by Carly Phillips

June 2006
ISBN: 0-373-77122-3
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Mass Market Paperback

Sophie has enough to handle with the recent merger of the two sports agencies, Athletes Only and The Hot Zone since she is one of the co-owners of The Hot Zone. Then Spencer Atkins, who is one of the founding sports agents, is "outed" in a gossip column and is suddenly MIA right before the beginning of the annual football draft. Sophie forms an uneasy alliance with football star and ladies man, Riley Nash, in an effort to locate Spencer.

Sophie knows Riley's reputation, but she is not immune to his charm and constant flirting. As they get to know each other better they realize that, despite their differences, they each carry some pretty heavy baggage from the past. Will this help cement their relationship or pull them apart?

Sophie is a beautiful, intelligent woman, but she has built some strong walls around her heart. Early tragedies have made her protect herself and not let anyone too close. Sophie is a woman who wants to know love and passion, but is fearful. There are sizzling love scenes as Riley awakens that passion in Sophie.

Riley may be a flirt and "bad boy" on the exterior, but he has to deal with past secrets that have shaped his life. He maintains an amicable relationship with his ex-wife in an effort to be a good father to his teenage daughter. The novel looks at divorce and its aftermath in a realistic way that is thought provoking and adds extra emotional depth.

Although this book is the last in a series, the prologue and other details woven into the plot make it stand well on its own. Of course, the reader will want to go back and read the stories of Sophie's other sisters if they have missed them. Carly Phillips never fails to entertain and delight readers and Hot Item is another gem in her growing body of work.

Reviewed in May 2006 by Roberta.

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