Fatal Heat: A SEAL Novella

Fatal HeatBy Lisa Marie Rice

Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: October 4, 2011
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Source: Purchased

Former Navy SEAL Max Wright is out of the SEAL Teams forever after being almost killed by an Afghani RPG. He retreats to his former XO’s beach house to lick his wounds. He wants to snarl at the world but finds it hard to snarl at his new neighbor, his XO’s beautiful goddaughter, Paige Waring, who also comes with a ridiculously likable, totally undisciplined dog.

As a plant geneticist, Paige has always been focused on her work, but when she and her dog run into Max, she recognizes the lonely, shattered man behind the rugged exterior. To her mind, sexiness always comes with a white lab coat, not with acres of tanned muscle and a tough mind-set.

When Paige’s work becomes the target of criminals and she’s abducted, Max springs into action. Though still terribly wounded, this tough as nails SEAL goes on his last mission—stopping at nothing to save the woman he loves.

Goodreads Summary

A devastating RPG attack put Max Wright in the hospital for over a year and removed him from service to his country as a Navy SEAL. Bitter about being forced to leave the career he loved behind and angry at his useless body, he’s gone to a former XO’s house to continue his physical recovery and hopefully find a little mental peace. He didn’t count on a neighbor, especially one who secretly slides a plate of cookies to him one day and captivates him on the beach along with her crazy dog the next.

His body, which had been on vacation for more than a year, comes to life very suddenly at the sight of the gorgeous Paige Waring, who’s equally bowled over by Max. Something about him screams strength in spite of his obviously horrible injuries and she trusts him immediately. When she gets word from a colleague at the bio research company that she works for that something explosive is being covered up at one of their projects in Argentina, her first instinct is to reach out to Max – and when Max finds out something’s happened to Paige, his first instinct is to go after his woman.

Some authors just can’t be judged on the same scale as others. They’ve almost created a genre unto themselves, a style that transcends all others and when you pick up their books it’s with almost an understanding that it’s just not going to be like anything else. You set aside the expectations you might have for another book in the same genre and you dive in. Lora Leigh’s Breeds series is one (you ignore the obvious editing issues lately). Susan Elizabeth Phillips and yes, I’m going to invoke that name…Laurell K. Hamilton, are authors like that. Lisa Marie Rice’s books tend to be about big, strong, insanely alpha military guys and gorgeous, slightly nerdy and introverted women in jeopardy. But that’s only the start of it.

A big chunk of the beginning of the book is Max really getting mad about the limitations of his body and telling us about it in great detail. This is important for later on, as well as a good illustration of the great military detail Rice puts into her books. Max is pissed at everyone. Until the cookies – with a plateful of warm, white chocolate chip cookies, Max begins to turn to goo. There you go, ladies. The secret to grabbing some gorgeous man-meat – walk around with a plate of hot cookies, handing them out!

Max is angry, his injured leg all but useless until he sees Paige and her dog Max (yep, Max) on the beach and things suddenly come to life (eyebrow waggle). Suddenly he’s locked onto his target – he’ll baby-sit her dog, he wants dinner, he’s up to and wants sex. Max has his groove back.

If you’ve read Rice books before, Paige is somewhere in the middle on the sliding scale of interesting heroines, but I give her a big pass because this is a novella and there isn’t much room to work. She’s gorgeous of course but it’s fun that she has a job as a plant geneticist. This is another little hallmark of Rice’s books – her heroines almost always have really interesting, varied careers and she researches the heck out of them to get the tiny details right, I assume. Anyway, Paige is smart enough to be just a tad nerdy, a little bit lonely and she is, of course, a lot spunky. She does the usual silly things when she gets in trouble.

Remember those horrible, devastating injuries Max was going on and on about in the beginning of the book? Well, I won’t go into exactly what happens because that would venture into spoiler-land, but let’s just say they don’t disappear entirely when Max needs them to but Superman might start penciling an ad.

This has far, far less sex in it than usual Rice books which are sort of raunchy. She also writes romantic suspense as Elizabeth Jennings and those focus more on plot and action. This is something in between. There’s a lot of action, a bit of focus on the building relationship and a bit of the kind of sex scene you’d expect.

I can’t end without talking about the dog. Paige has a dog that she rescued from the pound that is a little…exceptional. Now I have a cat that does a lot of what Max does, so I’m not going to judge some of it. But there are some scenes at the end where he turns into some sort of Robin to Max’s Batman that it just got a little crazy. Still within the realms of Rice-crazy, but you sort of have to know that it’s coming.

My Summary: I love that Rice was able to do a novella but this story may have been a little too ambitious for her style. There wasn’t enough room for Max to recover his strength and even by my usual LMR standards, it was a little off the charts. I did like the romance between Max and Paige though. I was surprised that in a short-length feature that they didn’t just get stuck in bed. They had a nice little romantic build-up first, even if it was short time-wise.

My Rating: On the Lisa Marie Rice wild and crazy scale of a novella about over-the-top alpha males doing over-the-top physical things with a ridiculously gorgeous woman, this is a B-

My Rating: On the normal scale of a novella about a recuperating SEAL romancing a neighbor who gets in trouble, this is a C-


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