Where There's Heat

By: Grace Hood

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Angie Davis has big dreams of one day having her own cake-baking business, but for now, she works as a pastry chef at an upscale restaurant in Boston. When her irresponsible mother jets off to Europe with her latest boy toy, Angie must rush back to her hometown in Maine to rescue the family pasta factory. It was her father's dream, but not hers, so she decides to put the factory up for sale. In the meantime, her mother left tickets to a charity bachelor auction that Angie is expected to attend. After getting a bit tipsy, she bids an exorbitant amount of money on the man who used to star in all her high school girl fantasies back with they were teenagers. Although her date with hunky firefighter Darren doesn't go as planned, she figures it's for the best since she doesn't really have room in her life for a man anyway. When he asks her out again, though, Angie thinks that maybe a little fling before going back to the city is just what she needs to relax, but when real feelings start to get involved, she'll have some tough decisions to make about her future.

Darren Kelley loves his job as a firefighter and volunteering at a shelter for abandoned horses. He only agreed to do the bachelor auction as a favor to a friends who couldn't make it at the last minute. When Angie bids on him, he isn't too thrilled. Growing up, the two of them were from opposite sides of the tracks, and although pretty, she'd always struck him as rather entitled and stuck up. But as he gets to know her better, Darren discovers a kind, compassionate woman who is a little too driven for her own good. He sets out to help her unwind a little, but even after a passionate night together, she still insists that she's going back to Boston as soon as she can sell the factory. Darren knows he doesn't want Angie to leave, but can he find a way to persuade her to stay and give their relationship a chance?


Where There's Heat is a stand-alone, mid-length, contemporary romance novella. Angie is following her dreams, working as a pastry chef in a high-end Boston restaurant, while building her own business baking fancy cakes on the side. But when her mother jets off to Europe with her latest boy toy, she dumps the responsibility for the family-owned pasta factory in Angie's lap. Angie has no choice but to rush back to her small hometown in Maine to take over, and almost immediately decides to try to sell the business so that she can just get back to her life in the big city quickly. Her mother also left two tickets to a charity bachelor auction that Angie is expected to attend. She's not very happy about it at first, but after getting a bit tipsy, she accidentally bids an exorbitant amount on the guy who starred in her high school girl's fantasies. Unfortunately Angie's workaholic tendencies get in the way of her enjoying her first date with hunky firefighter Darren, and she figures it might just be for the best, since she doesn't have time for a man in her life anyway. But after Darren invites her out again, Angie starts to relax a little, and although not her usual MO, she thinks that maybe a little, no-strings fling might be just what the doctor ordered. However, when real feeling start to blossom, Darren worries he might not be able to persuade Angie to stay, while Angie fears that Darren may not really want her after all.

Angie is an ambitious, workaholic who knows what she wants in life and that's to own her own cake-baking business. For now, she's working as a pastry chef in a nice restaurant, where her boss allows her to use the kitchen to make her cake creations on the side. When her father died, he wanted her to take over the family pasta factory, but that's not really her dream. Then her mother makes it her problem, something Angie is none too happy about. She thinks she'll just sell the business quickly to get out from under the responsibility and get back to her life, but things don't exactly go as planned. Along the way, she bids on Darren and discovers that the old attraction for him is still alive and well, but doesn't think there's room for a man in her life. Once she's able to slow down a little and allow herself to enjoy her time with Darren, Angie decides to engage in a little fling before heading back to Boston. But soon she finds herself genuinely falling for the guy and feeling jealous when she thinks he might be interested in someone else. Overall, I liked Angie. She's a very driven person who has kind of forgotten what's truly important in life and needs to get her priorities straight. The slower pace of life in her hometown coupled with the love of a good man helped her to do that.

During his teen years, Darren helped his parents in their butcher shop, but after they died, he sold the business and became a firefighter. In his spare time, he and a buddy run a horse rescue. When his friend had to bow out of the bachelor auction, Darren agreed to step in. He just didn't expect to be bought by Angie Davis. Darren had noticed Angie during high school, too, but since they were basically from opposite sides of the track, they never mixed. He'd always had the impression of her being someone who was stuck up and entitled, so at first, he isn't thrilled about going on a date with her. But he soon discovers a kind, caring woman who works far too hard for her own good. With a bit of persistence, he helps her relax and unwind a little, but she keeps insisting that she's going to be heading back to Boston soon. Darren quickly finds that he doesn't want to lose Angie, but knowing he wouldn't be able to hack life in the big city, he tries to persuade her to stay. I like that Darren cares about animals and that he helps people in his job as a firefighter. He's a good man who's more laid-back than Angie, so I felt like they made a nice fit as a couple.

Overall, I enjoyed Where There's Heat and toyed with giving it a higher rating. However, when I took a step back and really started thinking about it, I realized that this novella had the potential to be lengthened into a full novel with better character and relationship development. It might have been interesting to more fully explore Darren and Angie's preconceived notions about one another and the little rivalry between their respective friend groups in high school. Things happen rather quickly, too, without a lot of thought going into them. Their relationship dives right into the steamy stuff pretty fast, and although they do spend some romantic time together, I thought perhaps more discussion of backgrounds, thoughts, and dreams wouldn't have gone amiss. The editing could have been a little better, too, as there was a need for more variety in sentence structure in places. Otherwise, I thought Where There's Heat was a good story. There's definite chemistry between Darren and Angie and I could sense their growing feelings for one another. The love scenes are also well-done, full of variety and passion. There are no less than three of these spicy bits packed into this short format, which was welcome. So I digitally flipped the last page feeling satisfied, making this a strong four-star read. Unfortunately it appears that this novella is no longer available for purchase at this time.


Grace Hood @ GoodReads


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