Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Book Tour: Turn up the Heat by Serena Bell


I'm thrilled to be hosting a tour stop for Serena Bell's Turn up the Heat! This is the first book in a new steamy contemporary romance series, Second Chances. If you like your sex scenes on the kinky side, this is a must-read! I've had great luck with Loveswept before, and I'm happy to say that this one does not disappoint. Stick around for my review!

For the rest of the stops on the tour, check out Tasty Book Tours.

The Book

For readers of Jill Shalvis and Susan Mallery, USA Today bestselling author Serena Bell teases all five senses in this poignant, tantalizing novel of fantasies long hidden . . . and finally indulged.

Aspiring chef Lily McKee noticed Kincaid Graves the first time he walked into the dingy diner where she waits tables. With his ice-blue eyes and primal tattoos, his presence puts Lily on edge—and reminds her of all the unfulfilled longings she isn’t pursuing while she’s stuck in this dead-end job. Without a doubt, the man is dangerous to her long-term plans of leaving town and hiring on at a real kitchen—and yet, she hungers for him, if even for just a taste.

Kincaid didn’t come back to his coastal Oregon hometown looking for a good time or a good meal. The ex-con has a score to settle, old wrongs to set right. But Lily, equal parts innocence and insight, brings out an impulsive side of him he thought he’d left behind in the past. And it only takes one intense moment of weakness between them to make him consider the possibility of an entirely new future—and the promise of passion beyond either of their wildest dreams.

Turn up the Heat is available now!


The other two waitresses had temporarily divvied up Lilys tables between them, but Gina hadnt come in yet, so Lily retook her tables. She made the rounds, getting back on track with her customers. She brought the redheaded family desserts, refilled water glasses, and took a few more orders. Then she grabbed the coffeepot and headed back to 9.

Getting near him felt like being drawn into some planets orbit.

His eyes scraped over her as she poured his coffee. “You cooked this.” He tilted his head at his now empty plate.

She nodded.

Best burger Ive had here. By a mile.”

Thanks.” She couldnt keep the pleasure off her face.

She waited for him to say something else, but he didnt, only kept those blue eyes on her. His gaze should have felt cool where it touched her face, but it felt hot instead, and it sent heat sloshing through her. She looked down. The book hed been reading was on the table. A textbook, with a stack of flags and a highlighter beside it. Abernathy’s Law in the United States.

She rearranged her notions of him around that. Maybe a cop, but a law student, too. Huh. “Light reading?”

He grinned.

“You done?” she asked.

“Ill take a slice of chocolate cake.”

She went back for the cake, cutting an extra-thick piece for him. God, the need to feed him was intense. And all mixed up with her other cravings.

Just because he’s big doesn’t mean he’s rough. Doesn’t mean he likes it rough. And it doesn’t matter, because that’s not what you’re here to do.

But the frustration and disappointment of failing at her chance in the kitchen got all wrapped up with her other feelings. The elation shed experienced when her ex-boyfriend, Fallon, had bound her—the ropes, the tape, the surge of power that powerlessness had given her. The way shed struggled, the way restraint had poured pleasure into her body.

How Fallon had turned away from it, in distaste and disgust.

How willing shed been to renounce her newfound self, her newfound joy, for what she thought was love. For the trappings that came with love—the apartment she shared with him, the mentoring hed given freely, the job he could offer her. How deep shed buried her real self so she could be what he needed her to be and so she could have the life he was offering her.

And most of all, the true shame and hurt—of losing it all, anyway, to lies.

All of that, that tight knot of emotion, needed an outlet. It wanted to work itself raw, shake itself off. It wanted to drown itself.

It wanted this man, rational or not. It wanted to unbury itself for him. She wanted to unbury herself for him.

Instead, she set the cake down before him.

“Did you get in trouble with the owner? Im sorry. I shouldnt have said anything. I just wanted him to know you did good.”

She wanted to shrug it off, but instead was horrified to discover that the tears shed pushed back were threatening to fall. “It was a rookie mistake,” she said, steadying her voice. “I should have known better. You never mess with the recipes. You dont question the chef. Ever.”

