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REVIEW: Hot as Sin by Bella Andre

Dear Ms. Andre:

044024501X.01.LZZZZZZZI admit that the one and only book I read by you was one about football and I had a fairly negative reaction to it given that so little of the football aspect was portrayed with accuracy.   I was   hoping that this would be different.   While Hot as Sin is readable, it suffers from the same problem as the football book.   The story is paramount and little details don’t matter so long as the story proceeds in the fashion that you want.   Accuracy, authenticity take second fiddle to the emotional arcs of the characters.

Sam and Dianna were the epitome of young love (or at least that is the set up that you want us to buy initially).     Sam was 20 and I think Dianna was 18.   Dianna, for reasons revealed later, leaves Sam at the tender age of 20 and Sam has never, ever gotten over it.   He’s so connected to her that when he is told she was in a car accident in Colorado, he immediately flies (from the Lake Tahoe area) to be by her side.   Sam is a forest firefighter, a “hotshot”.

The story that you tell about them – young, hormonal and immature was well conveyed to me. Their emotional arc was in overcoming this. I found it rather frustrating that, despite time and distance, they weren’t perceptive enough to come to the realization separately.   It was easier for them to progress forward by pretending the other was responsible for their failed relationship. Of course for either character to admit their own role in a failed teenage relationship would have lessened the tension in the story (given that I didn’t buy into the myopia, there was no tension for me either, only frustration). As an add on sort of conflict, Sam is distressed that he is a firefighter and Dianna is a big cable news star (not of a major news network but of some regional show).

The external conflict is represented in the form of Dianna’s search for her sister.   Her sister called to report she had joined a commune.   Dianna rushes to meet her sister. After a frustrating meeting, Dianna leaves, upset.   She gets into a car accident which results in fatality of another driver and lands in the hospital.   The twin brother of the dead driver finds out that Dianna has a sister and kidnaps her.   The sister is able to escape and report she is in danger but her captor cuts the message short.

For some reason, Sam decides for Dianna that if she reports this to the police they will not listen to her and the only way to save Dianna’s sister is to go after her. Even if the sister is a flake, if she calls you and reports she is in physical danger and then you can’t return her phone calls, it seems reasonable to report this and not go running into the mountains with some firefighter.

Sam, who cut his teeth on “class five rapids on the American River in California” takes Dianna on similar level white waters in a tipsy inflatable raft.   “Was he out of his fucking mind?” he asks himself at one point.   That is my question exactly.   Also, given that Sam is from the Sierra Nevadas and Dianna is from San Francisco, what the hell are the two doing hiking by themselves? Doesn’t it make sense to get someone to guide them or is one mountain range just the same as any other?   Of course, having a guide along would ruin the possibility for sexy hijinks between the two.

Dianna, however, turns out to be “instinctively better at rafting than most of the guys he went rafting with during his off months.” Dianna and Sam also engage in cliff climbing (something Dianna also has never done before) and hiking long distances (again, something Dianna is engaging in just one day after a traumatic car wreck).   The boon for the story is that because Dianna is so inept, Sam gets to save her  again and again and again.

There were editing problems:

Pulling out a credit card, he got them each a room, knowing it wasn’t exactly what they’d prefer, but deciding to take what they could get at this point.

He didn’t beat around the bush when he emerged from the lobby. “They only had one room left.”

How could he get them each a room when there was only one room left?   He could have “tried” to get them each a room but he couldn’t actually succeed.

“But he couldn’t ignore the dichotomy between her salary and his.”

Dichotomy? I think you meant discrepancy?

Also

“She was gravity and he was falling.”

Gravity doesn’t make things fall.   Gravity is the pull between two particulate masses.    Gravity = the force on two masses.   If she is the force that pulls two masses together, then he would be one mass and …. what would be the other?   There were others, but the point is that once I spotted a couple, I began to question all the metaphors and similes.

The implausibility of the story continues to the very end where the hero rises miracuously from a fall that should have killed most mortal men and he just gets a CT scan and is released.   Like that would EVER HAPPEN IN REAL LIFE.   Also? They give him clothes from a doctor because he is just too big for the hospital gowns (he is, by the way, 6’2″ which is not so enormous that they don’t have gowns for peeps his size.)

