Naked Heat

Richard Castle books are a lot like potato chips–you can’t read just one. As soon as I finished Heat Wave (see review) I started craving another Castle book, and I caved in within a couple of days and started Naked Heat. It was pure indulgence, and I loved every sinful page of it.

This story starts with Lt. Nikki Heat and her two detectives Raley and Ochoa discovering Jameson Rook at the scene of a recent homicide, listening to his iPod, with the body of the victim in the next room. (Any resemblances between events in the book and episodes of seasons 2 and 3 of Castle are undoubtedly intentional).

Heat hasn’t seen her former shadow and occasional lover, journalist Rook, for a few months. Not since his article in First Press magazine about his “ride-along” with her and her detectives was published. That article made her the focus of the piece, and brought her a lot of unwanted attention. Nikki only wants to be a cop, not a media darling. And the article made her look like a one-woman crimefighter, totally shortchanging her team.

No one at the Precinct really wanted to see Rook again. He’d screwed all of them in that article, one way or another.

But the dead body in the next room was Cassidy Towne, mud-slinging gossip-raker extraordinaire…and Jameson Rook’s current subject. Without, as he explained to Nikki, the sex.

Even if none of the team wanted Rook back, they needed him this time. He was the insider, both in the publishing world, and on the subject of Cassidy Towne’s current projects and potential enemies.

So they were stuck with Rook after all, trying to charm his way into everyone’s good graces again, and back into Nikki’s bed. All the while, trying to help the police solve the case of Cassidy Towne’s death before the killer strikes again.

Escape Rating B: I was struck by how much Nikki Heat reminds me of Eve Dallas in the J.D. Robb In Death series. And through Dallas, Sigrid Harald from Margaret Maron’s series as well. The tough female detective with the damaged past who builds a family out of the members of her precinct house, and eventually finds love in a most unlikely place. Nikki, Eve and Sigrid are all sisters under the skin.

But if Nikki is an avatar for Eve Dallas, Jameson Rook is no Roarke. Not on Rook’s best day and Roarke’s worst. I like Jameson Rook as a character, but there’s no resemblance. The analogy just doesn’t stretch that far, in spite of the similar names.

Jameson Rook, unlike Richard Castle, is a magazine writer, and presumbly doesn’t make as comfortable a living. So Rook has to supplement his earnings by writing under a pseudonym. And what does Jameson Rook write, and as whom? Under the name Victoria St. Clair, Jameson Rook writes romance novels. And he’s not the first fictional hero to make his living this way, either. In Tanya Huff’s Blood series, Victoria Nelson’s vampire partner, Henry Fitzroy, also wrote historical romances. I keep imagining Henry and Rook meeting at a romance writers’ convention. It would have to be at night, of course.

I read this book just for fun. I’m posting this review in the middle of the ALA Midwinter Conference because there are a lot of librarians out there on the conference floor picking up Advance Reading Copies to read, just for fun. Even more importantly, a big part of our jobs is to select books that folks in our communities we hope will be dying to read, just for fun.

Naked Heat is one of those books.