Hot and Bothered

Hot and Bothered

4.1 8
by Dianne Castell
Savannah, Georgia: city of history, mystery, and more than a few ghosts, as well as four best friends who have never fit in anywhere except with each other. But everything is about to change as an unsolved murder from decades ago draws them close-and closer still-to four sexy bachelors with secrets of their own...


In the "new" old south,


Savannah, Georgia: city of history, mystery, and more than a few ghosts, as well as four best friends who have never fit in anywhere except with each other. But everything is about to change as an unsolved murder from decades ago draws them close-and closer still-to four sexy bachelors with secrets of their own...


In the "new" old south, pedigree and money still mean plenty...especially when you have neither. P.I. Charlotte deShawn and her friends Prissy, BrieAnna, and Bebe know all too well what it's like to be on the outside looking in, having grown up with more questions than answers about the parents they each lost at an early age. For Charlotte, enduring condescending looks and whispers only made her more determined to ignore social standing. So why should it be a problem when wealthy hotel owner Griff Parish wants to hire her to find the missing heir to his family fortune? Just because their chemistry is hotter than Georgia in August doesn't mean she can't be a pro about this. After all, they travel in completely different circles-or they did until now...

Griff's always had a thing for Charlotte, with her long red hair, big green eyes, and wild streak. Even the hefty chip on her shoulder only reminds him of how strong she is. Still, nothing's ever come of the attraction. Now, however, the temptation Charlotte represents is too close to ignore. True, Griff got himself into this fix. He could have hired a different detective agency-but that wouldn't have served his ends. He has damn good reason to keep Charlotte deShawn close, and it has nothing to do with her keen mind or her gorgeous body. Yeah, right. Falling hard for Charlotte wasn't part of theplan, but in Savannah, what you expect is just about never what you get...

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5.52(w) x 8.28(h) x 0.81(d)

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Copyright © 2008 Dianne Kruetzkamp
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7582-2359-3

Chapter One
Springtime in Savannah with pink, purple and white azaleas, magnolia blossoms the size of punch bowls and a warm breeze declaring winter never really happened at all. With things this perfect outside RL Investigations, how could it be so pitiful inside?

An empty in-box, an empty out-box, no phones ringing and-was that a spiderweb across the monitor? The online course said, "Imagine yourself a PI and you'll develop the instincts of one." Propping her feet on the oak desk like some gumshoe from a dime novel, Charlotte deShawn grabbed her coffee, and doughnut, and pictured a gray fedora and crumpled trench coat, as Griffin Parish III hustled into the office.

Dripping red jelly onto her white blouse, she stared at Savannah's primo bachelor. Next time she'd imagine a Porsche and being a size four. Jerking her legs from the desk, the chair reeled over, spewing coffee across the room.

"Sweet Jesus!" Griff hunkered down beside her sprawled body. "Are you okay?"

She faked a grin. Appearances mattered in Savannah no matter how painful or embarrassing the situation. "Caught me a little off guard is all." She scrambled to her feet and kicked doughnut shrapnel under the desk. This never happened in those dime novels. There it was a pack of Camels, a dark alley and a secretary named Trixie.

Griff loosened his tie and handed her a handkerchief. April in the Low Country was hot but not that hot. "I need some investigating done, and I need it to be kept private."

"In this town? Good luck." She paper-toweled the mess as he paced the office of metal file cabinets, two pleather club chairs and a percolator with a broken switch that did up the best coffee east of Bull Street. West of Bull, bragging rights went to Scrumptious Savannah, but the point was, Griff fit in as well as she did at his hotel. So why was he here?

"As much as I appreciate the business, you need to know that Daddy's the real investigator and he's laid up with a broken leg and I'm filling in and, truth be told, not doing all that great a job, as everyone realizes since I mistook Mr. Austin's visiting mother for his current mistress, though in my own defense, she was wearing pink spandex. So if it's something small, I can help, but if it's big, then-"

"I want you." His eyes met hers, and he didn't blink. She blinked a lot because she never expected to hear those three little words from Griff Parish's sexy mouth. For a split second, fifteen years of glances across crowded rooms and accidental-on purpose passing touches all came crashing together. She figured the two of them would go on secretly flirting forever. Urban sport, hunting and fishing city-style, except no one got caught or stuffed and mounted, though the mounted part crossed her mind a time or two.

