Wednesday, April 20, 2016

2016 TBR CHALLENGE REVIEW: "Hot Stuff" by Carly Phillips

Hot Stuff (Hot Zone, #1)
(Hot Zone #1)

For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Contemporary Romance -- Sports

Harlequin -- August 2004
Ebook, 333 pages
Read in April 2016

Goodreads -- Author Website -- Publisher Website


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, ex-football legend and businessman Brandon Vaughn.

The chemistry is potent, undeniable, irresistible. But 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.

Sports, Animals, Secondary Romance

2016 TBR Challenge
2016 Pick Your Genre Reading Challenge
2016 New To Me Reading Challenge

I read this book for the 2016 TBR Challenge -- April -- Contemporary.  The challenge is hosted by Wendy the Super Librarian.

I originally bought Hot Stuff because I usually enjoy sports adjacent contemporary romances.  I have heard about Carly Phillips for awhile and thought this would be a good example of her work.  I actually bought this in 2012 and it just got lost on my e-reader.

The Hot Zone series focuses on the three Jordan sisters who were raised by their sports lawyer uncle after the death of their parents.  The ladies are now publicists for their uncle's company and have retained their close family relationship. Annabelle is the oldest of the girls and the one who is most cautious about keeping their family together.  Her latest client is a former football star who is having some issues at a lodge he is trying to open in his hometown.  One of Annabelle's biggest weaknesses is sexy jocks so she is preparing to keep her emotions in line while trying to help Brandon get his project off the ground.  Of course, they end up falling in love while battling some mysterious sabotage efforts and bad press associated with the lodge opening.

I wanted to like Hot Stuff much more than I did.  Both Annabelle and Brandon were likable characters and I was ready to root for them.  Unfortunately, I felt like was told about their various character traits rather than show them through their actions.  It felt very awkward while reading those sections.  They both have issues they are getting through such as Annabelle's fear of her family being split apart and Brandon's literacy issues which has caused friction between him and his academically inclined parents.  These are legitimately intriguing character problems that I think weren't properly developed or shown to readers.

The romance aspect was fine.  The protagonists were nice people and their love story matched their personalities.  There is a little tension over whether Annabelle can trust Brandon and whether Brandon can get over his shame about his reading issues.  But, these ultimately ended up not being big obstacles to their happiness.  One way that I could tell the main romance was not strong enough on its own was that there were three other subplots in this book (one romantic and one non-romantic).  I wish I could say that more page time would have helped Annabelle and Brandon's love story seem fully realized, but I'm not sure if that is the case.

This is the first book in the series so there was some time taken up to set-up the rest of books including the business and "persona" of each sister.  Like with the protagonist, I found the other sisters to be likable, but I wanted more development.  What motivated me to keep reading this book was the side romance between Uncle Yank and his long-suffering assistant, Lola.  I found myself much more invested in their story rather than the other subplots.  Lola and Yank's story was not resolved in Hot Stuff and it is clear that it will run throughout the rest of the series.

Hot Stuff was an okay read that was inoffensive, but felt both overwhelming and underdeveloped.  I am trying to figure out if I am motivated enough by my enjoyment of the Lola/Yank storyline to try the other books in the series.  If you have read the later books, I am open to hearing what you think.  Even though this wasn't as good as I was hoping it to be, I am happy that I finally gave it a chance and got it off my e-reader TBR list.


Hot Stuff (Hot Zone, #1) Hot Number (Hot Zone #2) Hot Item (Hot Zone, #3) Hot Property (Hot Zone, #4)


  1. I've been tempted to read Carly Phillips's contemporary work, but something always stops me. I'll read a review and it'll be meh and I'm turned off. Some day, something will stick.

  2. I've read this series (not for awhile) and they are all about equal to this one -- the Lola/Yank storyline is probably the best part. I did LOVE The Bachelor by Carly Phillips, probably my favorite of hers.

    1. I will have to check out The Bachelor then. Thanks!

  3. I confess that I'm not a sport person, which means that I'll try a sports romance only if I've read something else by the author, and liked that enough to get over my resistance to sports in my romance.

    Beyond that, being the shallow person I am, the covers of this series totally turn me off. For a while there, a lot of contemporary romances were getting this type of covers, and I just never warmed up to them.

  4. Great review, Jennifer. I have never read a Carly Phillips book, which is ridiculous because I've had The Bachelor and The Playboy in my print TBR for over 10 years. That's sad. I finally added them to my GoodReads so I remember I have them - they've got to be read this year or they need to go to a new home. I'm with you Azteclady on the covers. I never liked them either. I probably would ignore them in digital but in print, it's more difficult to ignore for me. Thanks for reminding me I have her books to read! LOL


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