Too Hot to Handle by Elizabeth Lowell

Just Finished:

Synopsis: Tory Wells arrived at Sundance Ranch with only a battered suitcase and a letter from a friend that promised employment. Recovering from knee surgery, Tory desperately needed this job. And Ethan Reever was her only hope.

But Reever wasted no time in telling Tory he wanted nothing to do with some city-bred stranger. In his opinion, a woman like Tory knew nothing about ranch life, and he’d decided long ago that he had no use for pretty, useless women. Especially one who looked at him as innocently as Tory did — no matter how much he desired her . . .

Tory knew one thing for certain. Determined to show him she could make it on her own, she vowed never to ask Reever for anything ever again. Not a job. Not money. And definitely not his love.

My Thoughts: Well, what can I say. I liked this in spite of myself. See, the story was a little bit too Diana Palmer-ish for my tastes; and I gave up Diana (who was one of my faves, btw) for one reason: I felt like I was re-reading the same story over, and over, and over again. The hero is always much older than the heroine, the heroine is almost always a virgin; the hero always calls the heroine “little one”, and the hero always has to explain what le petite morte is.

In Too Hot to Handle Reever, the hero, is 33; Tory, the heroine, is 20 (Palmer check #1); Tory is a virgin (Palmer check #2); Reever calls Tory “little one” (Palmer check #3); and although Reever doesn’t have to explain exactly what an orgasm is, he describes it as the two of them dying together (therefore, morte, therefore Palmer check #4).

Yes, I realize that this is Elizabeth Lowell, but I swear I could have been reading Diana Palmer. I really could have. In spite of this, the writing was good. I found myself submerged into the story and looking forward to what happens when I wasn’t reading it.

I did like Tory for the most part, although it did seem she played the victim a little too much, especially around Reever. She wasn’t strong in that aspect and that bugged me. I liked Reever also. Yes, he’s an ass, but that’s probably what I liked most about him. He wasn’t some lollypop version of a dime-store hero.

Okay, and so what if when she was in the throws of a good orgasm she said the three dreaded words ~~ I Love You. Not really my favorite thing to read, but I can deal with it. And of course Reever turned into and ass again for about 5 days after she said those dreaded words. Which caused the *gasp* big understanding. He thought she wanted to leave him to go back to competitive diving, she thought he could never love her. Sheesh, I hate big misunderstandings. But, it was all cleared up within the last few pages and I got my HEA with a big red bow tied around it.

And really, people should read it just for the bareback scene alone.

***This is a reprint. The story was originally published in Silhouette Desire #319 in November 1986***

Verdict: This was somewhere between Okay and Good. I enjoyed Elizabeth Lowell’s writing, even if the story itself held just about everything in it that I dislike about a novel. But I read it anyway, so that’s something. I’ve got more of Elizabeth’s books in my stacks and look forward to reading them in the future.

8 thoughts on “Too Hot to Handle by Elizabeth Lowell

  1. This was a great comparison review. I’ve noticed Lowell’s Silhouettes being re-released. I collected all her back list and bought everything she wrote for years. Palmer too. I stopped for exactly the reasons you noted in your review.

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  2. Rosie ~ I still have Sweet Wind, Wild Wind (another reprint) to read, and then also her Only series. This was my first EL, but I won’t be collecting her backlist for the same reasons I have listed here. I already went through that with Palmer.

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  3. I read this one way back when it first came out. I suppose you could say her old category books are a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. I shouldn’t like them – the heroes are mostly jerks, the heroines a little too innocent to connect with – but still there’s something about them that make me inhale her like candy. I wonder how she would stand the test of time? I haven’t read her older ones for a while now. It might be interesting to read them and see.

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  4. Kristie, I feel the same curiosity. I’d love to read a few of those old category romances and see if they still rocked me boat. Dev, EL wasn’t formulaic like Palmer. The plot you describe is an unusual one for EL. Her H/H are usually more compatible and in the same age bracket. The heroes sometimes do a bit of rescuing, but not always. Kristie, am I forgetting anything?

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  5. Rosie ~ I need to dig out the Only series from my TBR piles and start on them. I’m glad to know that EL isn’t formulaic like Palmer, because I’d have serious misgivings about reading anything else.

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  6. I think her heroes were a bit to angsty for me – that’s why I quit reading her. And because they were so angsty, they were often more cruel then necessary to the heroines, but as Rosie said, they were usually more balanced than in THTH

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  7. Kristie ~ I did manage to find the Only series in my stacks (that’s quite a feat ~ let me tell you), so I’ll be reading those next. Well, I’ll read the first one ~ depending on how angsty the hero is, then I’ll read the rest of them.

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