Quickie Review: Slow Heat by Jill Shalvis

Pub date: February 2010
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Mass Market
FTC: Purchased myself

The Blurb:
Baseball player Wade O'Riley's bad-boy image is about to be cleaned up by publicist Samantha McNead. But the sexual tension between them is about to drive Wade to his knees.
I know nothing about sports. Zip. Nada. Diddly-squat. I never played them. I never watched them on TV. I couldn't tell you anything beyond the very basics of baseball. And I'm not really all that interested  either. (Which probably contributed to the gaping pit of knowledge mentioned above). But I loved this book. Loved. It.

Corporate sponsors are getting nervous about increasing bad publicity surrounding the private lives of the Heat's players. As the latest offender in the bad press brigade, Wade O'Riley is forced to pretend to clean up his act—by pretending to be involved in a committed relationship with  the Heat's publicist, Samantha McNead. The problem is that the two have a past... and some serious chemistry.

I'm not a big fan of the fake relationship premise. It's just not one of my favorite set-ups. But in this case, it makes sense. It seems probable to me that a phony relationship would be used as a publicity tool. So I was able to give this one a pass.

As always, though, it's the characters that make this book. All of them, even the secondary ones, feel real...as if they can just walk right off of the page. Great characters are the key for me to being able to emotionally plug in to a book. I don't have to like them, but I do have to relate to them. And Shalvis does a terrific job at doing just that.

I was annoyed by the alcoholic father subplot and the way Sam just felt free to ignore Wade's feelings about his father even after he'd made them crystal-clear. It felt manipulative and would have pissed me off but good if I were Wade. When combined with another subplot involving Samantha's nephew, the book started to feel a little crowded with angsty drama.

The thing about Shalvis's books is that even if they have a premise I hate (like the pretend relationship) and feature a subject I am apathetic about (sports) I still laugh my way through them. I still love the characters. And I still place them carefully on my keeper shelf because these are the books I'll pick up to reread when I really need a good laugh.

My Grade: B+

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