Monday, October 10, 2011

Bring the Heat by M.L. Rhodes

TITLE: Bring the Heat
AUTHOR: M.L. Rhodes
PUBLISHER: Amber Allure
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 31k)
GENRE: Gay contemporary erotic romance
COST: $6.00

For weeks, Detective Riley Ellison has been crushing on a gorgeous guy from afar, going into a different coffee shop than his normal just for the chance to see him. When the guy surprises him by buying him a coffee and giving him his number, Riley is taken aback, but doesn’t follow through, convinced a beautiful man like that would never be interested in a reformed geek. Color them both surprised, however, when the crush turns out to be a person of interest in Riley’s most recent homicide investigation…

This is one of those authors that I see touted around the blogosphere as well loved, but after reading this second offering from here, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that she’s just not to my taste.

The story starts out promising. Riley is a geeky cop, struggling with self-image, who’s been going into a different coffee shop for the past three weeks because he’s crushing on a guy who is totally not his usual type. Meaning, completely gorgeous and out of his league. Unsafe. On the day he vows it’s the last time, the guy surprises him by paying for his coffee and giving Riley his phone number, only to disappear when Riley looks for him afterward. Riley doesn’t follow through on calling, mostly out of fear that it’s all one big game and he’ll be made a bigger fool by trusting it. When he’s out questioning people in relation to a new murder case he has, a stripper at a gay club, he’s shocked to learn his mystery man is Dane Scott, a co-worker and next on his list.

That’s when it begins going downhill for me. I’m not a fan of insta-love, and that’s pretty much what this is. Riley and Dane can’t keep their hands off each other, which is all well and good for having hot sex, but as soon as they start talking commitment and something longer the very same night, my brakes come screaming on. I just don’t believe it, especially with a guy like Riley. It’s romantic fantasy fluff, and not what I read for most of the time. It doesn’t help that Dane is completely idealized. He’s gorgeous, he’s well-off, he cooks, he says all the right things, he’s great in the sack…the list goes on. He’s too good to be true, which makes it all that much more unbelievable that Riley, a cautious guy by nature, would fall for him so hard, so fast.

Any hope that the cop/murder angle will provide some added interest gets tossed aside too soon. Most of the case is handled and resolved off the page, leaving only the explanations for what happened to read after the fact. The characters involved in it never appear on the page themselves, and there’s never any real threat to either Dane or Riley, so calling this a mystery or suspense would be a complete misnomer. The murder is simply a device to shove Riley into Dane’s life, since it’s obvious Riley won’t take that step himself. It’s not even handled gracefully afterward to lift it above its contrivance.

I can’t even say the prose elevates this. There was an editorial mistake in the second paragraph on the very first page that almost had me stopping then and there before I decided to continue on, and unfortunately, more abounded as I made my way through the story. I know for a fact this author is appreciated by a lot of readers, probably for the very same reasons I find myself turned off to her work. But at least I now know that her style of romance is just not for me.


7/10 – Some editorial mistakes kept jumping out at me, and the off-page explanations were dry and boring

Hero #1

7/10 – Nice to see a cop that’s not Mr. Macho

Hero #2

4/10 – Far too perfect to be believable

Entertainment value

6/10 – Fluffy and romantic if that’s what you’re looking for, but insta-love doesn’t really work for me most of the time

World building

5/10 – Very extraneous to the story, the cop angle was more of a device to get these two connected than anything of real interest or complications



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