Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

REVIEW: Twice as Hot by Gena Showalter

Cover image for Twice as Hot by Gena ShowalterDear Ms. Showalter,

I read Playing With Fire when it came out in 2006 and enjoyed it, enough to hope that there would be a sequel. I realize that the book was subtitled Tales of an Extraordinary Girl, and wasn’t sure how much mileage you’d get out of a single character romance. I also didn’t think that it would take FOUR YEARS for a sequel to show up. Please note: it was worth the wait.

Belle Jamison’s power over the four elements wasn’t a welcome gift; rather it was a surprise slipped into her latte by a scientist determined to see if his formula would work. It did, and now that Belle has her powers, she’s working with the good guys (PSI, or Paranormal Studies and Investigations) to catch scrims (supernatural criminals, of course) with her gorgeous hunk of a man, Rome Masters. Belle is planning her wedding, working as an agent, and trying to figure out what’s going on with her friends when her already crazy world is nearly blown to bits: While out on a mission, Rome has all of his memories of his life with Belle stolen. It’s up to Belle to make Rome remember her, keep Rome’s ex-wife from winning him back, catch the bad guys, plan her wedding and save the day.

This book is written like a graphic novel, without the graphics. It’s a superhero cartoon on the written page, with hilarious, even borderline ridiculous, references like the “nighty-night cocktail” (knockout drug), OASS (Observation and Application of Supernatural Studies – the bad guys, hah), and nicknames like Pretty Boy and Memory Man. It’s written in first person, from Belle’s point of view, but it works because of the verve, sarcasm and winning demeanor that is Belle herself. She may have superpowers, but Belle is in no way a Mary Sue. All of her thoughts, feelings and emotions are on display since the reader is in her head. Nothing feels disjointed, clunky or like an info dump; the first person works here as streamlined storytelling, and Belle’s voice clearly comes through in every description, scene and dialogue exchange. I was pleasantly surprised that I could really feel emotions (both sexual and non-sexual) and experience the chemistry between Belle and Rome. The book is fast-paced and the dialogue is a lot of fun, like this exchange between Belle and Cody, another agent:

“All right. Hop a flight, but stay in contact with me. I want to know what you know, when you know it. I’ll expect daily updates,” I added so that he couldn’t feign ignorance later.

He saluted me, the smart-ass. “Aye-aye, Captain. That was my plan, anyway. John and I already talked.”

Of course they had. John might have told me I was in charge of this case – to keep me from threatening to quit, again, I’m sure – but I knew the truth. Even though I held the title of Special Agent in Charge, Cody and Rome were the ones calling the shots. In John’s eyes, at least. Still, I planned to do things my way.

Belle wants to take charge of something, and prove herself to pretty much everyone around her; partly because she doesn’t really believe in herself. While this may be a fun, light story, Belle experiences plenty of growth and really takes the time to question and examine her friends, her lover and herself.

Because there is such a cartoonish quality to the worldbuilding, the book could have easily veered into the ridiculous. But every time there was a superhero fight or any sort of action it felt real, people were hurt (both mentally and physically), there were repercussions and fallout. This line from Pixar’s The Incredibles kept coming to mind (in Holly Hunter’s voice, please):

Remember the bad guys on the shows you used to watch on Saturday mornings? Well, these guys aren’t like those guys. They won’t exercise restraint because you are children. They will kill you if they get the chance. Do not give them that chance.

Playing with Fire was fun, but Twice as Hot was so much more in terms of character growth, emotion and intensity. I’m pleased that Belle and Rome came back for a second round. A-.

~Shuzluva

This book can be purchased at Amazon, Kindle, or other retailers although I can’t seem to find any buy links at Harlequin, Fictionwise, etc. ??.

This book was provided to the reviewer by either the author or publisher. The reviewer did not pay for this book but received it free.

Sydney (better known by her handle, Shuzluva) knew that she wanted to be Han Solo's copilot after seeing Star Wars at the tender age of 5. She fell in love with romance novels over 20 years ago when she got her hands on Sandra Brown's Texas! trilogy, and in the mid 90's was overjoyed to discover romance writers had branched out into the world of SciFi/fantasy. While she enjoys the occasional contemporary or historical novel, the world of SciFi holds an unshakable fascination for her. Some of her favorite authors include Nalini Singh, Catherine Asaro and Kresley Cole, and she's always interested in adding new authors to the list.

7 Comments

  1. lou
    Jan 27, 2010 @ 15:45:28

    I’m so happy this has received an A grade. :D

    I loved Tales of an Extraordinary Girl, and I’ve been impatiently waiting for this to be released – 4 years is a long time lol.

    Twice as Hot is officially released in February, but it seems Kindle and Amazon have released it early. I shall endeavour to wait patiently…

  2. shellBell
    Jan 28, 2010 @ 03:20:15

    This book can be purchased at Amazon, Kindle, or other retailers although I can't seem to find any buy links at Harlequin, Fictionwise, etc. ??.Just bought the eBook from BooksonBoard.

    I loved Playing With Fire, and have been eagerly awaiting the release of Twice as Hot. If only Gena Showalter would write a book that follows on from Catch A Mate

  3. Edie
    Jan 28, 2010 @ 04:46:59

    I am seriously wailing here. I just did my order of new books and didn’t realise this one was out. Now I have to wait. :(
    I loved the first one!

    Though if this is a Harlequin, it might be in AUS! Off ahunting I go!

  4. Mar
    Jan 28, 2010 @ 06:21:09

    I loved Playing with Fire, so definately looking forwarding to starting this TODAY actually. ;)
    Great review, really good. Love Gena as always, she is one of my very favorite authors.

  5. Tweets that mention REVIEW: Twice as Hot by Gena Showalter | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary -- Topsy.com
    Jan 28, 2010 @ 12:02:54

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Harlequin Books, Gena Showalter, Erotic Romance, Sarah Louise, dearauthor and others. dearauthor said: New post: REVIEW: Twice as Hot by Gena Showalter http://bit.ly/c5rASN […]

  6. Jackie Burris
    Jan 28, 2010 @ 13:38:35

    Belle is back!!! Thanks for the heads up and the wonderful positive review so like you know that the sequel was worth the loooong wait. Have many of Gena Showalter’s books and here is one more to add to my shelves, yay!!!!
    :))))))))))))))))
    jackie b central texas

  7. RandomRanter
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 15:13:03

    Harlequin does now have the ebook listed, as well as the hard copy.

%d bloggers like this: