Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hotter Than Ever by Elle Kennedy

Why I read it:  I have been eagerly awaiting Dylan's book since the straight boy BJ scene in Feeling Hot (which was my introduction to the series) so I bought this one on release day.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  When you land in hot water, swim for safety—or let the fire burn. 

An Out of Uniform Story

Claire McKinley has just experienced every bride’s nightmare. The groom is a no-show, and now she must face five hundred guests alone. Furious and humiliated, Claire seeks help from the most unlikely candidate—her almost-brother-in-law, who promptly whisks her away to his apartment in San Diego, where she can recover her pride in peace and quiet.

Dylan Wade is no fan of Claire’s, but no way can he leave the jilted bride in her time of need. Bringing her home seems like a good idea—until he remembers his new roommate. Dylan’s relationship with Aidan is…complicated. And with Claire thrown into the mix, life becomes even more…complicated.

Claire is blindsided by her attraction not only to Dylan, but also to Aidan, a man she’s just met. Soon they’re caught up in an all-consuming sexual storm they can’t fight even if they wanted to. Yet Claire wonders if it can last, or if she’s just setting herself up for more heartache.

What worked for me (and what didn't): I enjoyed this story and it certainly lived up to its title (oh mama! *fans self*), but the ending came too abruptly for me and there were some things glossed over or not mentioned which meant that the book didn't end quite as well as it started. Still, I was a lot of fun and overall, another great addition to the series.

Both Dylan and Aidan are bisexual.  I'm not sure how realistic a depiction of bisexuals it is to suggest that they cannot be content with just one person. Both Aidan and Dylan feel that way - they care deeply about each other and are wildly sexually attracted to each other but they can't "go a week without a woman".   However, in this book, it works because, it makes the addition of Claire to the relationship feel like it is what stabilises everything - like a stool with a wonky leg maybe. (In menage type relationships I always wonder if one of the trio will feel left out or threatened - here, it was not a consideration.) I have come to accept that most of the menage type stories I read are not terribly grounded in reality.  While I enjoyed this aspect of the story, for the record, I don't think if one is a bisexual that one necessarily has to feel he/she is always missing out, no matter the gender of their partner and I don't think that all bisexuals are cheating cheatypants'.

There isn't any jealousy between the three of them and they seem to get along universally well once they are together.
There was a flash of movement in Dylan’s peripheral vision. When he looked over, he saw that Claire was gripping Aidan’s hand and stroking his knuckles.
Dylan locked gazes with his roommate, unsure of what to say to the confession. “You never told me that before,” was what came out.
Aidan shrugged. “I’ve never told anyone.”
And yet he’d opened up to Claire.
The jealousy or resentment Dylan expected to feel did not come. Instead, he was overcome by a strange rush of gratitude. He didn’t know why Aidan felt comfortable enough around Claire to share such a private snippet of information, but the revelation offered the insight Dylan had been seeking for months.
Dylan and Claire are each labouring under misapprehensions about the other and have a consequent dislike of each other - but once this is sorted out (by the expedient of Aidan locking them in a room together until they sorted it out), they all get along well.  Dylan and Claire bicker a little but it is all in fun and never serious.  I was left wondering what would happen when/if a more serious issue arose and I would have liked to have seen how they negotiated such things.  Also, near the end, Aidan mentions that Dylan is likely to be deployed for six months sometime fairly soon and I wondered, nothwithstanding how balanced they felt together, what strain this might put on their relationship and whether Dylan might feel the "odd man out" when he gets home.

There is a  side plot involving Aidan and his family which I thought was more serious than the page time it was given, but I did appreciate that there were consequences of the menage relationship that all three had to deal with (even though, sadly, it was Claire who had the most to lose in the situation and who was the more judged of the three - at least, it seemed so to me).  Other menage relationships I have read have glossed over this aspect altogether, so I was happy to see it given depth here.

While the other couples and SEALS in the series are mentioned, their appearance felt organic to the plot and not at all unwelcome.  Some of the funniest bits of the book are the bantering between the various SEALS - Seth in particular, tickled my funny bone
“So that leaves the D-Man. You coming or what, bro? Oh, and Miranda says Aidan’s welcome too.”
Dylan raised his eyebrows. “The D-Man?”
“New nickname I’m trying out.” Seth paused. “Is it not working?”
“No,” everyone answered in unison.
I didn't even get to the next page before he was making me laugh again.
 “Well, she got rip-roaring drunk last night, so…” Dylan let the others reach their own conclusions.
“And you and Aidan didn’t take advantage of that and—cover your ears, Shelby—double-team her? Prudes.” Seth shook his head in mock disgust.
“Why do you bother telling me to cover my ears?” Shelby demanded. “You don’t even give me time to do it! And besides, since when do you care about offending my delicate sensibilities?”
“I live with kids now,” the scruffy-haired SEAL replied. “I’m pretty sure I ask Sophie and Jason to cover their ears at least twenty times a day.”
Dylan's brother Chris is a super douchecanoe but he never seemed to pay for his sins, which was vaguely disappointing.

The sex scenes were super hot and each pair in the trio had their own sexytimes together as well as group activities - although the parties didn't explicitly negotiate anything, they didn't have any difficulties in two of them getting down to business if one partner was absent.

I did like that (very much) that Dylan wasn't ashamed of his bisexuality (Aidan too) - that his reluctance to tell his SEAL team mates about their relationship was more about him having difficulty placing a label on it - if he couldn't explain it to himself he felt unable to explain to others.  And that made sense.  As soon as things were sorted out, Dylan started coming out to his friends and, it was also nice to see their acceptance of him too - which made sense in their circle of friends, which, let's face it, is threesome-city.

What else? It was a hot and fun read.  I liked the dynamic between Dylan, Aidan and Claire and I enjoyed the humour and the pacing, which faltered a little at the end for me.  The mutual "I love you" sharing seemed a little... rote or something - the first couple of declarations felt organic but the last were more "finishing things off" and they jarred me just a little.  I would have appreciated a little more explicit negotiation on how their relationship was going to work and I would love to see what difference Dylan's deployment makes to their triad.  It seems unlikely they would get another book to themselves, but perhaps as a secondary plot in Texas' book?  *pretty please*

Grade: B



Lori said...

I would have loved this to be a straight m/m. It worked well as is, but I was so invested in Dylan & Aiden as a couple at the end of the last one that I was sad they weren't just a couple. Still, I thought she did a great job with the triad.

Kaetrin said...

@Lori I would have been just as happy with an m/m story but I thought that the menage had been foreshadowed so much in the previous book I wasn't really expecting it. I do love Aidan and Dylan together. :)