Book Review

Red Hot Renegade by Kelly Hunter

B

Title: Red Hot Renegade
Author: Kelly Hunter
Publication Info: Mills & Boon 2010
ISBN: 9780263877434
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book CoverThanks to Jane Litte, I spent a few hours on the water’s edge in Vancouver reading this book, and I am so pleased that I did.

Through total coincidence, I’ve read a lot of reconciliation romance, which is totally fine with me as I love to read romances featuring people growing wiser, healing and repairing relationships. This was another romance after a few in a row featuring a couple that endured a long separation, during which they grew up a little, and learned to appreciate each other better than when they’d originally connected.

But the difficult balance of reconciliation is to explain to the reader where the hero and heroine put that ardor, love and trusting attraction for 10 or 12 years. In this case, Jianne and Jacob were married 12 years prior and they separated. Jianne had left her marriage with Jacob for a number of reasons, some of which were based on misunderstandings and some of which were based on pride and hurt.

When they get back together this time, it is because of an overly-attentive suitor who looks at Jianne as his next challenge and a possession to be acquired, and is pretty much stalking her to get her to agree to go out with him. Jianne knows Jacob can protect her, but she doesn’t want to go to him for help.

After only a few days in the same home, their attraction for one another is too much for them to resist – and the author does a spanking good job of building that attraction in small moments and steps – and they end up ferociously kissing one another.

I’m all for ferociously kissing but it seemed after the kissing and the whatallelse, the troubles of 12 years were too easily solved. One conversation, a few moments where one of them had to choose a different behavior or reaction than they would have displayed previously during their early marriage, and some red hot kissing does not make a solution to 12 years of estrangement. It was almost too easy a repair.

Moreover, there seemed to be heaping pile of backstory I was missing. I got glimpses of Jacob’s history with his siblings, and how Jianne came to join their family, but and how there was a huge fracture when she left. Backflashes weren’t quite enough for me – I always felt like I was missing the whole picture. And if the damage was so great when their marriage fractured, why was it so easy to put back together? If it was surprisingly easy to put them back together, why stay apart and miserable for 12 years? And what really happened to break them apart – what happened in the moments when she left?

Even with the incomplete picture that led me to question Jacob and Jianne’s motivations, the writing is supreme. The setting in Singapore, revealing both the opulent wealthy people and the people living on top of one another in small and tightly-gathered neighborhoods, was endlessly fascinating. The ancillary characters who showed up for moments or scenes seemed real to me, and I could imagine Jacob in a neighbor’s restaurant, talking catering and food while chatting about the neighbors, too. The explanations never felt too heavy or made me feel as if all the details had to be explained to me as someone who had never been to Singapore and was unfamiliar with Asian social customs. Plus, Jianne’s dialogue and the descriptions of her were a finely-crafted portrait of a contemporary Asian woman. I was not hit over the head with the “SHE IS ASIAN GET IT? LET ME DESCRIBE HER EYES AGAIN, SEE?” descriptions – thank heavens. Jianne’s conversation with a shopkeeper in Singapore, in particular, reveals so much about her perspective, as do the mentions of various languages spoken by the characters, Jianne included.

I particularly liked the scenes where Jianne went shopping, especially with her sister-in-law, and how her purchase of anything was likely to be an issue with Jacob, who was uncomfortable with her fortune.

I would not have expected to like this book as much as I did, since it was the end of a series, and I was being introduced to characters that were from previous books that I hadn’t read. I loved Jianne’s strength, Jacob’s focus and training as a sensei that gave a unique understanding of his character and his issues, and the dojo community around them both. I wish I had more of an understanding of the backstory between them so that the depth of hurt would have been better balanced against the reconciliation between them that was so quickly bridged by their attraction. As much as I found to revel in and enjoy about this book, the missing elements were that much more irritating, and I finished it wishing there were more.


This book can be purchased from a third-party vendor at Amazon.com, Book Depository, and Mills and Boon UK as a paper book and an ebook.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Ros says:

    Read the rest of the series!  Seriously, I would put two of the earlier books from this series in my top five category romances: Wife for a Week (set mostly in Hong Kong) and Untameable Rogue (also in Singapore, also featuring Jake and Po and Luke and Maddy and with some of the backstory about Jianne that you were missing) are both truly awesome.  The other two are good as well, but more generic Harlequin fodder, in my opinion.

  2. 2
    FD says:

    I’ve read Untameable Rogue, and I really liked it – one of the more memorable Harlequin Moderns that I’ve read.  I’m a little disappointed that Jianne’s story isn’t apparently as good – although, y’know a B review is nothing to sneeze at!

  3. 3
    JaneDrew says:

    Ah, I was going to ponder whether one of the backstory issues might have been that this was the last book in the series, and the missing pieces were in an earlier book—from Ros’s comment, sounds like that might be the case! Good to know if/when I try to search out the books!

  4. 4
    Melissa says:

    I have enjoyed all of Ms. Hunter’s books since I read Wife for a Week.  I am always so happy to see one of her books in my bundle!

  5. 5
    Ros says:

    Just to be clear, I don’t think that all the backstory issues in this book are cleared up if you’ve read the previous one, but I think it definitely would help.  And Untameable Rogue is awesome, so you should all read it anyway!

