On the surface, Victoria is that romance novel classic - the poor little rich girl with a mean daddy. Thankfully, since that character is one of my least favorites, Ms. Andersen's heroine is far more than that. She's a wonderful mother, a resourceful career woman, a loyal sister, and someone who just might be big enough to recognize that there could be a place in her life and the life of her daughter for a pony-tailed ex-Marine. To make this book even more appealing, the powerful characterizations here go beyond Victoria and John. Surprisingly, since I often glaze over during "kid" plots, I found myself almost as caught up in the adventures of the homeless Jared on the mean streets of Denver as I was with the central romance. The author does a wonderful job of bringing to life the desperation of a frightened kid and the wise-beyond-her-years thirteen-year old who becomes his companion and guide. Frankly, I rooted for the two of them just as much as I did Victoria and John. For my money at any rate, in Hot And Bothered Susan Andersen delivers a riveting, sexy, wonderful book. Okay, so it's a bit contrived. When the characters are this terrific, I just can't bring myself to care.