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Hot Item    by Carly Phillips order for
Hot Item
by Carly Phillips
Order:  USA  Can
Harlequin, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

For those readers who have been eagerly awaiting the finale in the Hot Zone trilogy, Hot Item is finally here. This time it's buttoned-down middle sister Sophie's turn to find romance in a most unexpected way. As an integral member of her family's Manhattan based sports management agency, Sophie figures she has no time for romance; most of the men she meets are her clients and the only relationship she wants with the pro athletes her firm represents is strictly business. But when a gossip columnist reveals that The Hot Zone's newest business partner (big-time sports agent Spencer Atkins) is gay, Sophie's controlled world spirals into chaos.

The situation worsens when star quarterback Riley Nash (Atkins' son from a failed marriage) invades her personal space demanding that Sophie do damage control to ensure that Atkins' secret doesn't ruin Riley's career and that of his stepfather, a conservative senator set to run for the presidency. Sophie and Riley head to Florida where they believe Atkins may be hiding out with his two eccentric sisters at their swinging retirement home. Atkins remains elusive and his sisters refuse to give him up. It soon becomes apparent they'll need a few more days to convince the sports agent to come out of hiding and face the music. Bad news for Sophie; as much as she hates admitting it to herself she's always been attracted to Riley. She can't afford to spend any more time around him; he's already shattered her control more than once! Riley's not complaining though; in their few days together, he falls for Sophie in a big way. Now all he has to do is convince her that commitment isn't a recipe for disaster.

Hot Item is a great conclusion to Phillips' sports trilogy. Sophie and Riley are both engaging characters who definitely fit into the opposites attract category. Phillips gives them both plenty of baggage to work through, including dealing with Riley's teenage daughter Lizzie, who balks at having to share her doting dad with another woman. The author does a sensitive treatment of both the teenager's fears and society's views of homosexuality, especially within the macho sports arena. She balances these more serious topics with nice doses of humour, particularly with Atkin's eccentric and fun-loving sisters. Hot Item works well as a stand-alone but if you enjoyed the story as much as I did you'll want to hunt up the first two books as well - Hot Stuff and Hot Number.

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