Slow Hands, by Leslie Kelly, is from the Harlequin Blaze line. Blaze started out as an occasional series for stories too hot for the Temptation line, and became its own line in 2001. The writing guidelines call for “an emphasis on the physical relationship developing between the couple: fully described love scenes along with a high level of fantasy, playfulness and eroticism are needed.” Toss in the requirements for a strong plot, integrated secondary characters, and a 60,000 word limit, and our characters need to get busy quickly.
So I know what I’m getting into with a Blaze, but I tried to approach it with an open mind. A classic mistaken identity meet brings our couple together with confused intentions, but they fall in lust so fast and so deep that when the truth is finally revealed, neither party thinks too much on it. Our heroine is very, very rich, has an office in her daddy’s bank, and a fabulous condo, but life is tough, as she’s been unlucky in love. Call me jealous, but we’ve all been unlucky in love, and most of us bear it without unlimited money. Against all odds, I’m always looking for strong female characters. I’ve nothing against a rich one, but it would be nicer is she got there through hard work. Nor does Madeline seem to have any interests or hobbies. In other words, a little flat, but her appearance alone is enough to entrance our hero.
As for Jake, he’s suitably heroic as a paramedic, has a great body, and is good in bed. All one needs in a man, apparently. He’s not wealthy, but kind to his siblings and generous enough to donate an unexpected windfall. His ideal date is wings, beer, and a baseball game, but underneath the blue collar demeanor is a well-mannered well-spoken gentleman who only takes advantage of a lady’s misunderstanding because she’s irresistibly attractive. That makes it okay. We never do find out why such a catch is alone and dateless in his late twenties.
As expected, the sex scenes are detailed, and as usual the first time together, halfway through the book, is unrealistically mind-blowing. After that, sex scenes alternate with various crises until a quick wrap-up. Kelly writes good dialogue, starts with a playful opening, and brings everything together competently, but by the end the story is just a little too earnest to be completely enjoyable.