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cover36173-mediumIF YOU CAN’T STAND THE HEAT . . .

Photographer Lili DeLuca spends all her time working at her family’s Italian restaurant, instead of following her dream of getting an MFA. When famous British chef Jack Kilroy unexpectedly challenges her father to a cook-off, Lili decides she’s tired of playing it safe and vows to seduce the tempting Brit. But once a video of her and Jack kissing goes viral and her luscious (if voluptuous) butt starts trending on Twitter, Lili fears she’s cooked up a recipe for disaster . . .

Jack Kilroy’s celebrity has left him feeling used and used up. While Lili’s oh-so-sexy moans when she tastes his delicious creations turn him on, he’s even more aroused by how this beautiful, funny woman is unimpressed by his fame. He knows they could be amazing together, if she could only see past his rabid, bitch-fork-wielding fan base. Now as he’s about to start a new prime time TV cooking show, can Jack convince Lili to realize her own ambitions-and turn up the heat in his kitchen?

There is so much going on with this story – Jack’s unhappiness with his life path and his disconnect with his sister, Lili’s insecurities over her weight and her shifting family dynamic, plus a whole slew of other DeLuca’s thrown in for fun. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, but it also has a deeper emotional complexity. Everyone has fears and Meader does a wonderful job bringing those to the surface and doesn’t pull any punches.

I loved Jack – his passion and strength, the fact that he whole-heartedly accepts Lili and wants to support her at every turn. He’s smart, funny, sexy and so very very HOT. Lili has a lot of baggage leftover from growing up fat and now there is tension in the family because her mother just recently beat cancer. Not only did Lili put her dreams on hold to help out with the restaurant, but it also put a strain her relationship with her father and her sister. She’s so unsure of herself when it comes to taking a chance, whether it is on her photography or with Jack, and it makes her very relatable.

Like a good Italian family, there are tons of people around, all of them were interesting and hilarious.  Plus Jack brings along a couple of his own. The interactions between the different characters – at times cheeky and other times poignant – absolutely sparkled. It wasn’t just Lili and Jack, although I smiled every time they got together because I knew they’d say something to make me laugh. Everyone was witty and funny but still true-to-life and by the time I was done, I felt like I knew these people and could call them friends.

With Feel the Heat, Meader shows her talent, with a wonderfully engaging writing style and captivating characters, and I’m looking forward to many more books to come.