Emotional, funny, heartbreaking, sexy, and sweetly romantic. That's how I felt while reading Turn It Up! The best feeling I can get when I finish a book is knowing parts of it will stay with me forever -- I don't think I'll ever look at canned peach halves the same way ever again, lol!
Charlie and Bastion are best friends; have been for six years. The ER doctor and late-night radio disc jockey met and the unlikely pair clicked. They share everything together -- even a three times a week radio talk show called "Let's Talk About Sex". Dr. Hot and Honeypot spice up the airwaves with Bastion's knowledge of medical information and Charlie's sexpert insight.
I was hooked straight from the beginning as the pair lounge around a campfire; flirting, teasing, discussing all kinds of things as best friends are known to do. The conversation turns to secrets of which Charlie assures Bastion that she keeps nothing from him. She's frightened by the flash of guilt that crosses Bastion's face! She knows he's hiding something from her, insists that he share, and when he finally does it sends poor Charlie into a panic: Bastion admits that he's in love with her. Not only does he love her, he wants her as his wife! I know what you're thinking: the hero declares his love from the beginning!? Yes!
It's not all a fairytale after that. Charlie has a very complicated relationship with love and sex. She developed her bombshell looks (she's described as being a Betty Boop) at an early age. Since then, men have wanted one thing from her--her body, never her heart. To protect herself, she uses sex as a weapon. To Charlie, Bastion's declaration of love puts him in the same category as every other man who's wanted to use her. She's fearful of losing their friendship. It saddened me how such a confident woman had such a low opinion of herself.
The hardest part of this book for me was understanding why Charlie couldn't see the difference between Bastion and other men from her past. She trusted Bastion, loved him, believed in him, but she just couldn't make the connection between how he felt for her as a friend growing deeper and fuller in an intimate relationship.
Thankfully, Bastion knows how Charlie thinks. He realizes she uses sex to hide from love. So begins a battle of wills; Bastion refusing to sleep with Charlie until she says, "Yes." and Charlie trying to get Bastion in bed to prove he doesn't need to spout words of love to have her. The heat climbs as Bastion uses their radio show to get idea on how to persuade Charlie to marry him! The race "To Bed or Wed" commences and the things these two are willing to do to win will alternately make you laugh/moan/cry! Bastion woos Charlie. Charlie turns up the sex-kitten routine. I couldn't decide which one I wanted to win! Their on-air banter throughout the book were some of the best moments
I really fell in love with Bastion. Inez Kelley created a hero with plenty of flaws, but you just know he's perfect for Charlie. His love for her glowed on every page. At one point in the book, Bastion chooses Charlie over a dream he thought he'd never have. I cried when he told her, my heart breaking for him and loving him more with every self-sacrificing word he spoke.
Charlie's reaction to that moment is what kept this from being a five-star read for me. By that time, I'd learned to understand her tough outer-shell, gotten to learn the deep love she feels for Bastion. Her strength was commendable. Then Bastion makes a grand gesture, clearly with her in mind, and she does a really stupid thing. I can't tell you or else I'd ruin the moment, but suffice it to say I wanted to clobber her! It was hypocritical of her to feel that way and the following chapter ratcheted-up my annoyance. Had Charlie been the one to rectify things after that, I maybe could have given it five-stars, but she wasn't. Again, it was Bastion who made the effort and her sudden epiphany had me hollering, "Hallelujah! It's about friggin' time!"
I wouldn't be doing this review justice if I didn't mention Caz (Bastion's brother). He is the biggest surprise in the whole book! Caz is a tattooed rock star who struggled with staying clean and sober. As his story unfolded throughout the book, I was dying to learn more! I needed to find out who Maggie and Grace were. As soon as I finished Turn It Up, I checked to see if Caz has a book of his own (please Lord let there be a book!) I was thrilled to find that not only does Caz get his HEA, his short story is a freebie: Wishing for Grace. Be sure you grab it from Ms. Kelley's website!