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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hot Flash by Clare Austin

Hot Flash by Clare Austin
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (342 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Rosemary

Kate Aiello has spent her entire life trying to please others—her three brothers, her Italian mamma and her husband of twenty-five years. It isn’t insult enough she is turning fifty, and left at the side of life’s road by her philandering husband. Now she has to contend with her body’s betrayal…hot flashes!

The plain truth hits her with each thermostatic aberration—she has never been first in anyone’s life, including her own.

Brandon Sullivan has been on a downward spiral since the death of his beloved wife. Now he is a man desperate to save himself from impending financial ruin, loss of his farm and his life’s dream. He needs to get into the winner’s circle by spring or he’ll be just another poor, landless Irishmen downing his pints and bragging about the good ol’ days.

Sparks fly when Italian attitude meets Irish temper. Add two big crazy families, a barn full of horses and one woman’s menopausal hot flashes and the probability for combustion increases exponentially. What will Kate and Brandon risk for a second chance at love?

Hot flashes are the least of her worries when Katie Aiello finds herself falling in love with her irresistibly charming riding instructor, Brandon Sullivan. Katie’s faith in herself is deeply shaken when her husband of 25 years divorces her, and she constantly struggles to trust Brandon with her heart.

Sparks fly between Katie and Brandon from their very first meeting. Katie is fighting an uphill battle against the damage to her self-esteem brought on by her divorce. The biggest obstacle Katie must overcome is realizing that not all men are like her ex-husband, and that if she wants a happy future, she is going to have to take a blind leap of faith and trust Brandon. That is easier said than done, though.

Brandon is coming from the opposite end of the relationship spectrum. He had a long and happy marriage, and he truly misses being married. While he still loves and misses his dead wife, when he falls in love with Katie, he embraces the new relationship with an open heart. Brandon challenges Katie to accept his love and begin a new life together.

Ms. Austin has a delightful writing style, and she fully develops the primary and secondary characters in Hot Flash. I absolutely adore Brandon, and while he has his flaws, he is very realistic and lovable. On the other hand, it took me a while to warm up to Katie. Though the divorce was fairly recent, she was ready to move on when she began to fall for Brandon, and even though he proved again and again to be trustworthy, she constantly second-guessed his feelings and motivations. Most of the plot was sound, but there were a couple of events that transpired I felt were unbelievable. While Ms. Austin handled most plot twists with imagination, there were a couple of turns that were predictable and redundant. Ms. Austin provides both Katie and Brandon with strong family ties, and I found that to be the strongest and preeminent element of the book.

In Hot Flash, Clare Austin proves that love and romance can be found at any age. And that love, is indeed, sweeter the second time around.