REVIEW: The Heat is On by Jill Shalvis
Dear Ms. Shalvis:
This is a recommended read by Jaclyn but while I loved the tone of the book, the overall story felt very rough. Isabella Manchelli is a free spirit who has never believed in settling down. She flits from one place to the next, enjoying her time until her restlessness pushes her to move on.
Right now, she’s Santa Rey, California, working as a pastry chef. For fun, she participated in Eight Dates in Eight Days and on the 8th date, she propositioned her date and enjoyed a delicious one night stand. Everything seemed to be going swimmingly until she finds Date No. 2 on her back door step and that her tall dark and very sexy Date No. 8 is Detective Jacob Madden.
Detective Jacob Madden’s buddies at the police department thought it would be hilarious to sign him up for a dating site and before he could cancel out the profile, he had already been assigned one date. He honors his commitments, even if someone else makes them for him. But Bella was a perfect date for him and they enjoyed themselves for two hours at an adrenaline adventure place and then went to his house to enjoy themselves in a different kind of adventure. When Bella left saying she was leaving for Siberia the next day, Jacob only felt a twinge of regret.
The setup is that Jacob is a long term guy and Bella is a short term gal. But, Jacob is always telling the reader that he is a short term guy because no one wants to be in a long term relationship with a detective with his long hours and exposure to danger. Plus, he tells this to Bella and she believes it:
Ironic. Here was the first guy who’d tempted her to stick around in a damn long time, and he wasn’t looking for more.
“Let me guess,” she said to his back, fascinated by the play of muscles as he reached for the handle. “This time it’s you who?s moving to Siberia?”
When he looked back at her, the heat was still in his gaze. His mouth barely curved in a hint of a smile, testosterone leaking from his every pore. “No. I stick, remember?”
Maybe we are supposed to believe that Jacob is a long term guy and that he is just lying to himself and to Bella. But the stated conflict doesn’t work as well when both characters are arguing with each other about who is the shorter term person of the two and both are acting like they are sticking forever. In other words, I didn’t believe in the conflict. Plus, I felt that Jacob, in particular, feelings about forever changed whenever it was convenient to ratchet up more conflict.
Bella’s need for freedom stems from growing up the youngest in a huge family where she never felt like she belonged quite anywhere so instead of looking for a place to belong, she roams the country, perpetuating the feeling of being an outsider? I didn’t really connect to that.
While death reunites Jacob and Bella, I felt that the suspense portion of the book which involved the physical endangerment of all of Bella’s dates was fairly ridiculous, particularly given that Bella was only in Santa Rey for a short time. That’s a short time for someone to go crazy over a woman and start committing murder after murder. Again, convenient to ratchet up the tension but not so believable.
Despite my difficulties with both the plot and the setup, the characters are great, the dialogue is great, and the sexual chemistry is off the charts. You’ve always had a great way of protraying the men different than the women, particularly in dialogue and that was obvious here from the jocularity between the law enforcement folks or Jacob and his brothers. I was entertained on each page even if the reading was a bumpy experience. C+