by Anne Calhoun
Published by Harlequin on May 12, 2015
Sub-Genre/Theme: Contemporary, New Adult
Format: ARC, Ebook
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I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley.
For now, Milla Jackson is an American in London, but she's also been an American in Paris, Rome, Prague and more. She's working hard to combine her love of travel and growing social media presence into a career, even involving her followers in her (somewhat dismal) dating life. When the combustible heat between her and her best bloke, Charlie, explodes, she's unprepared for the secrecy of "friends with benefits."
Charlie's an artist who's already been burned by one woman who used social media against him. He's determined to keep his hands on the glass he works with—and off the irresistible Milla, who's sure to share every detail with her followers.
Will their best intentions survive a secret relationship? Or will the heat transform their fling into something that can overcome Milla's fear of permanency and Charlie's reluctance to trust again?
I had trouble with this book for a few reasons. First, while I’m a huge fan of Anne Calhoun’s work, this book is a departure from her normal material. Working with Heat feels like a New Adult novel, which is not one of my favorite genres or what Calhoun normally writes. Also, since this is a Cosmo Red-Hot Read, I went into the story expecting it to be more lighthearted and not so angsty, but there are definite moments of drama in this one. However, all that being said, it’s really well-written, which is why I’m giving it three stars.
Milla is an American who lives in London. She works in an art gallery but her real passion is her social media presence. She writes a travel blog and is constantly updating her various accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube). And when I say she’s constantly updating them, I mean she is posting things ALL the time. Because of this, I really struggled to like Milla. She’s not a bad character, but her obsession with social media drove me nuts. I’ll admit, I’m pretty addicted to my phone too and always have it close by, but Milla can hardly set aside her phone for five minutes at a time. It’s pretty sad. She’s so focused on building her “brand” through constant selfies and tweets that I’m kind of surprised her friends put up with her.
One of those friends, Charlie, is a painter turned glass artist and vehement Luddite. Eventually, Milla learns the reason for his anti-technology stance: he was burned by his ex via social media, which hurt him not only personally, but also professionally. So, it was really curious to me that Charlie would even consider getting involved with Milla, given how deeply she’s immersed in her online persona.
Milla meant well, but he felt more than he wanted to feel, which meant they were banging into each other like shins against furniture, hurting each other.
Granted, Milla and Charlie’s relationship starts out pretty casual and they agree to keep it a secret from their group of friends. But it’s still really odd to me that Charlie would want to get involved with her, even on a casual level. Since they’re already friends, the chemistry between them is built in from the beginning of the story, but I don’t know that it feels entirely believable. Maybe if the story had been longer and their relationship had been more developed, I would have believed it more easily.
Lastly, the ending feels a little rushed and wraps itself up pretty easily. After Charlie’s earlier hesitation, I think it should have taken him longer to adjust to Milla’s public persona.
I didn’t care much for Milla and Charlie as characters, but I enjoyed the narrative itself, if that makes sense. There’s a level of sophistication and beauty to Calhoun’s writing style that sets it apart in my mind. So, despite the fact that I didn’t love this book, I always love Calhoun’s unique voice and that’s the best part of this book for me.
Rating: 3 stars