Canít Stand The Heat
by Louisa Edwards
(St. Martinís Press, $6.99, R) ISBN 978-0-312-35649-1
Have you ever read a book that is so engrossing that you miss getting off the bus, skip dinner and stay up late in the night just to find out what happens?† If itís been awhile since you read such a magnetic story, Canít Stand The Heat will end your reading rut.† Miranda Wake is a food critic for Delicieux magazine, who loves to verbally spear any successful, egotistical chef who has gotten too big for his britches.†She skewers the reputations of celebrity chefs whose restaurants have resorted to crappy service and bad food after attaining popularity.†Itís the perfect job for this successful, smart redhead who maintains a cool, donít-touch-me faÁade that suits her purposes perfectly - she doesnít want to get too close to anyone.† Miranda carries the bitterness of her parentsí death like a shield: at 18 she had to grow up overnight, working several jobs and making frozen pizzas to keep herself and her younger brother Jess alive and together.†The memories of those tough times are still too close to the surface, and Mirandaís in self-protection mode, for sure.

Miranda temporarily loses her cool at a media party to celebrate the opening of Market Restaurant, chef Adam Templeís baby.†She drinks a few too many cocktails and finds herself in the midst of a bet to spend a month in Marketís kitchen, doing research.

† Adam is a passionately inspired chef with dreams of making Market the next big thing in town.† Heís employed a crew of old co-workers and friends, a colorful, fun group that make coming to work an awesome experience.†Adamís zealously devoted to food and cooking, and he canít imagine a more perfect time in his life than right now; the restaurantís about to open, and he has the best staff he can imagine to back him up.

Adam doesnít realize that Mirandaís been offered a book deal with a sleazy publishing company to write a tabloid style tell-all about him and the staff at Market. Miranda never expects to crave Adamís passion and enthusiasm for the restaurant to be turned in her direction but when Adam finds out that Miranda canít cook, he decides to give her private lessons, and when theyíre alone, it definitely gets too hot to handle.

Miranda soon finds her composure slipping. She wants to get closer to Adam, but how can she forget that making a living includes destroying his reputation, his restaurant, and his dream?

Canít Stand the Heat is a rare, wonderful story that shuts the readerís real life away for a few hours while living in the Market kitchen with Adam and Miranda. Miranda is the perfect blend of career woman, fragile girl with emotional baggage, overprotective big sister, and sensually aware woman all wrapped up in one dynamite package.† Sheís entirely believable and there must be at least one part of Miranda that every woman can empathize with.† Her sharp tongue and strongly voiced opinions almost always land her in trouble, as she doesnít try to soften her tone or mince words - ever.† Who doesnít love a strong-minded heroine?

Adam is completely irresistible - a big bundle of handsome, passionate, inventive, loving strength that is as magnetic as it is compelling. Is he perfect? No, he does keep a pretty major secret from Miranda, and heís got a bad temper. Thank goodness for those faults, otherwise every woman on the planet would be in love with Adam.† Heís a great hero, and I appreciate his emotional maturity and his open communication style.

Thereís also a great secondary storyline about Mirandaís brother, Jess, that deserves an honorable mention. Jessís struggle to be recognized as a grownup by Miranda while he tries to figure his way through perilous feelings of his first real attraction and relationship is written in a heartfelt, mature, beautiful way.†

Make sure that you have a good lazy day to spend with Canít Stand The Heat, and donít start reading this one in the evening, or I guarantee you will be up all night!† †

--Amy Wroblewsky

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