"I suppose you've heard the conditions of Otis's will," Griff said, snapping her back to the moment with legal stuff about his stepfather while she contemplated sex and the single guy. Little wonder they never got together.

"Latest word from the kudzu vine is Otis bequeathed Magnolia House to you and Jaden Carswell, daughter of his old partner, who was murdered along with his wife twenty-five years ago, and your mama emptied a Thirty-eight Special into Otis's gravestone when she found out you weren't sole heir. Blew it to smithereens, marble chunks everywhere."

"Thirty years ago," Griff paced the other way, "the baby daughter was sent up east, but no one knows where she is now, and Camilla's in Tuscany. Her nerves are ..." His brow furrowed.


"I'm truly getting to hate that word." He ran his fingers through his thick black hair, making it not quite so perfect and a lot closer to tool-belt-and-T-shirt Griff Parish, restorer of historic treasures. Indiana Jones meets Casanova meets grits and pecan pie. "The bank along with my suppliers are getting antsy, with me not owning Magnolia House outright."

"But you managed to break the will-least, that's the latest buzz."

"I'm the one who started that buzz, and now I have to find this daughter without stirring up any more talk." He gave Charlotte an intent look. "The bottom line is, I need to buy her out so I can get on with business."

Okay, how was she supposed to say something with those big blue eyes focused straight on her? "Uh ... meaning no one will suspect you'd hire the likes of me when you have lawyers on retainer."

"I'll pay you well." He took a check from the breast pocket of his suit coat and handed it over. "This should cover your expenses."

Pay? Well? Her heart raced, blood pressure surged, and it had nothing to do with gorgeous Griff but more with his gorgeous bank account. "There is an abundance of zeros on this paper."

"It's settled then. You can start today, and I mean really today and not Savannah today, which can be anytime in the next month or two." He held out his hand to shake. "There is absolutely no breaking the will. God knows I've tried everything, and I do mean everything." He muttered, "I can't believe it's come to this."

She studied the check, thought of rent on the office, taxes, Daddy's no-insurance medical bills and her little white lie to him about how great the agency was doing. What was there to consider except she wasn't exactly Sam Spade? Heck, she could imagine Spade! "You got yourself a deal."

She took Griff's hand, their fingers and gazes meeting, her heart flipping even worse than it did in the chair.

"You sure you're okay? You look ... confused."

So much cash and maleness in one place was enough to confuse the stuffing out of any girl. She pulled her hand back and slapped the handkerchief in its place. "PI cover. I'm practicing."

"Terrific." Except his terrific sounded more like a good God, what have I gone and done! He headed for the door, calling over his shoulder, "I'll be waiting."

"But ... but ..." Griff was gone, his footsteps retreating down the hall, her pulse thumping to the cadence, a million questions humming in her brain about the case but the biggest question of all being, Why was she so fascinated by this guy? Always had been. She fanned herself with the check. "Holy Moses."

"Honey," said BrieAnna Montgomery as she backed into the room pointing through the open door. "I don't know who you're looking at, but the only thing Moses and the Biscuit have in common is one went and got the commandments and the other breaks them on a regular basis, and everyone around here knows who's who."

BrieAnna parked her perfect size six next to Charlotte's size twelve on the edge of the desk as they considered the doorway. "The man surely does deserve his name. Whenever I lay eyes on him walking off like that, I'm reassured Griff Parish has the finest butt in all Savannah. One yummy Southern Biscuit, just what every woman around here wants to sink her teeth into, especially you, since you're the one who went and gave him that name."

Together they exhaled an appreciative sigh over broad shoulders, tapered waist and superb ass. "I came up the front stairs to drop off these garden-tour flyers and saw him going down the back. So, what's his excuse for sneaking around and making you dribble jelly? Something a little ... clandestine, I hope? Finally? At last!"

Charlotte handed over the check. "Forget the hanky-panky eye roll. This is business, all business. Besides, we both know Camilla would rather her only beloved offspring be cloistered in a monastery than the Parishes have anything to do with the deShawns, and on this particular issue Griff seems content to honor his mama's wishes. Just last week, the woman tried to run me over with her Caddy right there on Abercorn. Tire tracks still on the sidewalk. I wonder what got me caught in the crosshairs of Camilla's Escalade?"

