Wicked Burn

Beth Kery
2012 reissue of 2008 release, Erotic Romance
Berkley, $15.00, 352 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425224376

Grade: C+
Sensuality: Burning

It is difficult to find an erotic romance that is able to combine more substantial issues with the development of an actual “romance” as opposed to just a “sexual relationship with token HEA.” I’m pleased to say that this 2008 re-release is the exception to this rule, though I found other aspects of the novel troubling.

Niall Chandler is a successful single woman living in Chicago. She seems to have it all with a good job, a condo in the process of construction, and an active social life. But in truth a horrible tragedy has forced her to rebuild her life to try to move on from the pain and sadness of losing her only child. Though difficult, she is moving forward with her life.

While her condo is being built she is leasing an apartment in the same building as famed playwright Vic Savian. Vic overhears an altercation in the hallway of their apartment building between Niall and a date who is having difficulty accepting “no” for an answer. Alpha male that he is, he comes to Niall’s rescue and persuades the aggressor to leave. Grateful for his help, Niall accompanies him back to his apartment where the sparks begin to fly between them. They form a tentative relationship, but characters and occurrences from Niall’s past emerge to shake the foundation on which their fragile new relationship is built.

Niall and Vic have superb chemistry. Their love scenes are sizzling hot and they forge an emotional connection that takes hot sex and makes it even hotter. For the most part their relationship evolves in a mature manner with mutual respect. Niall is a sympathetic heroine who possesses quiet strength, which contrasts with and complements Vic’s hot-tempered artistic moodiness.

Where the story stumbles in my opinion is with the emergence of Niall’s history and Vic’s inability to have a rational conversation with her regarding this. He does not just leap to conclusions, he goes completely overboard and morphs into an arrogant ass. Once he learns the truth there is groveling, but I felt like it was too little too late from him. This did not ruin the story for me, but it did significantly impact my enjoyment.

The writing is alternately good and cheesy. The love scenes are hot and the descriptions of the character’s emotions are vivid. But then there are the repetitive phrases that absolutely drove this reader bonkers, such as Vic’s use of the endearment “baby.” It happened so often that I began to laugh and then wonder if I was actually reading a parody. And Niall goes “wide-eyed” so often that I started to picture her as one of those greeting card cats.

Priggish behavior by Vic and annoying phrases aside, the romance here is fairly solid. This couple faces obstacles on the way to their happily ever after and are able to resolve their conflicts in a believable manner. If Vic had not completely overreacted and been so horrid to Niall, I would be able to offer a more enthusiastic recommendation. As it stands, my feelings toward Wicked Burn are only lukewarm.

-- Heather Stanton

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