Reviewed: October 10, 2011
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: N/A (Non-Series)
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 85,000 Words
Formats: Kindle, Nook
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Carina Press via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
Late night radio shock jock Charlie Pierce, known publicly as sex queen radio personality Honeypot, has been best friends with Dr. Bastien Talbot for years. She trusts him implicitly and loves him in a way that is safe and comfortable within the boundaries of their friendship. The nights he joins her on air for their thrice weekly Dr. Hot and the Honeypot show, discussing sundry sexual issues and answering sex questions from callers, are her favorite nights at work.
He's everything to her. Knows her like no other. He's a part of her heart and soul. Until he ruins everything when he admits that he's been in love with her for over a year, wants more than their friendship, and asks her to marry him.
Bastien hadn't meant to blurt his feelings out to Charlie like he had. That doesn't mean he wasn't dead serious about his intentions. She's more than his best friend, she's his heart's home, and he wants her as his wife. For all their years of friendship, though, Bastien knows Charlie inside and out and knows that she's absolutely terrified by the idea of love. Sex, sure, no problem, Charlie heartily embraces her sexuality, but his best friend has intimacy issues a mile long and even the thought of love sends her running.
Now that he's come clean to her he has no intention of backing off, no matter how much more comfortable Charlie would be if he did. He refuses to lose his best friend, and he has no intention of cheating them both out of the love he knows they both deserve. So he lays down the gauntlet. No sex with her - though his body's dying for it - until she agrees to marry him. Not to be outdone, Charlie has a counter proposal: he forgets his proposal if she can seduce him into having sex with her before he can get her to say yes.
A doctor intent on forever against a sexpot determined for right now, with a live radio audience weighing in on both sides. Let the games begin, but first things first. Turn it up!
Chock full of sexy banter, wickedly hot chemistry, and the endearing and enduring caring of genuine friendship, Turn It Up was a heck of a fun read. Both characters were likable, but I have to admit, I fell hard for Bastien, who was about as adorable and sexy and intent a character as I've read lately. Kelley did a great job with the evolving relationship between Bastien and Charlie, and kept the plot zipping along with the help of their radio show and the . sizzling battle of their conflicting goals.
Two things in particular impressed me and elevated this book to a level above a sexy but simple romp of mindless fun. The first was the quality and genuineness of the friendship between the lead characters. These weren't two characters who claimed to be best friends despite actions that seemed to prove just the opposite. Their history and their friendship was believable and real in a way that's not often captured well on page. They knew each other as only the very best friends ever do - embracing the strengths, weaknesses, flaws, and all, and the story stayed very true to that, even through the inevitable conflicts, internal and external. I found their relationship as friends just as appealing and interesting to read about as their journey to more.
The other thing that caught and held my attention was the surprising amount of depth and poignant truism that was reflected in Charlie's intimacy issues. I've read several books recently where deep-seated fear of commitment has been the heroine's bailiwick, and I've often found myself getting annoyed at the shallowness of the issue as it's been developed. That wasn't the case here. Kelley not only laid a solid foundation for Charlie's issues, she was rock solid on every aspect of them, from where they originated to how they occasionally dictated Charlie's behavior, to the grip they held on her heart even as her head protested.
Admittedly, it wasn't always a pretty picture, and there were times when I wanted to give Charlie a little bit of a shake, but it was so realistic and believable, to the point where some of her actions and the motivations behind them hurt my heart when I read them. I never felt Charlie slipped into the realm of unsympathetic as has happened all too often with other characters purporting similar issues.
Besides offering nice counterpoints to the lighter points of the story, both of those things added depth and sincerity to the book, as well as a certain amount of emotional significance, that I hadn't expected but definitely appreciated.
I did wish the plot threads with Bastien's brother had been expanded and woven into the arc of the book in a more thorough fashion. There was room for much more development with the conflicted and complex musical genius brother who bears scars from his past, and not only would I have liked that on its own merits, that development could also have aided Bastien's character. As much as I loved Bastien, I have to admit there were moments when he tread dangerously close to being a little too perfect as a man and a romantic lead. Adding a more robust plotline, however ancillary, that touched even more on his brother's issues and how he and Bastien related to each other would have been nice to scruff up Bastien's character a little.
There was one point in the story that wasn't as strong as the rest and caused me some problems. The major relationship conflict between the main characters (and just about every romance novel has one) was a little odd and didn't sit well with me. Bastien's decisions and actions didn't seem quite organic to his character given his previous development and Charlie's reactions to the situation seemed disproportionate and childish in the face of the conflict. Admittedly, part of the problem is my lack of fondness for major relationship conflicts based on a lack of communication between the main characters. They frustrate me because they could so easily be non-issues if dealt with maturely. As a result, the conflict and subsequent resolution here seem a bit contrived.
Thankfully, none of that was severe enough or dragged out so long that it ruined my overall impression of the book or the author. Turn It Up was a unique blend of sexy fun and substantial story that both appealed to me and impressed me for what it offered. I enjoyed this one a lot.
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