Title: Hot and Bothered
Author: Kate Meader
Series: Hot in the Kitchen #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Source: eARC from the publisher via NetGalley
A Fire They Can’t Put Out . . .
Although her baby boy keeps her plate full, Jules Kilroy is ready to take her love life off the back burner. Despite a bevy of eligible bachelors, it’s her best friend, Taddeo DeLuca, who’s fueling her hormones with generous servings of his mouth-watering Italian sexiness. But Jules learned her lesson once before when she went in for a kiss, only to have Tad reject her. She’s vowed never to blur the lines again . . .
After a lifetime of excuses and false starts, Tad has finally opened a wine bar, a deal made even sweeter when Jules joins his staff. Lovers come and go, and he’s had his share, but friendships like theirs last forever. Still, ever since he tasted her luscious lips, he can’t stop fantasizing about what could be. Then she signs up for an online dating site—and the thought ofhis Jules with another man makes Tad’s blood boil. Even if he gets burned, Tad can’t stop himself from turning up the heat this time.
I always love reading friends-to-lovers stories and this latest installment from Kate Meader for her Hot in the Kitchen series is one of most enjoyable reads I’ve had with this kind of set-up. Hot and Bothered has all the great things that I’ve come to expect from a Kate Meader book: sexy but real characters, conflicts that are familiar and yet given that Kate-Meader-twist, great conversations, and amazing romance trajectory.
Early on, in the first two books, there have been hints on the special bond that Tad and Jules have forged, be it friendship or sexual tension, the glaring fact was that it was there and it popped off the pages. So when I found out that the third book is about them, well I couldn’t contain my happiness and was counting the days until its release.
More than a year after giving birth, Jules has decided to take charge of her currently non-existent love life and start to date again. And with the help of Lili and Cara, Jules made an online dating profile her starting point. Tad, on the other hand, would have wanted an alternative for his best friend. He couldn’t deny the logic behind Jules’ decision to start dating again but part of his mind and heart struggled heavily against it. He couldn’t even imagine Jules being in a relationship with some guy and what does that say about him and his feelings? He has no freaking idea.
I love that more than the very basic conflict of crossing that line from friends to something more, the conflict with Tad and Jules ran deeper. Yes, there is that ever present danger of never being able to go back to what things were like before. And yes, a relationship ending might mean a friendship ending as well. But more than that, there is that very personal struggle within themselves that they must face and overcome. And I think this inner struggle adds to the already layered complications of their relationship.
I love watching Jules’ character development. We learned in the earlier books that she has Dyslexia and her fear about her self-worth plus the future of her son was so palpable that my heart goes out to her. But she’s also strong and resilient and is learning to be independent.
My initial impression of Tad was that he is an easy-go-lucky, funny, and sexy Italian guy. But I really appreciated the layers of his character that Kate Meader slowly unravels for her readers. I’ve learned a lot about Tad in this book and I can say I know him a lot better than before. I’ve also felt a whole range of emotions for this man. And if you read this story, I’m sure you will too.
There were a lot of appearances by the other characters in the series and it was great catching up with them as well. And they reinforce the running thread in the series of the importance of family relationships. And that, for me, is a great message from the author, along with the messages of having faith in yourself, of fighting for the ones you love even if all the odds are stacked against you, and of following your heart.
* I received an eARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author:
Kate writes sexy contemporary romance that serves up to-die-for heroes and heroines with a dash of sass. Originally from Ireland, she cut her romance reader teeth on Catherine Cookson and Jilly Cooper novels, with some Mills & Boons thrown in for variety. Give her tales about brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron, and she’s there. She has a bachelor’s in law (useless), a master’s in history (not as useless), and another master’s in library and information science (yay, using). When not writing about sexy men and the women who can match them quip for quip, she works in an academic library in Chicago.
Kate is represented by Nicole Resciniti at The Seymour Agency.
Connect with Kate Meader:
Other books in the series:
Feel the Heat (Book #1) – Check out my review HERE.
All Fired Up (Book #2) – Check out my review HERE.