  6. 6
    endlessdesk says:

    For some strange reason, while I’m sure it’s a great book and a fantastic series, having a harlequin (or Mills and Boon) series set in SIngapore sends shivers down my spine. Probably because I’m FROM Singapore…

  7. 7
    beggar1015 says:

    I have to wonder about the cover photo to this book. Is it because the heroine is Asian that on the cover her face is just about completely hidden? Kinda makes me think (perhaps incorrectly) that the publisher was afraid of scaring off customers from buying a book about a “furriner”.

  8. 8
    Jane says:

    I had no idea that a) you read the book when I recommended it and b) that you were posting a review of it today.

    Moreover, there seemed to be heaping pile of backstory I was missing. I got glimpses of Jacob’s history with his siblings, and how Jianne came to join their family, but and how there was a huge fracture when she left. Backflashes weren’t quite enough for me – I always felt like I was missing the whole picture. And if the damage was so great when their marriage fractured, why was it so easy to put back together? If it was surprisingly easy to put them back together, why stay apart and miserable for 12 years? And what really happened to break them apart – what happened in the moments when she left?

    This was my biggest problem with the book. I enjoyed everything in the book but I felt like I was missing more of the story (and I have read the previous four books).

    But, like you, I felt that the world building was excellent. There was one point in which Jianne says to herself, I will not be the rabbit, or something like that and I thought that this was an example of her internal narrative taking on a slightly different and perhaps, eastern, feel to it.

  9. 9
    Liz says:

    Thanks to reviews by you, Jane, and Ros, I now have this whole series on my Sony waiting for vacation.  Glad you enjoyed Vancouver, my lovely adopted hometown.

  10. 10
    LoriA says:

    The first book I read by Kelly Hunter was The Maverick’s Greek Island Mistress (not the original M&B title), mostly because someone recommended her books and promised that, despite the title and it being a Harlequin Presents, there weren’t any billionaire tycoons or virgin mistresses. ;-) The hero wasn’t Greek, but the heroine, raised in Australia, was spending time with relatives in Greece (she was working there). I was intrigued by the notion that Harlequin had shoehorned this book into a series where I wasn’t sure it belonged (haven’t read enough HPs recently to be sure); but I think HP is probably the only place for Aussie authors & non-US settings now?  Anyway, I really like what I’ve read thus far of Hunter’s work, and do recommend it.

  11. 11
    peggy h says:

    I’ve been a fan of Kelly Hunter since Wife for a Week, which is my favorite of the three Bennett sibling books that have been released in the US thus far.  When you step back to think about it, there are some pretty ridiculous things that happen in that book but the writing is fun and you get to love the characters so much (including the secondary characters) that the preposterous stuff don’t matter!

    After reading this review, I don’t think I can wait for the US release of the two final Bennett books….!  Book depository, here I come!

  12. 12
    Ros says:

    @LoriA, All Kelly Hunter’s books are published in the UK as Modern Heat.  In the US Modern Heat and Modern are both published under the same line, Presents.  But really, the two lines are very distinct.  Modern Heats don’t have trillionaires or pouting virgins, as you found.  They are a lot more fun and a lot more realistic.  So if you’re looking for more of the same, it’s worth checking the Mills and Boon site to see which are the Modern Heat authors and titles.

  13. 13
    Megan from Harlequin says:

    @LoriA, If you’re interested in non-US settings/authors, don’t be afraid to check out some of our other series, not just Harlequin Presents. Superromance in particular features several Australian and New Zealand authors, many of whom set their books in those countries. Keep an eye out for books by Karina Bliss, Joan Kilby, Abby Gaines and Sarah Mayberry (just off the top of my head). (Karina will have a novella in the Superromance Christmas anthology coming out this November.)

  14. 14
    Angry kitty says:

    @loriA there’s a whole heap of Aussie authors in the HR line – Melissa James, Nikki Logan, Marion Lennox, Jennie Adams.  And we have 10 ANZers who’ve written for the Desire line incl. Bron Jameson, Maxine Sullivan, Paula Roe, Robyn Grady, Yvonne Lindsay.

  15. 15
    Ken Enlarge says:

    I have the whole series except for this book in my vacation TBR (read and liked the first two). It will take a lot to top Bedded for Diamonds for me, but I’ll have to get this one at M&B now.

    I love Kelly Hunter and look forward to her releases. She’s part of the set of very talented Australian authors that are writing for Romance and Modern Heat (to turn into Riva or whatever soon).

  16. 16
    Jane Holland says:

    I haven’t finished Red-Hot Renegade, but went to see Eclipse the other day with it in my bag. During the interminable trailers, I got it out and started reading the first chapter … and there were points in the film when I wished I was reading about Ms Hunter’s Jacob rather than watching the one on screen (despite his glorious pecs, yum).

    Haven’t finished it yet, but did spot the bit about the rabbit. Neat touch, putting us right into a different world view with a single reference.

    I wondered about the significance of the cover art too. Hmm.

  17. 17
    Nicola Marsh says:

    @LoriA Other Aussie Harlequin Modern Heat (soon to be RIVA) authors are Ally Blake & myself (I also write for Harlequin Romance, along with Claire Baxter.)
    Loads of Aussie settings guaranteed among the lot of us :)

    I adored Kelly’s Untameable Rogue and can’t wait to read Jake’s story when it hits Aussie shelves next month!

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