A graduate of a prestigious French culinary school, Peyton has just lost her job as a food critic. Out of work and in a bad place personally, a year doing something completely different sounds wonderful.
There are countless challenges and too many people who want to stop the sisters from succeeding. Among them are Peyton’s contentious cousins, who are outraged that they didn’t inherit the resort, as well as a powerful group of land developers who have been eyeing the coveted beachfront property.
It’s soon apparent to Peyton that their efforts are being sabotaged, but she refuses to let the threats scare her—until she’s nearly killed. She calls on her childhood friend and protector, Finn MacBain, now with the FBI, and asks for his help. He saved her life once; he can do it again.
My Thoughts: My big mistake in reading this book was starting it after finishing another truly amazing romantic suspense novel. Coming off of a seriously awesome sauce of a book and trying to read another book of the same ilk is setting it up for failure. Unfortunately I didn't think of that until after I finished reading Hotshot. I really tried to separate the two but I kept comparing them over and over again. I feel kind of bad about it too but it is what it is.
What Worked For Me: Typical of Julie's writing style this book contained witty dialogue and just plain fun banter between the characters. Finn and Peyton had great chemistry together and their first 'meeting' during the Prologue was pretty amazing. Some of the secondary characters were pretty interesting also. Ultimately the story ended up being set in Florida and I really enjoyed the resort descriptions while the girls where remodeling it.
What Didn't Work For Me: Several things, unfortunately. First of all, the story relies on the reader suspending their disbelief. A LOT. Peyton is being described as a stunningly beautiful, well traveled woman who even spent several months studying the culinary arts in France. Yet, she remained a virgin. It is unclear as to how old she really is but I would estimate her age to be around 24. The problem I have with romance books with a contemporary setting having the heroine a virgin is that it is not typical of this day and age unless there is some meaningful significance behind it. There was no significance to Peyton being a virgin other than a string of horrible dates with unfortunate men.
The reader also had to suspend their disbelief that one person could all of a sudden have multiple people out to get them. This seems to be a theme to Garwood's contemporary heroines and one I'm not thrilled with. The multiple 'bad guys' create multiple story lines which can muddle the book up a bit.
The characters themselves are interesting but Peyton flip flops between really intelligent, witty and wise to spontaneously jumping headfirst into situations without thought. Her sister Lucy is nothing more than a shrieking shrew and I wanted to shove her face first into wet cement just to shut her up. How any man could view her as potential mate material is beyond me.
In a Nutshell: Overall this book does have some problems but I did enjoy it. I have a long term love affair with Julie's work and in my eyes she can really do no wrong. I know that there seems to be a lot more issues than good points in my review. As a reviewer I feel obligated to acknowledge the issues in addition to explaining the good stuff. When I rate a book I tend to go by my gut feeling. Did I enjoy this book? Yes. Will I read it again? I just might. Will I read the next book by Julie that comes out? Definitely.
Oh and I can't end my review without mentioning one of my favorite quotes from the book (there are several because this is what Julie does best).
"You have to set a trap," Peyton told them.
Both men looked at her, and Finn asked, "What do you have in mind?"
"I don't know. That's your area of expertise. I'm a chef. If you catch him, I'll make you a soufflé."