Shed known, but shed wanted too desperately to cook this man something hed love. Her desire to feed him would do her in. She knew it, now, already.

He was shaking his head, the muscles flowing in his thick—and yet somehow finely built—neck. The skin under his tattoo was as smooth as satin, and she realized she was fantasizing about licking it. Biting it.

He rubbed a thumb back and forth over the laminate table, as if cleaning up a spot of something that had spilled. “Rumor is he’s crazy. Should have retired years ago, but has some price in mind and wont settle for less, even though the place needs a ton of work. Meanwhile, he wont change anything from his dads day—not the recipes, the decor, nothing. Its not you, kiddo. Its him.”

The kiddo killed her. Slew her dead, right then. It should have felt demeaning, condescending, but it had the same effect on her the rest of him did. Made her want to be a small thing he tossed around, the way his sandpaper voice tossed off that word. Kiddo.

She needed to walk away from this craving, from this stranger who didn’t feel like a stranger. As if maybe all those locked gazes, the fact of his being there dependably week after week, had built a slow, strange, invisible trust.

She was here in Tierney Bay, love life ruined, career in suspended animation, self-regard shredded, having fled as far as she could from her mistakes, and she had vowed not to make them again. She had vowed not to let anything get between her and rebuilding her life. Because it wasnt, couldnt possibly be, worth it.

But in the end, there were two parts of her. There was the part that wanted to rebuild her life.

And there was the part that just wanted to live.

My Review

Sometimes I grab a book that's exactly what I need to read at the time. Turn up the Heat was one of those books. I needed something that was sexy, light, romantic, and ended on a fully positive and upbeat note. Turn up the Heat checked every one of those boxes. 

A contemporary romance that pairs an ex-con with an aspiring chef, I thought right from the start that Turn up the Heat had excellent chemistry between its romantic leads. There's something magnetic about Lily and Kincaid that drew me in.

Both of these characters have baggage from their pasts, of varying degrees. Lily's got an ex who put her through hell, while Kincaid, well, he's an ex-con, so you can imagine some of the story there. She's all shiny goodness and light, while Kincaid is brooding and dark. The contrasts are pretty obvious, but that didn't dampen my enthusiasm for the story at all.

What this book does *exceptionally well* is present kinky sex--in the form of rough, moderately dominant-submissive sex--in a way that seems completely realistic to me. This story bypasses the more formal dom-sub scenarios that have been so popular, instead depicting this type of sex in a way that I suspect is much more common in the real world. Lily and Kincaid share an interest in rough sex--and have been conditioned to sublimate that desire. So, when they find each other, and recognize the potential they have togethe, it's *smoking hot.*

One of the big themes in this book is trust, and I thought that was also handled--and emphasized--in really clever ways. It's such an important component of any relationship, and the ways in which Lily and Kincaid instinctively trust each other, but also have to learn to trust each other and themselves, make for fantastic reading.

I also really enjoyed the ex-con angle. It's not simply thrown in to add flavour and, potentially, make Kincaid sexier (he doesn't need to be sexier, for starters...). There's some thought-provoking comments about the life of ex-cons, and about doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. This created some depth in a book that could have simply a very sexy version of the same-old, same-old. 

Bottom line:

I absolutely recommend Turn up the Heat for fans of steamy contemporary romance. If you prefer a more genteel approach--fade-to-black, for example-- you will want to skip this one, which is really unfortunate because I thought it was awesome. I will absolutely come back for the second book in this series!

5 stars
For fans of contemporary romance, sexy romance, rough and/or kinky sex

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Serena Bell writes stories about how sex messes with your head, why smart people sometimes do stupid things, and how love can make it all better. She wrote her first steamy romance before she was old enough to understand what all the words meant and has been perfecting the art of hiding pages and screens from curious eyes ever since—a skill that’s particularly useful now that she’s the mother of two school-aged children.



  1. I love when a book just hits that spot. Most of my 5 reads are because I picked up a book at the right mood without planning it.

  2. Thank you so much for hosting TURN UP THE HEAT!