Author: Melissa Brown
Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Whitney Bartolina gets what she wants. At just thirty-four, she’s worked her way up from mailroom coordinator to casting director at a major Los Angeles television network and had a string of steamy flings, most recently with movie star Nolan Rivera. But when two of the contestants she casts on a new reality cooking show turn out to be as talented in the bedroom as they are in the kitchen, Whitney may have finally bitten off more than she can chew.
Conducting auditions across the country and looking for a bit of fun after Nolan, Whitney finds it in Chicago with Charlie Hutchins, a deliciously handsome British rugby-player-turned-chef whose spicy Szechuan beef is only the start of his sizzle. Then, in Montana, close encounters with sexy but mild-mannered cowboy and restaurateur Wes Rancourt leave her mouth watering for more.
Back in LA for filming, Whitney soon finds herself caught in a love square with Charlie, Wes, and Nolan, who’s stopping at nothing to win her back. Will she jeopardize her career by mixing business with pleasure, or can she turn up the heat without getting burned?
3.5 / 5 Stars
I liked If You Can’t Take the Heat, but I didn’t love it. The story had a lot of potential, but the main character Whitney was just…I don’t even know how to explain it in one word. Maybe disappointing?
Whitney was supposed to be this heartbroken, career driven 34-year-old. She was moving on from her famous, self-absorbed ex, Nolan, and given the opportunity of a lifetime at work. So she sets off looking for cooking show contestants, and immediately begins jeopardizing her career to hook up with not one but two contestants? Seems pretty crazy for someone who has been given their dream job. I had a hard time buying it, especially since she’s 34 and not 21. If it had been her first job, maybe. Her decisions were immature and drove me nuts. I just couldn’t connect with Whitney for most of the story.
The other thing that bothered me a little was how abruptly some of the chapters began. Some of them began mid-situation and it would take me a minute to figure out what was going on. It was especially hard the first few chapters, but luckily after that it smoothed out a lot.
But back to the potential in If You Can’t Take the Heat. I loved the love square. Even if it was a little disturbing the way Whitney was hooking up left and right, I liked what it did for the plot. As Whitney’s mom said, three different love interests gave her three different paths to choose from. Plus Nolan, Charlie and Wes all had surprises up their sleeves. When things got the most complicated, they got the most interesting.
Would I recommend this book to other romance readers? If you like a good love triangle (or square) and enjoy reality television, this one might be for you.
**I received a copy of If You Can’t Take the Heat from Amazon Publishing and Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review.