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Synopsis: When all of her friends made the decision to leave home and go to college, Allison stayed to take care of her ailing mother. Stuck at a dead end job, she finds her only escape through books. Until her best friend from school shows up and gives her the adventure of a lifetime.

Wanted by the mob, Vince is hiding out on his best friend’s island, pretending to be an actor. From the moment he sees Allison, he know things will never be the same. And when his past catches up to him, both their lives are in danger.

turn-up-the-heatLady Pokingham says: I have to admit I was sceptical when I started reading Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Turn Up the Heat. Allison the main character is shy, timid and spends her days working in a shop dreaming of a sexy adventure. When the opportunity to live out the fantasies portrayed in her favourite erotic novel presents itself through a competition, Allison takes it.

I really liked the description of Allison as a healthy and natural curvaceous size 14. So often in erotica we are presented with non representative fantasy women who are either skinny tall feminine and beautiful, or skinny, tall masculine and beautiful. Rarely is the reader presented with a curvy and beautiful woman, who the main male character describes as lusciously curvy with small breasts that were enough to fill his hand and that was all that mattered.

One of the first warning signs that Allison might be the usual stereotypical meek and annoying heroine was her description as a pure and virginal dairy milk maid, by the mysterious and deadly Vinnie. He is the darkness to her innocence. I have a strong dislike to bland female characters who lack believability in their search for love through their vaginas, whilst men feel the need to protect the weak female all while sexually corrupting them.

However, I love to be proven wrong and that is exactly what Kenyon does. Just as I am thinking ‘oh great, another one’ she allows Allison to transform into the strong and feisty woman that was her all the time, but that time and life has diminished. Once again, you might think what an unbelievable change in a character, however, the change comes through crisis which everyone can relate to. It is amazing what strength we the readers find when we need to, and this is exactly what Allison does. She is still scared, but her instincts take over and she is ballsy and brave.

My favourite line of the whole novel is said by Allison: “I might be female, but where I come from that doesn’t make me the weaker sex. It just makes me the more vengeful sex”. This sums up her inner strength and its believability.

The men in this story are as to be expected – strong, masculine, tall, ripped and devilishly sexy. I enjoyed the contrast between the mafia-esq men and the college boy actors pretending to be bikers. At first I was unsure about the male characters, especially as it was suggested that the college boys who were no where near as masculine as the ‘real’ men were gay, whilst the mafia-esq male lead characters were exuding macho danger. However, this stereotype was once again proven wrong with one gay male being able to fight and stand up for himself.

What I also like is that the overtly macho behaviour of the men is relevant to the story rather than the author creating stereotypically masculine characters for the sake of it.

Taking this further, Kenyon’s male lead, Vinnie, shows his softer side without it being sickeningly soppy, feminine or unbelievable. Once again the hidden side of the characters are authentic and credible, still being in keeping with their characterisation, rather than sudden transformations. This results in the relationship and connection between the two main characters being plausible.

Ultimately, I enjoyed this erotic piece with Kenyon succeeding in creating a believable relationship between two characters from very different worlds, in such a way that doesn’t leave the reader feeling cheated or nauseous.

The only thing that I could fault this short story on is the sex. Kenyon builds an authentic and deep relationship between the characters that is erotic and sexy, but will only one brief sex scene this could have been expanded on and heated up.