Review: Too Hot To Handle by Tessa Bailey

Reviewed by Joanna

Rita burned down her mother’s restaurant. It was an accident, and her mother has been dead a while so she won’t miss it, but even so. It’s shaken our girl up a little bit and made her refocus on what she wants to do with her life. It ain’t cooking, that’s for sure.

A request from beyond the grave has her heading out on a long road trip with her sister and two brothers. They don’t really get along, and they aren’t close. I guess that’s what her mama was trying to fix.

The trip is doomed before it begins, as their suburban breaks down in smallsville, and a very handsome man comes to their rescue. Enter Jasper. Think a cowboy Matthew McConnahey. Our boy is all kinds of interested in goth-styled Rita, but having been the village bike for too long, he’s sworn off sex and women. Jasper is trying to change his wanton ways.

When a day of car repairs turns into two, he finds it harder and harder (literally) to withhold his Big D from the girl he’s spending a lot of time kissing and hanging out with.

Jasper is determined not to repeat his old pattern with the Rita – the first person in forever he’s felt anything for. But what’s his end game? She’s leaving with her family once the repairs are made.

Well this added a nice bit of tension, with an every-minute-counts feel to their interactions. Jasper courts Rita aggressively, and dude has a filthy mouth. Do you like a dirty talker? Well he’s hot stuff.

“This is what’s going to pass for conversation tonight. Small talk is going to be my tongue flicking against your clit until you cry out my name like a swear word. My headboard slapping the wall is going to be our heart-to-heart. And that gorgeous body riding my dick is going to be our nighttime prayers. You with me, Rita?”

He’s naturally dominant in the bedroom, even if he’s not going to go all the way.

Rita is a hard nut to crack. She just wants to sleep with the over-interested guy and move on. It was way into the book before I picked up on any real head-turning from her. Also I wanted her to realize her own dreams now she was free of expectations and repression, so the small town felt claustrophobic.

Where you have a road trip story with interrupted traveling, I generally spend a good amount of time wanting the protagonist to get back on the road. I find it frustrating, and I did here. The nowhere dusty town had few redeeming features beyond Jasper, his grandma (who names everything she sees, “red shoes white bag. How nice to see you dear”) and his bar (called the Liquor Hole. Geddit?). The family stayed in a nondescript motel, there was little by way of natural beauty and I just wanted them to move on to the exciting place they were going. For the story’s sake as well as for Rita’s mental health.

On the other hand I enjoyed how the frustrations of them waiting on the car repair forced Rita and Jasper to push into days what could’ve taken weeks. They had to move fast through a series of emotions and a fair amount of time was spent on internal dialogue processing of this (I admit to skimming some of it, which I hate doing but there was a tad too much for my taste), and there was some padding by way of Rita’s family having their own mini-plots going on.

Overall I liked the family, and Jasper’s passion, and I liked the feel of the beginning and last third of the tale. Despite the sexual tension, I mostly wasn’t bothered about Jasper and Rita making it as a couple until pretty near the end. It felt like she had to subsume to him to complete herself and the claustrophobia remained at the back of my mind. This might not bother you, if you don’t mind your heroine giving up their dreams (whether full or half baked) and slotting into the hero’s life.

One of the brothers fascinated me – Belmont, who is big, silent and moody. Just my type. He’s crazy for Sage, a wedding planning friend of the family. I’m looking forward to his tale and hoping it has a better setting and feel.

Rating: B

Click to purchase: Amazon

Too Hot To Handle
by Tessa Bailey
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Forever

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