Overall Grade: 4.5 ⭐️
I’m certain that Ella Frank is one big ole tease. If her newest book, Wicked Heat, is any indication. What do you get when you write two very different men, craft off-the-page chemistry, and then decide to complicate their lives with one hero who cannot seem to move beyond his past? A story that is difficult to put down. And that was definitely my experience with Wicked Heat, the first book of her Chicago Heat series.
Wicked Heat is part of a duet or duology, as some people call it. It’s the foreplay to a bigger story that’s to come. It features Jameson and Ryan who I’m sure people have met in other Frank romances, given the number of times former character names are dropped all over this book. Ryan is the personal assistant for Alexander Thorne, an Anderson-Cooper-inspired character. He grew up in a middle-class family with middle-class family problems. He’s buttoned up and GQ, as Jameson calls him. Jameson is the guy from the other side of town, the South Side in Chicago to be exact. They meet one night in a bar in that area where it’s clear that Ryan is out of place. Jameson acts as his boyfriend to save him from an overly affectionate bar patron. Ryan is instantly smitten with Jameson. While Jameson is attracted to Ryan, he leaves him because he knows the two aren’t suited for each other. Unfortunately, fate steps in again when Ryan is tasked with visiting a local firehouse for footage for his news correspondent boss. There, he runs into Jameson, who happens to be a local firefighter at that station. Their attraction is undeniable, and eventually, these two accept their attraction. Everything seems fine for them at first, but Jameson’s past continues to muddy their relationship. By the end of this book, be prepared for Ella Frank to leave you hanging about their status.
From their start, Jameson and Ryan are fraught, and it isn’t Ryan’s issue. In fact, the only way to potentially ruin this duet is by causing Ryan to be a doormat to Jameson’s insecurities. Thankfully, Frank is careful about this at the end of the book, showing a strength of character in Ryan that is refreshing. Ryan is caring, compassionate, and turns a blind eye to Jameson’s past. Jameson, however, is the one with emotional walls erected high. I predict the best part of the next book will be Jameson’s journey as he begins to accept that he and Ryan can have different pasts and still love each other. However, we aren’t there yet, and don’t be surprised if you leave Wicked Heat wishing for a different love interest for Ryan. Quite frankly, Ryan seems too good for Jameson. Yet, Jameson needs Ryan. Frank uses Ryan to humanize Jameson, granting him feelings that he cannot allow himself to feel. I’m excited about the next book in the series because Wicked Heat lit the pilot light, but it’s ready for a three-alarm blaze.
In love and romance,