Linden is a college student who lives alone in a small apartment. Though he is focused on his exams and achieving the best results possible at college, he also cares for others, taking time to shop for his neighbors and water their forgotten plants, as well as volunteering at the local soup kitchen and selling his homemade cards online.
Linden’s neighbors, “Auntie” Jane and Mr. Stevens, have a son who they barely see, although this Christmas he promises to visit them. One day, when Linden uses the key he has to their flat, Brice is there, mistaking Linden for cleaning staff. Brice is abrasive and rude and though Linden is physically attracted to him, after sharing their first kiss that results in a swift exit by Brice, Linden decides Brice is not someone he can become involved with. However, Auntie Jane and Mr. Stevens have other plans, ‘accidentally’ locking Brice and Linden in the apartment alone for them to work through their issues. But will Brice leave again and if he does, will their relationship make it until the new year?
Honey and Heat is a novel I struggled with. On my first two attempts, I was convinced that I would have to leave it as a DNF, but on my third try, I completed it, if a little unwillingly.
I do not want to judge Rian Durant’s writing style too harshly and there were no obvious grammatical errors that deterred me. Instead it was the flow of the story that I felt was too busy and at times hard to follow, particularly when group conversations were taking place. Durant chooses to let these conversations happen naturally, without the interrupting ‘he said’, ‘she said,’ and although some readers will like this, I found it hard to keep track of the characters’ thoughts and opinions.
Linden and Brice are supported in Honey and Heat by more than a handful of secondary characters. Some, like Auntie Jane and Mr. Stevens who I liked for their generosity and humor, and others like Jerry, Kai and Ash who yes, were part of the story for a reason, but I felt complicated the situation unnecessarily.
In all honesty, Brice is a d**k! He is egotistical, self-centered, and only happy when life is going his way. I was concerned that his relationship with Linden bordered on abuse and their’s was a happy ending I just did not want to see. Linden spends his time in Honey and Heat either feeling hurt and upset by Brice’s words and actions or standing up for himself and leaving Brice to his own devices. The story would have worked better for me if Linden’s strength had lasted and he did not return to the man who broke him.
I may not personally believe in love at first sight, but in Honey and Heat, Durant wants us to. My issue here is that for Linden and Brice, the word ‘love’ appears to become synonymous with lust, making it hard for me as a reader to distinguish which emotion is the genuine one.
Was this what he had waited for for so long? Craving? Love? Every touch made his heart beat faster, just like the other throbbing. He arched again, seeking more friction with that strong hot body, with the hard flesh that right now was yearning for him.
Set around Christmastime, I think Honey and Heat would be categorized as a holiday novel. Unfortunately, I did not feel that it contained enough of the elements I need to class it as such. I want to finish a holiday story feeling light, fulfilled, and hopeful, whereas at the end of this I felt disappointed and downhearted that the author would encourage her reader to want to believe in such a deficient relationship. I do, however, apologize to Durant now for my reactions as I am recovering from ending a long-term relationship with a narcissist so my feelings may be more extreme than that of other readers.
I read to immerse myself in the lives of characters and their worlds, only the setting of Honey and Heat is ambiguous. The German language is used in parts, though I believe that Varna and Sofia are in Bulgaria. I did not have a strong enough sense of the country the story takes place in to be able to differentiate.
I am unable to recommend this novel because of the reasons above, but please remember that this is just one reviewer’s opinion and you may enjoy Honey and Heart.