As Hot As It Gets (Out of Uniform)
Samhain / February 11, 2014 / $5.50 digital
After watching his teammates settle down one by one, Navy SEAL Jackson Ramsey is ready to say goodbye to the single life. He’s even met a woman who intrigues him, challenges him, and turns him right on—Mia Weldrick, the funny and beautiful gardener he can’t wait to get to know better.
Except Mia isn’t interested in dating him, which means it’s time for Jackson to unleash his Texas charm and do some serious wooing.
With a teenage brother to raise, two jobs, and, frankly, a complete disinterest in sex, Mia has no room in her busy life for a six-foot-five SEAL with a naughty streak a mile wide. But one hot kiss from Jackson has her imagining all the dirty ways she could fit him in.
It isn’t long before their no-string fling transforms into something more. As desire unearths emotions and deeply buried secrets, Mia has to decide whether to give love a chance to grow, or let it slip it away.
Aside from a few years when my mom and I lived in Germany while my dad fought in the final vestiges of the Vietnam War, I’ve lived in the South, and I can attest to the hotness of our fellas. Could be it’s one of the reasons I really enjoyed Elle Kennedy’s latest installation of her Out of Uniform series, As Hot As It Gets.
“Everything okay, sugar?” he called out.
Oh boy. He had a Southern drawl. That upped his hotness factor by a million, though even without the accent the guy was a perfect ten.
Sexy southernness is so potent, even beyond the region itself. While any of the Out of Uniform series will warm your blood, this installation is certainly as hot as it gets. (Good pun, huh?)
We are introduced to Mia Weldrick, a gardener working two jobs to support her younger brother, Danny, whom she is raising. Mia is a nice addition to Kennedy’s series, and a nod to the many non-traditional families making their way through life these days. With a deadbeat mother who is trying to out-marry Elizabeth Taylor, Mia loves her brother enough to raise him when he’s dumped on her doorstep at 14. Fortunately, he’s a good kid and not the source of tension in the story. Mia’s harried schedule at times seems insurmountable for her own happiness, but she’s firmly of the belief that raising her brother is worth playing the cards Fate dealt her.
Jackson Ramsey is a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. By all accounts, he seems to be one of the tamer men in his West Coast SEAL team. He doesn’t join in the myriad of ménage à trois and orgies of his teammates (which make up the previous nine books in the series), he’s got that well-mannered southern charm, and he’s even a bit nervous asking Mia out.
The setup is really fun. Rather than lamenting Mia’s departure after their first meeting, he makes note of the landscaping company logo on the side of her truck and schedules a garden re-do for his best friend as a wedding present. When she comes to him, all he has to do is turn on the charm.
“One dinner, Mia.” His tone softened, his whiskey-brown eyes taking on a vulnerable glimmer.
The vulnerability threw her for a loop. A man as big and sexy as this one wasn’t supposed to be so..sweet.
“One dinner,” she said sternly. “We’ll eat some food, banter some more, and that’s it. I’m not committing to a second date, got it?”
Said the fly to the spider. Any self-respecting girl knows not to throw down the gauntlet like Mia does. It’s hard-coded into the male DNA to ensure a second date is in the cards. Jackson's Southern charm broke through her haze of self-restraint, and in the romance world, that’s all she wrote.
But I did mention a wolf—while Jackson might refrain from group participation, he is certainly naughty enough on his own. His tastes run far from vanilla; they’re more of the decadent double-chocolate raspberry ganache with truffle filling and a cherry on top variety. He’s pierced. He’s commanding. He’s determined. And he’s oh, so sexy.
She sucked in a breath. “You’re … not at all what I expected.”
Shrugging, he approached the bed with purposeful strides. “I get that a lot, sugar.”
“Do people know how dirty you are?” she asked in a breathy voice. “Do they know that the gentleman thing is a total act?”
Despite his gallant façade and wicked core, Jackson is very much a family man without a family. He’s hit a point in his adult life when he would like to have a permanent partner, like his friends and teammates. He grew up very closely with his family, but a devastating misunderstanding as a teenager labeled him a rogue and outcast in his small Texas hometown.
The dichotomy is engrossing: Mia never knew what it was like to have a supportive family and doesn’t know what she’s missing. Jackson knows exactly what he’s missing, and is taking steps to regain that comfort of family. He’s willing to shuffle the cards of Fate, and as the title alludes: the hotter the better.
Learn more or pre-order a copy of As Hot As It Gets by Elle Kennedy, available February 11, 2014:
Dolly Sickles is a Southerner with a lifelong penchant for storytelling. Her Secret Squirrel identity is Dolly Sickles, but she also writes romance as Becky Moore, and this year her first children’s book will be published as Dolly Dozier. She’s an avid reader of all literature, but she takes refuge in the romance genre, where despite the most grandiose, exhilarating, strange, and unlikely plot that’s out there, every story has a happy ending.