual chemistry is immediate. They start acting on it almost immediately too, and pretty much everyone knows. For one thing, they are being followed for their own protection. But Lora also angrily announces their relationship to everyone when she feels betrayed. Also, they practically maul each other every time they turn around, so that raises a few eyebrows.
Basically the book centers around their search for the arsonist, who seems to have a weird obsession with Lora. This keeps them pretty busy, because there’s a new fire almost every day. Lora’s boyfriend was killed only about six months ago by the same arsonist, so there is some baggage that goes with that. But mostly the plot involves fires and sex. Both of which are – pardon the pun, but I just can’t help myself – hot.
So why is this a guilty pleasure? Well, Kent is the type of testosterone-crazed alpha male who in real life would probably deserve a punch in the face. He calls Lora “Sweetheart” in a possessive way that I would never tolerate outside of fiction, gets irrationally pissed off when he sees her with her brothers and thinks they are rivals for his affection (a romance classic!), and walks around in a perpetual state of arousal. It works as pure fantasy, but it’s pretty over the top. Oh, and his favorite word is “fuck”, so if that offends you, don’t even think of picking this one up.
The whole mystery seems pretty slip-shod, and I was not all that impressed with either the elite Serial Services Division or local law enforcement. It’s not terrible or anything, but let’s just say that if you’re a hard core fan of police procedurals, this probably won’t work for you.
That said, the over-the-top lust fest is pretty fun, and I liked all the steamy scenes, even if they were occasionally outlandish. If you’re a Tara Janzen fan, you might like them as well, as they have a similar flavor. Now, I’m not entirely sure that Lora and Kent’s relationship is going to last, because I don’t even know what they like to do outside of fire-fighting, crime-solving, and boinking. But who am I to say? Maybe that’s enough.