I read Keeping it Hot with the expectation that I would get a friends-to-lovers romance set somewhere warm and beachy. Instead what I got was a whole lot of “what the fuck did I just read?”
Here’s what you need to know: Zoe Hart runs a coffee shop inside the Oceanix resort in Florida. The resort is owned and run by her best friend (and secret crush) Dylan Jackson. Zoe has just turned twenty-nine and is still a virgin. She’d like to lose her virginity by thirty, preferably to Dylan, but realizes that he sees her as “one of the guys.”
So Zoe and her best friend Dana hatch a plan to get Dylan to see Zoe as a potential romantic partner.
All sounds good so far, right?
That’s what I thought, too.
I was wrong.
First of all, once Zoe changes out of the coffee-stained polos and khaki shorts she wears to work and into a dress, Dylan suddenly realizes he wants to put his penis in her. Because apparently polo shirts are actually cloaks of invisibility. But despite being irksome that part wasn’t even that bad. No. We get so much worse.
Like, I didn’t even know which among the awful quotes to share, worse.
Here’s Dylan talking to his brother about how suddenly his penis has noticed Zoe:
“I mean, I didn’t know it was possible for her to look like that. There’s a woman’s body under that usual coffee shop uniform she wears.”
Asher laughed hysterically before he finally got it together enough to say, “You both work at a hotel right on the beach. Don’t tell me you’ve never seen her in a swimsuit before. This shouldn’t have been a total shock to you.”
“Well, of course I have, but it was some kind of one-piece number with a skirt on it.”
He could almost hear Ash wincing as he said, “Fuck, I hate those things. I don’t care what size a woman is, she should just own it. Don’t go out there wearing a damn sheet tied around your waist. If you have a big butt, put that sucker out there. Lots of men like some extra junk in the trunk. What they don’t like is seeing you wear your gown on the beach. You should have staged an intervention with her long ago. Friends don’t let friends dress like that.”
WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST READ?
First of all the assumption that women dress for men, or give a shit about what men think of how they dress, is some sexist bullshit. You wanna wear a sheet on the beach? Go for it. Wanna wear a giant parrot costume? Make sure you drink some water cuz it’s gonna be hot in that thing.
We don’t have to “own it” for anyone. I don’t give a flying fuck if some men like “junk in the trunk.” I am not buying a swimsuit so I can be viewed through their boner-lens. I’m buying it because I like it.
So fuck BOTH of these guys.
Then we get:
Wow, it was official, her old wardrobe was a man repellant. No wonder she’d easily been able to remain a virgin until the ripe old age of twenty-nine. She couldn’t help thinking that the new padded bra was a big help as well. Wait, was that false advertising? Some poor guy thought you had big boobs, then discovered under that miracle bra, you were a tad on the small side?
SOME POOR GUY THOUGHT YOU HAD BIG BOOBS.
Yes, yes, let us pity the man who was “misled” by your bra choice, Zoe, because once again women dress only for a man’s sexual gratification.
WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST READ?
But wait, we’re not done. Dylan and Zoe are at lunch, discussing Dylan’s meeting with a potential investor:
“Handsy Holder?” Zoe started laughing, remembering the fifty-something-year-old cougar that never missed an opportunity to hit on Dylan. She had hair like Dolly Parton and a body that seemed at odds with her age. Zoe was certain there had been some surgical enhancements there. And those fingernails? They were so long that she had no idea how the woman was able to function with them from day to day.
“I’m glad you found it so amusing,” he smirked, “because she’s supposed to be here at seven.”
Making a walking motion with her hands, Zoe said, “Well you better run along and get prepared. Don’t forget protection. Wait, she might be in menopause, so that could be an added bonus, right?”
I repeat: WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK DID I JUST READ?
So… sexually aggressive women are to be mocked, but women should dress to attract a man and then hope for the best?
Menopause with all the vaginal dryness and hot flashes is hilarious?
Women over the age of fifty should not expect sex and should be made fun of?
You know what, these two fucking belong together.
But that wasn’t even the worst part. This is the worst part. The worst part was when Zoe and her friend Dana show up at Dylan’s place, completely shitfaced.
When [Zoe] stopped mid-sentence, he looked down just as a soft snore sounded from her mouth. Don’t think about how adorable she looks in your arms, she’s your best friend–that’s all.
He was jerked from his musings as someone banged on the door. No doubt it was Paul [Dana’s boyfriend who was called to pick her up] who couldn’t be bothered to use the buzzer.
“That’s my baby.” Dana ran through the apartment. Dylan was pretty sure that she’d nodded off to sleep as well since she hadn’t been in his face in at least two minutes. He thought of warning her to check the peephole first, then decided that he didn’t really care as long as whoever was on the other side took her with them. But a few seconds later, he could tell it was Paul by the amount of groping and tonsil sucking going on the hallway.
Let’s just repeat this: THEN DECIDED THAT HE DIDN’T REALLY CARE AS LONG AS WHOEVER IT WAS TOOK HER WITH THEM.
This woman is very drunk. Falling asleep drunk. The responsible, HUMAN thing to do would be to ensure that she’s safe. That means making sure it is indeed her boyfriend picking her up.
For all Dylan knows it could be a lost pizza guy behind the door. It could serial killer behind that door. It could be a werewolf. It could be four French bulldogs in a trench coat. BUT IT DOESN’T MATTER THAT DANA COULD BE PLACED IN A POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS SITUATION BECAUSE SHE ANNOYS HIM.
WHAT. THE. EVERLOVING. FUCK.
So there’s some romance in this book. There are sexy times. And I didn’t care at all about any of it because the main characters were such garbage people.
Unless you need to raise your blood-pressure through the roof, I strongly suggest staying away from Keeping it Hot.
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