One of my favorite sports series is Carly Phillips Hot Zone series. One of the things I love about this series besides the humor is that at it’s core it’s all about family. This is a common theme throughout all of Carly’s series. Annabelle and Brandon are great characters. While neither one of them are perfect, they both have a huge capacity to love. When I did a search on Hot Stuff here on TBRG I discovered that clear back in 2010 I reviewed this book. You can find that review here. I do have to say that when I read it back then I gave it a B+, rereading it now I have given it an A.
After an afternoon of making phone calls regarding advertising opportunities for Vaughn and catching up with her sisters by cell phone, Annabelle leaned back in her chair, exhausted.
She raised her arms over her head and stretched backwards, feeling the pull on her cramped muscles. “Boy it’s been a long one.”
“I agree. What do you say we call it a day and have some fun?” Mara asked from her seat at her desk across the room.
Annabelle tipped her head. “Do you have something particular in mind?”
Drumming her fingers against the desk, Mara grinned and said, “I might.”
Half an hour later, Annabelle and Mara were climbing the bleachers behind the high school, a brown bag of wine coolers in hand. “I know where we are,” Annabelle said. “But I’d like to know why we’re here.”
MAra pulled two coolers out of the bag and after opening the first one, she handed the bottle to Annabelle. “We’re going to guy watch.”
Annabelle raised an eyebrow. “You’re kidding.”
“Nope.” Mara tipped the bottle and took in a good amount of alcohol. “You should have some. It goes well with what we’re about to see.” She gestured across the field to where a bunch of young men in shorts and T-shirts and stormed the field and begun doing laps.
“I’m sure we’re not here to fish for jail bait,” Annabelle muttered and just in case, took a hefty sip of the fruity wine cooler herself.
“No, we’re here to watch the coaches.”With that, Mara let her gaze drift to the two men striding out from behind the school. Nick wore a dark green T-shirt and shorts and Vaughn sported a similar look in light gray.
At the sight of him, Annabelle’s heart did flip reminiscent of her teenage years and suddenly she understood what Mara meant by guy-watching. “You’re taking me back in time.” Annabelle laughed.
“Except things only get better with age and I’m not just talking about men. When we were younger, we’d watch and hope the guys would notice us, right?”
“Well at our age we’re well past hoping.” She whistled loudly and both men’s heads whipped toward her. Mara waved.
Forced to acknowledge Vaughn and Nick, Annabelle did the same.
Mara lowered herself to a sitting position. “Well they know we’re here for one reason only. To see them, which pretty much guarantees they’ll be flattered, which pretty much guarantees a successful evening.” Mara held out her bottled and clinked it against Annabelle’s. “Cheers.” she said.
“I thought you and Nick weren’t going on a date until the party.”
“We’re not.” Mara placed her now empty bottle on the bleacher beside her. “Do you see tow people on a date? I don’t see anyone on a date.”
Annabelle, feeling light-headed from the combination of the wine cooler and the sun, sat down beside Mara. “I see a woman who changed form her work clothes into tight shorts and a skimpy top all in an effort to drive a man insane with lust.” And Mara had encouraged her to get casual as well, so she’d changed into an old Gap miniskirt and a Flashdance-style top.
“Can’t put anything past you,” Mara grinned, then waved at Nick again.
Annabelle figured that by now the man was in a sweat that had nothing to do with the weather. Then there was Vaughn.
She had no idea he’d extended his coaching obligations into the summer, besides helping Todd on occasion, but of course every surprise she learned about him was a positive one. She couldn’t read his thoughts now but if they mirrored her own, he couldn’t wait to get her alone.
“Hello…” Mara snapped a finger in front of Annabelle’s face. “I asked if you planned to take advantage of being older and wiser, too.”
“Hmm.”Annabelle tipped her head to onw side and let her gaze devour Vaughn. “Interesting way of putting it,”she murmured.
Annabelle took a long sip of her drink. Since she was here watching Vaughn, she might as well enjoy the sight. As he urged the kids to work out, he kept pace along with them. And every so often he’d pause and glance up. At her. Though she couldn’t see his eyes beneath the dark shades, she sensed his heated stare and couldn’t mistake the yearning in his expression.
Desire was equally at work inside her. he was so sexy in his cut-off T-shirt and shorts, his hair mussed from sweat and hard work, she could barely catch her breath.
He kept up with the guys but it was obvious he and Todd had a bond. he worked the kid extra hard and rewarded him with encouraging words and black slapping for job well done. Vaughn obviously felt a kinship with the kids. If he could feel this kind of affection for other people’s children, Annabelle realized what a fantastic father he’d make for his own child. She trembled at the thougt.
The sound of Vaughn’s whistle startled her an brought her out of her musings. The guys gathered around Vaughn. Annabelle glanced at her watch, surprised to see that a full hour had passed.
Beside her, Mara stood and collected her things.
“Where are you off to?” Annabelle asked.
“Just to say goodbye to Nick and see if he takes the bait.”
Annabelle nodded. “Sounds like a plan.”
“I thought I’d go back to Vaughn’s, check my messages, see if anyone called me back for booksings. I’d really like to get Vaughn’s face out in frint of the general public again.”
Mara rolled her eyes. “Are you telling me I just plied you with alcohol, let you watch two gorgeous sweaty guys, and all you can think about is work?” She nudged Annabelle in the ribs with her elbow. “Surely you can think of something more exciting to do with your evening.”
Annabelle closed her eyes and let her imagination flow. What would she want to do if nothing stood in her way? She asked herself. Spend the night alone with Vaughn. Under the stars in a place where no onw would bother them. Not his parents, not her uncle, her sisters or even pets.
She opened her eyes and hegan digging into her purse.
“Now what are you doing?”
Annabelle scribled a note onto her sheet of paper, then folded it in half. “Do you think you could give me a ride back to the lodge?” she asked. The rest she could handle from there.
Mara sighed. “Okay, okay. So you learned nothing during our hour together. You’re still determined to work.”
Annabelle folded the paper in half yet again. “One thing about me, Mara. I’m a quick study.” She glanced at the other woman. “Watch and learn.”
She rose and adjusted her clothing, pulling the waistband of her skirt up a notch, which had the desired effect of raising her hewm. Next she shrugged until the left sidr of her wide-necked top fell casually off one shoulder. She ran a hand through her tousled hair, popped a mint from her purse into her mouth and walked down the beachers toward her unsuspecting target.
Annabelle Jordan and her two sisters were little orphans in frilly dresses and ruffled panties when they went to live with their sports-lawyer uncle in his testosterone-fueled world of locker rooms, bookies and gambling.
Now the girls are all grown up, and publicists in their uncle’s firm, The Hot Zone. Yet Annabelle is all woman, despite her upbringing. And she’s naturally drawn to real men—like her latest client, ex-football legend and businessman Brandon Vaughn.
The chemistry is potent, undeniable…irresistible. But Annabelle soon realizes that Brandon is much more than just another jock. And that she’d better hold onto her panties if she doesn’t want to lose her heart…