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In Carolina Heat Annabelle Carlyle barrels into Charleston at a moment's notice, resigned to taking on her next journalism assignment, and immediately gets a whole lot more than she bargained for.
For starters, she happens into a helpful handsome hunk with stunning muscles. His tan nearly more extraordinary than his physique and he sports a southern drawl as sweet as warm honey. Mark has a nice sense of humor too, immediately making light of his aid, calling it his daily `rescue of damsel in distress.'
Just as we settle in to enjoy the two of them getting to know one another, the plot leaps in another direction entirely. Annabelle's boss calls, but with an amazing lack of details about her actual assignment. Go see the city, he tells her. We (and she) can tell there is more to this than a travel story, but what, exactly? She's hardly there to smell the magnolias, but what exactly she'll be looking into intrigues us as much as her. Only slowly do we (or our heroine) gain information on the recently missing Civil War buff/museum curator. Something is going on and it's immediately apparent...
Annabelle is always willing to think the worst in any situation, so between work-stress, the secret search, and Mark's innuendos, she's decidedly leaning toward short tempered, snappy decisions. Given her reactions to some comments, we don't know if she's a bit shrewish, or if Mark is a tiny bit creepy.
Ms. Barth builds a wonderfully involved story. With attention to small detail, from very internal things like personal attitudes, to more descriptive passages of the smothering, humid heat, she really brings this story to life.
The odd happy coincidence keeps the romance end of things moving along, even if somewhat tempestuously, but still, it doesn't take much imagination to grasp where it is going. Snappy dialogue and moments of suspense keep things moving right along. Some intimate moments are simply smoking... and I love the fact that even though a lot happens, (and there were other important characters, even Annabelle's male friend Jonathan,) Ms. Barth never lets us lose sight of the central romance.
Feel like you've met a real charmer in historic Charleston, yourself! Carolina Heat has all the charm suggested by a sweet southern accent with more than a touch of spice!