by Susan Johnson

May 2002
ISBN: 0-553-582554-4
Reviewer Graphic Button Bantam Books
Mass Market Paperback

Ely, a small, fictional lakeside town in the United States, is the setting for author Susan Johnson’s first contemporary novel, Blonde Heat.

We are introduced to Lily Kallio, Ceci (curiously, we don’t find out her last name), and Serena Howard, three blondes, who have been friends since grade school. They are home for the summer, each with an agenda of her own. Lily is newly divorced and disillusioned after finding out her husband is cheating on her. Ceci is just out for a summer of fun, and Serena is home to help out her aunt at her dress shop. They each are paired up with three friends - Billy Bianchich, a professional hockey player, Nick Zuber, a water guide, and Frankie Aronson, a county sheriff.

Billy has had a crush on Lily since he was in the ninth grade and she was a lifeguard on the beach. The star of his adolescent fantasies, when the chance to get to “know” her better comes along, he is not about to say no. During the course of the summer, what had started out as a fling becomes increasingly more serious and complicated with scheming ex-girlfriends, jealous, vindictive ex-husbands, and their own fears of commitment, uncertainties and insecurities. When Lily’s ex-husband gives her a folder detailing Billy’s “sexcapades” during his career with the NHL, they have to decide if they really have something important, or if it really is only a summer fling. My only quibble is that I think Lily’s response to Billy’s past was a little extreme, considering this all happened before they ever became involved and taking into account who gave her the information and what his motives where.

Ceci and Zuber, have been together off and on for the last two summers. They are not mutually exclusive, when they are apart, but it seems to be an unspoken condition when they are - on Ceci’s part, anyway. When Zuber strays, this causes them to reevaluate just what they want from each other and how to go about getting it.

Serena is a trust fund baby, who has sworn off older rich men. Frankie is intrigued and turned-on by the sexy platinum blond Serena. They are from two different worlds. Trying to fit into each other’s world is a challenge they are determined to meet. Of the three couples, Serena and Frankie are the only ones who seem to coast through with few problems.

As with all Ms. Johnson’s stories, this one is full of wit and lots of hot, explicit sex. For those of you who enjoy a fast “hot” read, this is the story for you. There is no obvious happily ever after, but she leaves you with the impression that by summer’s end, all three of these couples will have found theirs.

I am a great fan of Susan Johnson’s historicals. For her first foray into the world of contemporary romance, I think Ms. Johnson, has done a wonderful job. I hope she decides to come this way again in the future with her writing.

Reviewed in May 2002 by Carolyn.

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