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Summer Heat
by Pamela Burford and Patricia Ryan
(Harl. Temp. #696, $3.75, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-25796-1
****
Summer Heat advertises itself as 2 in 1, which can be taken several ways. There are two separate stories, occurring during two summer months and written by two authors who just happen to be twins.

Pamela Burford's story is July. Phil Owen, in both stories, owns a dilapidated beach house on Cape Cod. His tenants for July are Molly Lamb, his ex-fiancée, who's renting the upstairs, and Quinn Marshall, an employee he's recently fired, who's staying in the downstairs apartment.

Quinn wants the beach house for a month to reassess his life and future now that he's jobless. He's leery of Molly, who stood his ex-boss up at the altar. Quinn knows that Phil can be vindictive. It's probably a good idea to steer clear of Molly. Silly man.

Molly knows Quinn's type; he's just like Phil, someone who wants to be in the fast lane and will seemingly do whatever it takes to get there and stay there. Quinn and Molly appear to be 180 degrees apart. I would think that we've all familiar with the old saying, "Opposites attract." Boy, do they – in a big, enjoyable, fun way.

Patricia Ryan's August introduces us to Sally Curran and Tom O'Hearn. Sally, Phil's cousin, is staying gratis at the beach house . . . until she realizes that Phil has plans for her, plans he's neglected to tell her. She is supposed to oversee Tom's work as he renovates and repairs the decrepit beach house. Tom will need Sally's approval for any purchases, a responsibility she considers a major pain.

Tom's future is riding on this job. Phil owns a major property that Tom wants to refurbish. How well he does on Phil's beach house will determine if he gets the new job, a job that will insure his professional future.

There's sexual lightening between these two, but Sally's not going to be swayed by a great bod. Growing up, she didn't have financial stability and has vowed to fall for a man with a steady future. She sees Tom as working from paycheck to paycheck. She'll agree to have a sexual relationship with him for the month they're together, but she wants no lasting ties.

As I've already mentioned, Phil is the common denominator. Our two sets of lovers have the misfortune to know Phil, who's a parody of the rich, selfish self-absorbed creep, the kind of guy you love to hate. He's so loathsome and uses his power and wealth so scornfully and with such haughtiness that it's really easy to dislike him.

Each man and woman has different values, different goals and different expectations. Phil may be in each story, spreading discontent and malice, but he's overshadowed by the redemptive, illuminating power of love.

There's only one off-key note for me in the whole book. This error had me going back and forth between pages 120 and 131. On page 120, we're told that Sally is twenty-six. A sentence on page 131 confused me. "Fifteen years ago, when Sally and Amber were both fourteen, they'd sat together . . . " I'll admit that I'm not a math wiz, but how did an editor miss this addition error? Sally is twenty-six on page 120 and twenty-nine on page 131.

Summer Heat is a great vacation book. There's just enough sun, sand and sex to make it an entertaining read. When you meet the two heroes, keep water handy – be it pool, lake or ocean water. Okay, a squirt bottle will do. You'll need to cool down from the heat in Summer Heat.

--Linda Mowery


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