Title: Hot Stuff
Author: Carly Phillips
Series: Hot Zone
Publisher: CP Publishing
Release Date: 3/7/2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Page Count: 333
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
He’s about to find out … She’s not just one of the guys.
Annabelle Jordan and her two sisters were orphans in frilly dresses when they went to live with their sports-lawyer uncle in his world of locker rooms, bookies and gambling. Now the girls are publicists in their uncle’s firm, The Hot Zone.
Despite her upbringing, Annabelle is all woman. She’s naturally drawn to real men—like her latest client, businessman and former football legend Brandon Vaughn.
The chemistry is potent, undeniable, irresistible. Annabelle soon realizes that Brandon is much more than just another jock. And that she’d better hold on tight if she doesn’t want to lose her heart.
It’s been a while since I’ve read a Carly Phillips book but I always had fond memories of her Lucky Trilogy. Years ago, I bought one of her Hot Zone books but I never got around to reading it and it’s somewhere in the depths of my book closet. When her Hot Zone series was re-released, I decided to give it a shot. I was especially interested because I’ve been on a sports romance kick lately. However, in my opinion, this book fell flat.
Hot Stuff is the first book in the Hot Zone series. The series focuses on The Hot Zone sports agency which is run by Yank Jordan and his three nieces, Annabelle, Sophie, and Micki. The girls were orphaned at a young age and their uncle took them in. The girls all run the publicity side of the company which Yank focuses on the sports side. It’s clear that all the sisters will have their own books and this book does give a good introduction to the family dynamic.
Through her job, Annie ends up advising Brandon Vaughn, a retired sports-star. He is opening a new lodge/summer camp which needs positive press. The construction of the lodge is being sabotaged. In a contrived plot, Annabelle moves in with Vaughn to help him with the situation. I really had a problem with this plot point. I’m not sold on how a publicist is supposed to help prevent sabotage and the eventual villain was very ease to determine. While this plot did put Vaughn and Annabelle in close proximity, where they gave into their attraction to each other, it didn’t flow very well. On top of that, there are a bunch of other subplots that distract from their relationship. Annabelle’s uncle is fighting a relationship with his assistant and a life-changing medical condition. There is also a relationship between Vaughn’s friend and his office manager. Finally, Vaughn’s antagonistic relationship with his parents and ex-wife take attention away from Annabelle and Vaughn.
Honestly, I was a fan of both main characters. Annabelle is a smart, successful, and sexy businesswoman who excels in her job. Vaughn is a dyslectic former athlete who has created a new business that will also benefit kids. Their attraction to each other is undeniable and they both enter into their relationship expecting it to be short-term and end up falling in love. If more of the book had been focused on them and their relationship without so many other plots, it would have been an excellent book. However, all the distractions from the main couple and unrealistic plot points did not do this book any favors. Overall, it was an okay read but it does not have me anticipating the next books, as much as I did like Annabelle’s sisters. Hopefully, Micki’s book will be better.