Hot & Heavy
I was intrigued by Hot & Heavy because of the yoga teacher heroine. A veteran of many a meat-market yoga class, I thought perhaps these were my people – falling in love (or something else) in downward dog. The description is somewhat misleading, though. The book really isn’t about yoga, and the heroine is not your typical yoga teacher. That’s not bad; I quite liked the book anyway. The title, on the other hand, just as advertised. Hot & Heavy. Which it is.
To say Sage grew up with a free-spirited mom is an understatement. She wandered from place to place and man to man, sometimes leaving in the middle of the night. Sage has compensated by being the exact opposite. She’s an accountant who happens to teach yoga – because she manages her mom’s yoga studio. Nonetheless, it is more than a little out of character for her when she hooks up with an extremely hot guy at a bachelorette party, having explosive sex in a shadowy hallway. Unaware that she is a heroine in a romance novel, she dismisses the man and the experience, and is sure she’ll never see him again.
Shawn Wilson is much less dismissive of the bachelorette party encounter. Something about the woman really got to him. He has his own issues, of course. He’s a highly-paid wide receiver for the San Diego ‘Lightning’, and his risk-taking behaviors are in danger of getting him in trouble. Not risky like bar hook-up risky; risky like cliff diving. He’s been warned about stuff like this before, and when his teammate’s wife notices him nursing a sore shoulder, she recommends yoga as a way to help heal the injury. She happens to be Sage’s best friend, so she sends Shawn in Sage’s direction.
Shawn is naturally famous and very recognizable – and he’d also much rather keep his injuries quiet, so he requests private lessons. The fact that he is very attracted to Sage and eager to repeat the bachelorette party sex definitely factors into his request as well. Ordinarily Sage would be inclined to refuse, but the yoga studio has recently been drained of a large amount of cash by Sage’s flaky mom, so she names a ridiculous price that she’s sure no one would pay. Shawn, being a rich NFL player, writes her a check.
That’s kind of where the yoga starts and ends, which is okay. On the surface this is a story about a yoga teacher and a football player, but underneath that it’s about two people who are very attracted to each other but possibly have incompatible neuroses. After her nomadic and chaotic youth, Sage craves structure and security. Her choice to become an accountant was very deliberate, and putting numbers in order suits her. The need to run interference and pick up after her mother is on-going. Shawn, on the other hand, has reasons for his dangerous risk-taking. His mother and sister died in a car accident when he was young – on the way to drop him off at football practice. And while he doesn’t exactly blame himself for their deaths anymore, he feels closest to his mom when he’s on the edge of danger. Like him, she was a bit of an adrenaline junkie; cliff diving, mountain climbing, free diving in the ocean – all these things make him feel her presence.
When things progress from secret yoga to girlfriend/boyfriend territory, their competing childhood needs (that have followed them into adulthood) start to collide, and one dangerous incident pushes Sage over the edge. Can their love survive these differences?
You can probably guess the answer to that one. What is love if not accepting that a person – and his or her baggage – is worth it? The question as I reader ask, is whether it’s worth it to you. On the balance, I’d weigh in on the pro side with this one. This isn’t a brilliant or ground-breaking book, and it might not be the yoga studio romance I thought I signed up for. However, I enjoyed the very steamy (if at times a little over the top) sex scenes and I liked the characters. I think a really good opening can count for a lot, and Hot & Heavy has a steamy and fun start. It got me interested, it was sexy and funny, and it set up the characters and their personalities perfectly.
I liked both Sage and Shawn. The reasons for their various hang-ups made sense, but they didn’t weigh the book down. The story is told in the first person, alternating points of view, which. I liked and which worked well. I also liked Sage and Shawn’s friends, some of whom have been in earlier books and some of whom will likely be in later books. I have to tip my hat to Tracy Wolff, who – unlike many authors in this day and age – knows how to include past and future characters without being so heavy-handed as to be irritating. I’m fresh off two books where the characters practically walked in shouting “Hi! My name is HEROINE FROM BOOK THREE! Are you interested in me yet? Did you already meet HERO FROM BOOK ONE? You haven’t?!? We’re here so you will buy all these books!” I’m over it.
The only real issue that I had was that while there is a real, genuine, believable conflict between the hero and heroine, there isn’t enough time and space to truly resolve it in a believable way. It’s wrapped up with a neat little bow, but I didn’t really buy it. It’s not like I feel like I need to wallow in the angst of their problems, but I don’t really want to see them brushed aside as easily solved and essentially unimportant. Saying something won’t be a problem any more doesn’t make that a reality. My honest assessment is the these two probably need a good seventy-five more pages to really hash this stuff out, and the rush made what good have been a really good book a mostly good book.
That complaint aside, I found Hot & Heavy to be sexy, fun, and entertaining. I’d actually read the other books in the series given the chance, and that’s saying something.