Turn Up the Heat
Zebra / March 4, 2014 / $6.99 print / $5.99 digital
“It's not you.”
There are only so many times a girl can hear those words before she believes that it is, in fact, very much her. Unexpectedly jilted by her locally famous boyfriend and haunted by a boss who makes Attila the Hun look like a lap dog, Bellamy Blake does what any self-respecting girl in her shoes would do. She rounds up her two best girlfriends and makes plans to get the hell out of Dodge. . .
But Bellamy's escape plan takes a nose dive on the side of rural route 164 when her transmission self-destructs, leaving her in the middle of a cell phone dead zone with nothing but her wits. Oh, and Shane Griffin, the hottest mechanic who's ever checked under her hood.
Yet this small-town man isn't all he seems. Can Shane and Bellamy prove that sometimes the most unlikely ingredients make the most deliciously sexy mix?
If I had to describe Kimberly Kincaid’s contemporary romance, Turn Up the Heat, it would be: charming. Seriously, I smiled the whole time I read this story.
We are introduced to Bellamy Blake, a “real estate analyst for the second largest bank in Philadelphia” with a boss who “made Attila the Hun look like a lap dog.” And she’s having an epic bad week. First, she and her boyfriend break up … after she learns about his big move while he’s on the air (he’s a local anchorman).
“Let me get this straight. You took a job in San Diego and you’re starting next week?”
Well. Didn’t that just put the sucker in sucker punched.
Then, on the way to a long weekend getaway at Pine Mountain with her girlfriends, her Miata blows its transmission. And that’s when we meet Shane Griffin, mechanic extraordinaire and local hotty.
“Hello? God, please tell me there’s someone here. Helllloooooo?” The feminine voice shot through Shane like a chaser on the heels of the wind that brought it. He pushed with both feet, rolling the Creeper out from under the car so fast that he was momentarily dazed.
For a moment, gazing at her from his upside-down position on the floor, Shane felt as if he’d been scattered to the four corners of the garage.
Sigh...who wouldn’t want to have that effect on a man? One of the things I picked up on immediately was Kincaid’s easy way with language, and the fun, vivid narrative that peppers the story. Not only does it add a quick clip to the pace, but it makes for a totally enjoyable experience as a reader. But back to Bellamy, and her bad week. The blown transmission is an expensive fix any way you look at it, but to have her little car towed back “to the city” will not only cost a fortune, the mechanics in town are also more expensive. So she opts to wait it out at the resort, and for Shane’s small garage to fix the car.
Since fairy godmothers are only real in fairy tales, real life calls for good friends to help you make it through the bad times. Fortunately, Bellamy has good support in waves from her two best friends.
“Oh, come on, B. You’ve had the week from hell. Let’s go downstairs and get mani-pedis, indulge in a dinner where calories totally don’t count, and then you can let me and Holly take you out to drown your troubles. We’re in the mountains. You can get embarrassingly snockered if you want, and there won’t be any witnesses.” She paused to grin. “Well, none that you’ll ever see again, anyway. What do you say?”
We quickly learn that her boss knows no boundaries, and though Bellamy’s on a much-needed vacation, Attila just can’t let her rest. When no amount of mani-pedis can clear the frustrated fog from her mind, Bellamy makes a rash decision in the heat of the moment: she quits.
Not to despair, though, because Bellamy’s a smart lady. And once she settles down and puts her mind to it, a new opportunity presents itself that will keep her closer to her new dream, and her new man. While her guard’s down, the romance begins. And though the pace may seem a bit rushed—she’s stranded for a week, for the most part—it’s genuine and makes the heart flutter.
“Hey, you’re cold. Let me grab your coat. It gets pretty drafty in here.”
“I don’t want my coat.”
“You don’t,” he said, his eyes dipping to her lips, then back to meet her gaze. It wasn’t a question.”
They didn’t so much kiss as collide, their bodies and mouths coming together with an unnamed force Bellamy was powerless to resist.
This romance is smart and sassy and sexy. What makes it work is that both Bellamy and Shane are a little vulnerable and awkward as they navigate their present and future selves, facing the weight of straying from the professional trajectories their parents anticipated. They’re both willing to go with the pace of their attraction and they come together, for the most part, as equals, and I find that to be incredibly compelling. There are challenges, of course, in their journey; Shane has a mysterious cloud hanging over his head, and Bellamy is unwilling to hear him out at first. But the tension is interjected at the right moment, and doesn’t wax on for chapters about how he’s not interested in a relationship and she’s not interested in being lied to. Real life decisions are quick and sometimes messy, and you have to step out on faith. Sometimes they’re scary.
They stood there in front of the baskets of apples for a long minute, just looking at each other. Bellamy’s eyes never wavered from his, and even though his mind screamed with vulnerability, the only thing that passed between them was understanding. Finally, she gave a tiny nod and spoke.
“It does, doesn’t it?”
And in that moment, Shane knew he was in over his head with Bellamy Blake.
And sometimes they’re freaking awesome! Read on through the very last page of the book for some yummy recipes. A nice finishing touch to Bellamy’s story.
Learn more or order a copy of Kimberly Kincaid's Turn Up the Heat, out March 4:
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.