I was pleasantly surprised when I first read Janice Maynard. Her book, The Perfect Ten was a sexy and enjoyable read. Some may label Janice as erotica because the love scenes she pens do smolder, but never crosses that line were I would be uncomfortable reading. There are no hanging from the ceiling scenes or crazy out of control sexual positions that will make your eyes pop out of your head. Her latest, Hot Mail was even better than I expected. This is one contemporary romance that is a must read to start off 2009.
Jane Norman runs her own stationary store in a small town in Tennessee called Statlerville where she grew up. Jane loves the small town life, and should be fulfilled, but she isn’t. Jane is thirty-two and even though her biological clock isn’t ticking yet, she yearns for sex, really good sex with great foreplay and cuddling afterward. Jane has never had that and since she is all alone on New Year’s Eve she is a bit depressed. She really wants the new year to be different than all the past years and she wants to spend it with that special man in her life that got away from her. He is Ethan Oldham, the assistant chief of police and the man Jane has always loved. Jane and Ethan have known each other forever and were once the best of friends. Four years ago, Jane let their friendship slide when Ethan became engaged to another woman. Jane was heartbroken and couldn’t remain so close to Ethan. Ethan was oblivious to Jane’s feelings.
Ethan’s engagement ended and now Jane thinks this is the perfect time to act. Instead of coming out and saying her feelings, she decides to do something so out of the box, and that is send Ethan a love poem from a secret admirer. She will write these poems till Valentine’s Day and by then she hopes Ethan will get a clue that she is the one who has sent them. And when Ethan finally realizes how much Jane cares for him, she wants to get down to business, as in the bedroom, where Ethan can use his handcuffs to good use.
Ethan has regrets about his engagement, not only because the woman he was engaged to was so wrong for him, but because it ruined his relationship with Jane. Ethan wants to go back to what he had with Jane, but is not sure how to do it because he thinks Jane wants nothing to do with him. He never understood why they drifted apart. Being the assistant chief of police keeps him very busy as well as keeping an eye out for his older sister, who is a divorced mother. His sister Sherry got pregnant at seventeen and now her daughter Debra has moved away to go to college in Florida where her father is. Sherry is depressed and feels like an old maid with no one around to care for, other than Ethan. Sherry wants Ethan to start dating again, because he has become quite the dating hermit. He makes a ton of excuses on why he can’t. But he would still love to try and see if Jane wants to be friends again.
One night there is a break in at Jane’s story and Ethan rushes there to make sure she is okay. Ethan even stays the night in her apartment to calm her down. Things between these two are a bit shaky, but Jane is thrilled that Ethan seems to want to be close again. Ethan is concerned for Jane. But then he is in for quite a shock when he is sent an anonymous sex note! He thinks he may have a stalker and keeps the note hidden. He doesn’t want Jane to find out. Soon these two are slowly becoming comfortable with one another again. They talk and hang out. Ethan is thrilled, while Jane is frustrated because she wants Ethan to make the next move. She is through with just being best buds. She wants Ethan to become her lover. But Ethan won’t do that because he doesn’t want to ruin what they now have. Plus, he is a bit confused because his feelings for Jane has changed where he wonders what it would be like to kiss her and do other things.
Suddenly Jane is the target of vandals and her store is almost burned down. Someone is out to destroy her business and Ethan is the one who wants to protect her. Ethan continues to receive steamy sex poems and he becomes even more embarrassed. He has no clue who is sending them to him and feels he can’t ask Jane for advice. Things are going so well between him and Jane, so well in fact that these two former best friends are no enjoying each other’s company in bed.
I always have enjoyed romances where friends become lovers. Jane and Ethan are so adorable and Ethan’s response to his growing feelings and other body parts for Jane made me smile. Soon after Jane and Ethan become physical, Ethan can’t help but want Jane all the time. His dry spell with sex is now over and only Jane can quench his thirst. Jane loves being sexually adventurous and free with Ethan. He loves her body, her attitude and the way she embraces life. Jane is the type of woman a man wants as his best friend and life long partner.
The sex scenes between these two simmer and I loved how they were so comfortable with one another. The small mystery about why Jane’s store is being targeted doesn’t overtake the story but allows Jane and Ethan to act on their feelings for one another. And even when Jane and Ethan have finally become a couple, Jane still sends her love poems to Ethan. Ethan is so clueless and after a while I wanted him to get a clue because right till the very end he had no idea that Jane is his secret admirer.
There is also a nice secondary romance with Ethan’s sister Sherry and one of Ethan’s younger officers. Randy is almost ten years younger than Sherry but has fallen really hard for her. Sherry enjoys the attention but can’t understand why a young attractive guy like Randy would want to date an old single mother like her? Janice Maynard can sure write some incredible man and she does a great job with both Ethan and Randy. Randy’s pursuit of Sherry was just as great to read as well as Ethan and Jane’s budding romance.
Hot Mail is a winner in my book. If you haven’t had the chance to read a Janice Maynard title, definitely add this book to your TBR pile. (Signet Eclipse)
4 stars out of 5 stars.