by Lori Foster, Laura Bradley, Gayle Callen, and Victoria Marquez

July 2001
ISBN: 0-312-97968-1
Reviewer Graphic Button St. Martin`s Press
Mass Market Paperback

Whoever first thought up the idea of bundling short stories together into an anthology deserves our everlasting thanks. We can read romances by our favorite authors and meet new ones at the same time. The time necessary to finish one story doesn't require a huge commitment, just an hour or so to ourselves with a cup of tea or a tall cool glass of our favorite beverage! Hot and Bothered is a perfect example!

If you are a Lori Foster fan (and once you've read anything by her, you can't help but become one), you will adore her tale about Luring Lucy. Bram Giles is driving hell-for-leather to the lake resort to stop his friend's widow from doing something really stupid - like having sex with someone other than him! Bram realized many years ago that he was desperately in love with Lucy, but she had married his friend David and was lost to him. However he stayed their friend through two kids, and then through a rough divorce, and when David wrapped his car around a tree after a major drinking binge, Bram was there for Lucy. That was two years ago, and he just realized that Lucy had an itch to find out if she was still attractive to men, and Bram was going to be the only one to scratch it or die trying! It's his chance to fulfill his dreams and give Lucy the experiences she craves. Well, Foster fans, rest assured that Bram and Lucy work through their emotions in the most sensually satisfying way! Bram is everything anyone could want in a guy - handsome, tender, caring and passionate. (In other words, a fictional hero!) Lucy is realistic about her age and her body, and refreshingly honest about her desires. Their romance will set your heart pounding!

In Truth or Dare, Laura Bradley introduces us to Shay McIntyre, a private investigator hired to look into a series of "accidents" that have plagued that testosterone-laden environment - the rodeo circuit. Bull rider Luke Wilder, whose conquests are legendary (aren't they always?) finds Shay rather an enigma - she doesn't immediately fall over herself to get at him and this is intriguing to the rodeo Romeo! The fact that Luke could well be a suspect in the accidents adds spice to the budding relationship and try as she might Shay inevitably becomes drawn into Luke's sensual web! Both have secrets, which must be revealed before mutual passion can become love and trust is a scarce commodity early on in their affair. But we know that Luke and Shay will overcome these obstacles and discover a would-be killer, even though they may find themselves changed along the way.

Compromised is the third story in this book and is written by Gayle Callen. Ms. Callen is obviously very much at home in Elizabethan London because she immediately takes us to a ball where a young lady, Elizabeth Stanwood, is devising a strategy to catch the man of her choice. Perhaps going into the garden with another might pique his jealousy and bring him to the point of marriage, but whom should she use for this purpose? Elizabeth notices a plainly clad, handsome newcomer, John Malory, and decides he is perfect for her plan. Unfortunately for them, plans like this almost never work! Elizabeth is amazed and confounded by John's heavenly kisses and ends up completely compromised. John does the honorable thing and marries her - her parents are only too glad to see the back of her! The trip to John's country home and the trick he pulls on Elizabeth are fascinating, as is her eventual realization of her own abilities and desires. John and Elizabeth are a delightful couple and their romance most fulfilling.

Finally, Victoria Marquez warns us about Treading Dangerous Waters. This delicious story has a decidedly Latin flavor; Sofia Sandoval's aunt, Tia Lucita, is planning on marrying Daniel Connor, but both she and her husband-to-be are concerned about his son James' reaction to the news. James is an attorney whose experience with divorce cases has made him skeptical of marriage and especially of love. When all four characters end up on a cruise ship bound for Mexico, sparks really begin to fly. Sofia challenges James' opinions and plays a dangerous game of misunderstandings in order to divert his attention from Daniel and Lucita. In no time at all, James is fighting his own inclinations where Sofia is concerned. Can happiness find these two opposing souls? Can James deal with a miserably seasick Sofia? And can they both find the joy in each other they believed impossible? You must read this story to find out the answers - and to understand why this anthology is appropriately called Hot and Bothered!

Reviewed in August 2001 by Celia.