The Hotter You Burn by Gena Showalter
Description: Beck Ockley is ruthless in the boardroom…and the bedroom. He’s never been with the same woman twice, and vows he never will. With a past as twisted as his, meaningless sex keeps the demons at bay. His motto: One and done. No harm, no foul.
Harlow Glass is the most hated girl in town. The beautiful artist is penniless, jobless and homeless. When she sneaks into Beck’s home—her ancestral estate—for food, she’s shocked by his early return…and her immediate, sizzling and intense attraction to him.
For the first time in Beck’s life, he can’t get a woman out of his mind. All too soon, friendship blooms into obsession and he’ll have to break her heart…or surrender his own
**Warning- This review has spoilers!
Review: About halfway through this book, tears streaming down my face, I realized something: I didn’t actually like the book I was reading, and crying over. Despite this, I finished the book, staying up a little too late on a work day. I then spent my entire commute into work the next morning trying to pinpoint what bothering me so much about this book. And it did bother me. I had read the novella and the first book of Showalter’s The Original Heartbreakers Series and really liked them. And the first book left me intrigued for Harlow and Beck’s story as well as the third book, West and Jessie Kay’s story. However, The Hotter You Burn left me questioning why I liked the first book and whether it would worth it to read the third. Honestly, I’m a fan of Showalter. I love her Lords of the Underworld Series, her Alien Huntress Series, and even her Atlantis Series, though I read it a while ago. I think that’s why I’m so surprised I didn’t like this book.
This book is mostly character driven. In terms of plot, not much occurs. Beck, as learned in the previous book, bought a house in Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, with his two best friends. This house previously belonged to Harlow Glass and her family but Harlow lost the house after her mother died. Harlow was the town mean girl and basically everyone in the town hates her. She is homeless, jobless,broke and secretly camping on Beck’s land. They meet when Beck catches Harlow breaking into her former house and stealing a pie. The rest of the story revolves on Beck being attracted to Harlow, giving her job and a RV to live in. Harlow is trying to make amends with a town that hates her as well as wanting to create a home and stability, which totally goes against Beck’s One Night Stand policy.
Okay, so let me try to break down my issues with the book. Basically, it’s a lot of small things combined which put me off this book.
- Harlow’s life- We learn, in Harlow’s backstory, about why she was a mean girl in middle school and high school. However, halfway through high school, Harlow is injuried and home-schooled. Then, a time later, her mom dies and Harlow loses her house. That’s it. Harlow is presented as in her 20’s. What did she do between her injury in high school and her mom dying. Didn’t she get a job? Go to college? There’s a giant piece of her life, one which places her in the position she’s in at the beginning of the book, that is completely blank.
- Harlow’s job with Beck. Beck gives Harlow a job designing characters for video games. That’s fine, he’s seen her art work and knows she’s a good artist. But he essentially gives her his office at the company and moves into West’s. And then, when they break up, she’s basically fired and homeless again. So she moves back into the woods. Wtf
- Harlow and the Woods. Okay, I get the poverty plotline. But living in the woods because you won’t leave the town you grew up in, a town whose people actively hate you, seems a bit ridiculous. And when she goes back into the woods a second time, she has friends, somewhat, or at least people who might be willing to help her. But no, she goes back to living in the woods.
- Random odd things that Beck does- He sets up a trust for her early into the book and doesn’t tell Harlow- even after they break up and she moves back into the woods
- Beck the Man-Whore – I get the whole childhood sexual assault and friend-went-jail -and-its-partly-my-fault and abandonment by family thing but I’m not sure if that all justifies his fear of commitment. And if it does justify his fear of commitment, I’m not sure his and Harlow’s relationship is enough to get over that.
- How easily Harlow takes Beck back- this might be a preference thing but I really like when there’s a good grovel scene and when the heroine doesn’t automatically forgive the hero.
Honestly, I’m just not sure if I like the characters either as individuals or as a couple.
Despite my previous rant, there are pros to the book.
- It made me cry- Also personal preference but I’m a huge sucker for books that make me cry. I’m talking to you Midnight Pleasures and Kiss An Angel and Styxx and Blue-Eyed Devil. I’m fan of down-on-their-luck heroines. And I have to say, as many issues I had with this book, there were emotional, poignant scenes which bought my opinion of it back up.
- Chemistry- For as many problems I had with Beck and Harlow, both individually and as a couple, Showalter sure knows how to create chemistry between characters. Never did I doubt their chemistry, not for a minute.
- The negative side of small towns- I’ve been reading a lot of small town romances, i.e. Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold Series, and these books tend to present the positive side of small towns. It was a nice change of pace to see the humanity of Showalter’s Strawberry Valley, even if it was the negative side. It made the town feel more realistic.
Rating: 2 out of 5. I clearly had a lot of issues with the book and I’m not sure if I’m going to continue the series when the next book came out. But it also made me think. And cry. I really do have a soft spot for books that make me cry.