BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Review of Hotshot by Julie Garwood

Publisher: Dutton
Series: Buchanan-Renard #11
Format Read: eGalley
Source: The publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Buying Links: Amazon* | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository*
* affiliate links; clicking & purchasing results in a small commission for the blog.

Blurb from goodreads:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Garwood returns with a novel of family drama, suspense, and—of course—romance. 

 Peyton Lockhart and her sisters have inherited Bishop’s Cove, a small, luxurious oceanfront resort, but it comes with a condition: The girls must run the resort for one year and show a profit—only then will they own it.

A graduate of a prestigious French culinary school, Peyton has just lost her job as a food critic. Out of work and in a bad place personally, a year doing something completely different sounds wonderful.

There are countless challenges and too many people who want to stop the sisters from succeeding. Among them are Peyton’s contentious cousins, who are outraged that they didn’t inherit the resort, as well as a powerful group of land developers who have been eyeing the coveted beachfront property.

It’s soon apparent to Peyton that their efforts are being sabotaged, but she refuses to let the threats scare her—until she’s nearly killed. She calls on her childhood friend and protector, Finn MacBain, now with the FBI, and asks for his help. He saved her life once; he can do it again.

Julie’s previous two titles, The Ideal Man and Sweet Talk, both debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list.

Bea's Thoughts:

Approximately the first half of "Hotshot" was a fast, easy read. Finn and Peyton meet as kids when he saves her life and they stay in touch over the years. Peyton's first job out of college doesn't go well even though it seems like a dream job at first. She leaves in disgust, determined to stop her former boss's sexual harassment of his employees but from a safe distance. He is not inclined to let her leave on her own terms and her life is threatened. That's when Finn, now an FBI agent, walks back into her life. He hasn't seen her since she was a teenager and is shocked to discover that she's sexy and gorgeous. He's also shocked to find bullet holes on her car. He immediately demands to know why and before you can blink, the FBI is involved in her sexual harassment case.  To be honest, I was never sure why the FBI was involved. It started as a sexual harassment case and then her life was in danger. All I really know about the FBI is what I read in books such as this one and what I see on TV so for all I know it made perfect sense for the FBI to be involved but it didn't make sense to me.  The second half of the book, where the mysteries took over the story, was slower and at times tedious.
At first, I really enjoyed the romance but the more I think about it, the less certain I am. She's fresh out of college and although she's dated, she's never been involved and never been in love. He's eight years older, very experienced, and certain he knows what she wants. That latter leads to a disappearing act on his part and also a misunderstanding between he and Peyton. She's so young and inexperienced while he's not and it really felt at times like a very unbalanced relationship. She does stand up for herself, but he has a tendency to roll over her. He's smart, athletic, handsome, confident, and loves his family. Peyton also loves her family, is not quite as confident but determined and spunky, is an excellent cook and inclined to be impulsive (though we're told she's not). They are cute together and both are funny but it just feels very uneven the more I think about it. He's not abusive or anything like that but the power balance is uneven. He's her first love and her first relationship and voila! we are presented with an HEA. Eh, maybe it's just me.

One thing I enjoyed was how Garwood handled the family relationships. Both Peyton and Finn's families are happy, loving, and get on each other's nerves. They feel real and I was happy to see a break from dysfunctional families. Peyton is one of three girls and Finn, one of three boys; for a while, I thought they might all pair up but that didn't happen. Although all three girls have acquired (NOT inherited, as the blurb says) the resort, the youngest sister Ivy is barely in the book at all and I'm not sure why she even exists. She's completely irrelevant to the story. The oldest sister Lucy is more integral to the story and even gets her own romance in the book.

There are two mysteries in addition to the romance. The first one involves Peyton's former boss, who is out to stop her before she can ruin his plans for money and power. There's no suspense; we know who's after her and why, we know who his associates are and we know, because this is a standard formula romance, that she won't come to any real harm. I think that we were supposed to be surprised by two of his associates but they were telegraphed early on. The only real question is how Peyton will bring him down. 

The second "mystery" has to do with who is sabotaging the remodel of "Bishop's Cove" but again, it's telegraphed early on who the saboteur is so the only suspense is how that person will be caught. There's no tension. In both cases the villains were cartoonish and under-developed.
"Hotshot" is a very formulaic, fast read that would be perfect for the pool or beach, where you just want to relax and get lost in a story. Despite the flaws, I enjoyed the story.

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