The writing style was frustrating.   The characters constantly talk to themselves in the form of rhetorical questions. Sometimes it seemed like it was pages and pages of rhetorical questions:

But hadn’t he done the same thing she was doing now, immediately assumign that she had to be looking down on him and his salary?

How much of the blue-collar, white-collar dichotomy was in his own head?

Only a handful of people knew he played.   How could he have forgotten Dianna was one of them?

Damn it, was there anything they could talk about that wasn’t a minefield?”

….

Did he know that his touch made her heart race?   That even without touching an erogenous zone, she was getting hopelessly aroused?

Also, for a book called “Hot as Sin” there was little sex in the story.   Up until page 173, the only sex scene was a furtive teenage grope and penetration in a truck.   The sex occurred, of course, on their trail hike.   As the two were sexxorring their way  across  the Rockies, I kept thinking  where is the urgency to find your sister?   Needless to say, toward the end of the book, everything irritated me.   D

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

18 Comments

  1. may
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 16:34:42

    I picked up this book, or maybe it was another firefighter one by her. Either way – I could tell within glancing through it was going to be full of errors, and being a fire fighter’s wife – NO WAY could I make it through without throwing the thing.

    Thank you for this review – you confirm & sadly help me to not buy this book. I wish her facts were stronger!!!

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  2. Darlynne
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 16:51:19

    Rock climbing? Running the rapids? Hiking? I question whether anyone would engage in these activities when going to rescue one’s sister. But my first question would have to be: without the police/sheriff, are you nuts? Thanks for the heads up, Jane.

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  3. Mary G
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 18:48:47

    I’m sure if a book was written with my industry as the setting & there were inaccuracies, I would probably say “what”? Maybe I’m crazy but Bella Andre has not let me down yet so I’ll still give this book a go. I can suspend belief for a couple of hours if that’s the case.

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  4. joanne
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 19:00:44

    One of my pet peeves with any suspense plot is when the protagonists stop in the middle of all-hell-is-breaking-loose to have sex. It’s a wall-banger moment for me, every single time.

    I also just had an attack of the thirteen year-old girl giggles re: “penetration in a truck”.
    I know, it’s not funny, but—-

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  5. Mary G
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 19:39:59

    OMG Joanne you’re right. I read so many romantic suspense books. When questioned at work about what I’m reading I always say “it’s about elite/black ops/navy seals fighting terrorism while having hot monkey sex”.

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  6. Jayne
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 20:58:48

    I attempted to read an earlier firefighter book of hers. It started off well but when the heroine, who investigates suspicious fires for the state of California, is allowed to continue investigating one in which her brother died and the hero, who is a suspect, is allowed in on the investigation, I bailed.

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  7. Jane
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 21:13:52

    @Jayne: What is accuracy and authenticity when you need to get your couple together for hot sex and loving?

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  8. Jayne
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 21:17:35

    Obviously nothing. What was I thinking to stand in the way of hot sexxing in the the forest?

    Oh, and the hero’s mentor is the first person who comes to his mind when he learns that the fire was suspicious but does he question the guy? Nope, he wouldn’t insult the man by doing that. People are dying and property went up in flames but it won’t do to insult your old mentor….

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  9. Jane
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 21:20:38

    @Jayne: But if he questioned the mentor, the book would be over!

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  10. jmc
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 21:35:57

    I didn’t even make it to the heart of the review. Sam and Dianna? Was the author channeling Cheers? Maybe only readers of a certain age would associate those names with Ted Danson and Shelley Long…

    ETA: I know, Sam and Diane, not Dianna. But it’s close enough that they are the couple I thought of immediately.

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  11. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 08:26:20

    Maybe I'm crazy but Bella Andre has not let me down yet so I'll still give this book a go

    Me too. I hate sports, but I read the football books (any inaccuracies would have slid right past me, as I know nada about American Football).

    It started off well but when the heroine, who investigates suspicious fires for the state of California, is allowed to continue investigating one in which her brother died and the hero, who is a suspect, is allowed in on the investigation, I bailed.

    Her brother died in a different fire.

    And I have to say, I know a number of actual Hot Shots, and these guys read just like them (though slightly more sober in their off time).

