The Heat is On
If you’re a Blaze fan, you’ve probably already discovered Jill Shalvis. If you’re new to the line, The Heat is On is a good example of the type of books you’ll find: Fun, fast, and very sexy. It’s not revolutionary or extraordinary, but I don’t often need revolutionary or extraordinary to find a book just plain enjoyable to read.
Bella Manchelli has been a wanderer her entire adult life, travelling all over the world, and never staying in the same place for very long before packing up and moving on to whatever destination strikes her fancy. She doesn’t do long-term, and she definitely doesn’t do relationships. Currently, she’s living in the beautiful California beach town of Santa Rey, and working as a pastry chef for a little bakery. Everything is going great, until she opens the back door one morning and finds a dead man lying on the stoop. When the cops arrive she discovers that she happens to know the detective assigned to the case: He was the one-night stand whose bed she snuck out of this morning. Awkward.
Detective Jacob Madden has lived in Santa Rey all his life, and has never had a desire to leave. He’s a long-term kinda guy, but so far he hasn’t found a woman who’s okay with the heavy demands of his job. When he meets Bella Manchelli, the two really hit it off. Until the next morning, when Jacob catches Bella sneaking out of his bed. When she tells him she’s moving to Siberia and high-tails it out the door, he takes the blow-off in stride and doesn’t figure he’ll ever see her again. Until he walks into his latest crime scene only to discover she’s the prime witness. Now Jacob is forced to relinquish the case due to conflict of interest. But that doesn’t stop him from wanting to protect Bella – or from wanting a repeat of the night before.
Too often with romances featuring cop heroes, I’m forced to swallow a big Suspension of Disbelief pill when the hero – who has a major conflict-of-interest – insists on staying assigned to the case. To my delighted surprise, however, in The Heat is On, I didn’t have to swallow that horse-sized pill. Because Jacob’s character is adult enough, and professional enough, to remove himself from the case right away, and not throw a hissy-fit over it. Sure, he keeps himself apprised of the goings-on through his cop buddies, but he’s not out there stepping on toes and mucking things up trying to solve it himself. Which leads me to my next point.
I thought Shalvis achieved just the right balance between the romance and light suspense aspects of the story, because by taking Jacob off the case, the page space that would have been used to detail the investigation is instead devoted to the romance. And when you’re talking about a category romance, page space becomes quite precious.
As far as characters go, I quite enjoyed both Bella and Jacob. Their chemistry sizzles – seriously, sizzles – and I found them interesting, mature, and fun to read. They both come to realizations about themselves and their lives, such that by the end of the book I was sold on their HEA. Jacob’s brothers (one of whom was the hero of the previous book in the series) make appearances but said appearances are very brief, making this installment easily a stand-alone read.
All in all, I found The Heat is On to be a very enjoyable read. I didn’t love it, but I really liked it. And often that’s almost just as good.