Temperature’s Rising
by Karen Kelley
(Brava, $14.00, R) ISBN 0-7582-1170-8
***
I picked up Karen Kelley’s Temperature’s Rising hoping for a hot read. What I got was a lukewarm one.

Jessica Nelson grew up in a family of cops. Although she has a badge, too, she left her job as a cop for a career in real estate. When the book begins, Jessica is meeting a man to show him a house. Unfortunately, she has to stop to change a flat tire. By the time she arrives, she is sweaty, disheveled, and late. And that’s before she locks herself out of her car. At first, she thinks the man who was supposed to see the house has come and gone. Then a man stops her to ask, “How much?”

The man turns out to be Conor Richmond, a new cop in town who takes one look at Jessica’s appearance and thinks she is a prostitute. He arrests her for soliciting and takes her to the police station, never realizing that she is the police chief’s daughter.

After this confusion is sorted out, Jessica becomes involved in an undercover investigation into a series of thefts. She agrees to help for her father’s sake; the mayor has been threatening his job. Conor and Jessica end up posing as newlyweds who move in next door to one of the prime suspects.

Temperature’s Rising has a few humorous moments, including the opening chapters when Conor takes Jessica to the police station. Conor is so determined to prove himself to his new boss that he won’t listen when Jessica tries to explain. Unfortunately, later chapters aren’t as amusing.

A couple of things prevent this book from getting a solid recommendation. First, is the matchmaking family. Jessica’s father, the police chief, met Conor and decided that he is the man for her. To that end, he throws the two together in numerous situations. Once Jessica agrees to help with the undercover operation, her father has a heart-shaped bed delivered to the house. This was simply too much. Much of the humor in this book is along these lines. Some readers may things like this funny, but this reviewer isn’t one of them.

Then there is the conflict. Conor views Jessica’s decision to leave the force and become a real estate agent as evidence that she wasn’t a good cop and couldn’t handle it. This unfounded judgment colors his perception of Jessica for much of the book, and it doesn’t say much for his ability to interpret clues.

For Jessica’s part, she has lived with cops all her life and used to be a cop herself. This has led her to decide that she doesn’t want to be with a man who is a cop. It’s an understandable position, but it didn’t seem significant enough to be as big an obstacle as it ultimately was.

Conor and Jessica aren’t bad characters; they just aren’t especially memorable. In the end, Temperature’s Rising garners an average rating.

--Alyssa Hurzeler


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