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  12. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 08:33:50

    @Kalen Hughes I’m surprised that someone who is such a stickler for historical accuracy would take issue with a reader who questions the accuracy and authenticity in other books. My issue wasn’t with the characterization of a Hot Shot but the implausibility of the entire plot set up. For a person involved in a highway fatality to not have to give a statement to a trooper or be part of an investigation is not accurate. Further, I have a very hard time believing that a person in a high speed collision would be able to engage in a 2 day strenuous hike/rafting/climbing in the mountains. etc. etc.

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  13. Jayne
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 09:04:52

    @Kalen Hughes:

    Her brother died in a different fire.

    I didn’t read much past this and it’s been a number of months so obviously I misremembered this part. But I do recall there’s something about the investigation that causes her superior to almost put the breaks on letting her continue.

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  14. Joyce DeBacco
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 09:07:07

    Where was the editor on this book? And how could one with such blatant errors be published by a major publisher? Oh, I know. The author has already made her bones in the business. Figures.

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  15. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 09:58:37

    My issue wasn't with the characterization of a Hot Shot but the implausibility of the entire plot set up.

    I haven’t read this one yet (broke my stupid CyBook and am still waiting for the replacement to show up), but I frequently have this same problem with most of the Romantic Suspense I read. *shrug* I find the entire subgenre to be mostly filled with plots that are utterly implausible. I’m not saying you’re not allowed to chuck the book because it bugged you, I'm just saying that I'm still going to read it.

    My only problem with Andre’s Hot Shot books is that I feel like she’s been forced to dial the heat level down and I don’t think it’s working in her favor. These books read like Andre-lite. I liked her “erotic” romances more and I hope that her next book takes her back in that direction.

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  16. Rowan
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 09:17:38

    I read the first one (Wild Heat) and…I kept thinking “That can’t be right.” “That would never be allowed!” and “No, I can’t believe that would happen.” I kept reading anyway, because I wanted to know whodunnit, but…I was very aware that what I was reading wasn’t…right? realistic?
    It was much like watching episodes of CSI:Miami, (without the “srsly? who’s writing this dialogue?!” moments. )

    That said, I did enjoy the afternoon I spent with the book. I just didn’t get lost in it, which is my goal when I read, so I’m not inclined to pick up another.

    As an aside:
    Before Kalen Hughes’ post, I’d no idea that Bella Andre had written erotic romance but I am not surprised because the first scene of WH is actually pretty-damn hawt. On the merit of that, I’d look up her erotic work.

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  17. Maili
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 11:25:47

    @Rowan

    It was much like watching episodes of CSI:Miami, (without the “srsly? who's writing this dialogue?!” moments. )

    I have to be honest: when I think of CSI: Miami, I think of David Caruso’s ritual or signature.

    Takes his sunglasses off or holds his sunglasses.
    Stares ahead meaningfully for a moment or two (and sometimes, squints his eyes).
    Delivers his line (usually making a vow to serve justice).
    Puts his sunglasses on.
    Hitches up his trousers a bit.
    Strolls away.

    It was seriously hypnotic. He did this in every episode. It’s practically a ritual. So much that when I watched a film he was in, I sub-consciously waited for it to happen.

    Sorry for going off-topic.

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  18. Rowan
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 11:40:54

    @Maili: Yes, the ritual is all kinds of (comedic) awesomeness. I’m sure he does it now as a parody of himself. I have to think that, or it’s just sad…

    That show is one Hub and I watched regularly for sheer “you know that wouldn’t work”ness. Yknow, where he is allowed to investigate his own son’s case. Where he’s allowed to arrest his ex-wife. Where he goes out of the country to shoot someone out of vengeance… (I still don’t get that episode) Not to mention how children and women who’ve been victims of horrific crimes instantly trust him…

    erm. The point being that I got to the point where I was well aware this wasn’t a show I was going to take seriously, but I was entertained by all the same. (Although even that lost it’s appeal after a while.) But there was a time where despite the wooden dialogue, the ritual, the unbelievability of it…it was interesting enough that I could watch it anyway.

    That’s this book. I knew it wasn’t RIGHT, I knew there were things that just would NOT happen that way…but I was invested enough to find out the ending.

    But it does blur the enjoyment of the story for me. I’m all-too aware that it’s a story, and so I can’t sink into it and get lost in it like I should.

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