Hot and Bothered was such an enjoyable read. I found myself completely absorbed in the story, and feeling incredibly invested in what happened to all of the characters — that’s a feat!
Jules and Tad are hopelessly in love with each other, but refuse to admit it. Instead, they’re best friends whose lives are so intertwined that they’re almost family. While Jules struggles to regain her independence while adjusting to motherhood, Tad focuses on opening a wine bar. Both feel the need to defy what they think their families view as failures, but sometimes undermine themselves with poor self-confidence.
The linchpin in this story is that Jules finally decides to begin dating. When every male in her life runs interference, Tad tries to give her space. When Jules’ son’s previously anonymous father shows up wanting to be a father, she’s forced to reassess the needs of herself and her family.
Meader did a solid job of developing these characters. Although this is book three, there is sufficient background on everyone. It stands up well as a stand-alone book, though I would likely enjoy the added context from the first two in this series. The background and personal contemplation from Jules and Tad is honest and believable. They’re flawed humans, and Meader depicts that well without making them seem helpless.
The plot was also well-presented. The characters all brought different pieces to the story, so there is a great balance of humor, romance, and drama rolled into this story. There’s also a lot of food and wine involved, which can never be a bad thing.
Note: Hot & Bothered is a sequel to All Fired Up.