It looks like Valerie Matthews has cooked a sumptuous Christmas Eve dinner only to be left to eat it alone. As if that wasn't bad enough, her furnace is on the fritz and she's freezing cold too. That is until Earl, the handsome furnace repairman, shows up at her door. Now things are getting a whole lot warmer as Valerie decides to be a little bit daring and finds that Earl is more than happy to fix more than her heater.
I spent the majority of my time reading Turning Up the Heat thinking that it was a nice little fantasy scenario, but not one that worked well for me personally. It seemed to be based primarily on stranger sex which is generally one of my least favorite romance themes. I really tried to get into it, but up until the last chapter or so, I couldn't help wondering how the hero and heroine could possibly have this wild, elaborate sexual encounter with someone they'd just met. Knowing that Valerie appeared to be having a lonely Christmas Eve, I wanted to just go with the flow, but her sexual daring was kind of weirding me out, as was Earl's forcefulness at one point and the lack of any sort of protection. Granted the author dropped a few hints along the way as to where things were leading, but in spite of that, she still managed to completely catch me off guard with a big plot twist near the end which saved the whole story from getting a lower rating from me. While I admire her skill for being able to do that, this is an extremely rare case where I think I would have enjoyed the novella more if I'd known the ending first. As written there wasn't a lot of character development either. I'm sure this story would appeal to other readers more than it did to me, but it didn't quite "turn up the heat" for me as well as it could have. Turning Up the Heat was my first read by Susan Donovan. Other than a few odd word choices, she had a pretty solid writing style, which leaves me open to trying something else by her in the future. Turning Up the Heat is found in the Jingle Bell Rock anthology.
Note: This novella has a few instances of slightly more explicit language that is typically reserved for the erotic genre, but otherwise the sexual content is on par with most steamy mainstream romances.
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