Deadly Heat by Cynthia Eden

Audiobook narrated by Justine Eyre

As someone who came to romance through romantic suspense, I’m predisposed to love a firefighter and an FBI agent on the trail of a murdering arsonist. Sadly, my niggles with Deadly Heat started (very!) early and rapidly grew into festering pustules of disbelief and dread that it was going to get worse. It did.

Charlottesville, Virginia firefighter Lora Spade, cavalierly disregarding pesky chain of command, takes it upon herself to call in the FBI because she alone is convinced that a serial arsonist is preying on her town. The FBI, inexplicably, responds with blinding speed (as if POTUS had called), sending in top brass and crack special agent Kenton Lake and team to save the day. Lora and Kent are seized with instant lust, indulging in erotic fantasies at the most amazingly inappropriate moments; for example they’re thinking the sex thoughts while trapped in a burning building and again (my favorite part) over a crispy corpse on the autopsy table. Nothing stops these two bunnies from their mental lusting. Problem is that it was jarring — not organic at all — and I could not stop my eyes from trying to roll out the top of my head. Within hours of their first meeting they lay it all out in a conversation that goes something like this: ‘You’re hot and I want to fuck you.’ That pretty much set the tone for the romance part of the program.

Very early in the story a smarmy, defensive, unattractive character is introduced. Since there were no other viable candidates for villain, I correctly deduced that he was it. That pretty much set the tone for the mystery part of the program.

I wish I could say that narrator Justine Eyre improved on an unpalatable story, but no such luck. She rasps and whispers in a melodramatic style that sounds actress-y and overwrought to my ear. The plot and characters were silly enough and Eyre’s overemoting made it even sillier.
I’m afraid I need a lot more realism in my mysteries and thrillers than I found here. These characters behaved in ways that define bumbling unprofessionalism and I couldn’t buy into it — not even one little bit.
Not a total fail, but really close. But you know what? I didn’t enjoy it at all. QUARTER MOON.
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