Heat. Jamie K. Schmidt. 2014. 239 pages. Loveswept. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.]
When Mallory woke up from a drug-induced stupor that was forced upon her by an abusive fiancee, she went on the run. Two months later, she found herself in seeking refuge in her sister Colleen’s massive compound – part fashion school, part sex den. What Mallory thought would be a chance for her to hide out from a drug-addicted ex ends up turning into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for her to explore her own identity , motivations, and sexuality. In the process, she’s introduced to Max who doubles as an instructor and her bodyguard, much to her chagrin.
Heat is a very enjoyable read. While the story is a bit heavy between Mallory’s dilemma, Max’s strained relationship with his father, and Colleen’s constant worry about keeping her business legitimate, it is balanced out well by the setting of the story. “Couture” is a “resort that’s a perpetual fashion convention,” but also doubles as a spa where clients come to explore their sex lives more fully. Schmidt paints the various experiences of Mallory, Max, and other “Couture” staff and clients vividly. While they are graphic, they’re also presented in a context that is not trashy at all. Through the story, the reader is able to learn about the characters in depth where necessary.
Since this is the first in the “Club Inferno” series, I look forward to learning more about other characters who were peripheral in Heat. The only flaw I found in Heat is that I felt Mallory frustrating at times. It seems implausible that after having her ex-fiancee shove a LSD-laced Ecstasy pill into her mouth, she’d be so resistant to making him pay or ensuring he stays out of her life. There are multiple opportunities for her to either file formal charges or get a restraining order. That she didn’t shows a weakness on her part that seems counterproductive to the other progress she makes.