"A three-vodka gimlet lunch, no doubt." BrieAnna peered at the check and frowned. "What would make the Biscuit give you all this money?"

"My superior investigative skills, which he's in dire need of."

Prissy St. James floated into the office like springtime does Kate Spade, or at least a Kate knockoff. "Oh, now that is a hoot. You can't find your way around Target without getting lost. And did you know there are bare-chested, well-tanned and probably very well hung males in hard hats digging up Broad Street, and the good lunch tables at the Pirate House suitable for afternoon viewing will be taken if we don't get a move on? And why are you wearing coffee and jelly, Charlotte deShawn?"

"Less fattening than eating it, and they moved the shoe department at Target, so it wasn't my fault for getting lost."

BrieAnna flashed the check at Prissy. "Looky here. Charlotte's springing for lunch."

Prissy snagged the paper and gasped, dropping the check on the desk. She jumped back, losing her left shoe, and held out her arm to Charlotte. "Look, goose bumps. My goose bumps have goose bumps. Burn it! Burn that check, Char, right now, before it's too late. It's bad news!"

Charlotte snagged the paper. "It's signed, and the commas and periods are in the right places. This is alleluia and bless-the-man's-hide all rolled into one."

"And such a nice hide, too," Brie added as Priss pulled in a deep breath, her black eyes clearing. "You're right. It's me, all me. Sometimes I just get this ... feeling."

"Me, too, honey," BrieAnna sighed, hooking her arm through Charlotte's and handing Prissy her shoe. "Not having a date in three months can do that to a woman. Long time to be without some. We are so in need of lunch and those hard hats on Broad Street."

What the hell had he started, Griff wondered as he cut across Oglethorpe Square fighting the damn top button of his damn shirt to get it damn-well closed and colliding headlong with Daemon Rutledge. "Holy hell, if you're here, who's minding the hotel?"

"With some luck, not a new owner. So, did she take the case? Did you persuade her?"

"I think my checkbook did the persuading." Griff focused on the ever-present fresh red rose in his manager's lapel and remembered the red jelly on Charlotte's T-shirt about where her nipple would be. Nipple ... Charlotte ... Oh, damn! He tried to concentrate on the coffee smears instead of the jelly, like that was going to happen. "Let's hope her investigative skills are considerably better than her doughnut skills or this plan to keep things quiet and find Jaden is going to fly like an albatross."

"Your daddy's will sure did throw a monkey into the mix, all right. I've been at Magnolia House since Otis opened the doors and never expected he'd leave things brewing the way he did."

They crossed State, then rounded the corner to the hotel, yellow pansies spilling from flower boxes, wrought-iron porch and the brass and glass double doors twinkling in the sunlight. "I'm thinking Otis was cramming for finals. Afraid if he didn't give William's daughter her rightful share, he'd get a one-way ticket straight to swindler's hell."

"Seems to me that what happened in the past should stay where it belongs."

"Hell, all of Savannah is running around in the past. The place is one big time warp. Just look at this hotel. If the mortar on the back wall isn't crumbling, there's a new crack in the foundation. And who knows what's happening on the second floor with things moving around. Lee had his last picture taken here, and I think he decided to stay. Least he didn't bring his damn horse."

They helped the doorman unload luggage from a BMW idling in front, then Griff cut across the lobby to the back courtyard, making note of the smudge on the marble floor, a light out in the brass chandelier and the need to give the doorman a raise. Guests lunched under blue umbrellas, and he clued the waiters to water Mrs. O'Hara's martinis or she'd wind up face-first in her okra soup or maybe dancing on the table. Hard to tell which way she'd go.

Heading for the back alley by the ivied carriage house, Griff wondered how much longer he'd be in charge of the hotel. He'd worked at Magnolia House his whole life, lugging suitcases at twelve when they couldn't afford a real bellhop, or much other help for that matter. Griff Parish could scrub a tub, do up a bed and put mints on pillows with the best of them.

It hadn't been all that many years ago that Savannah teemed with gangs instead of tourists, the big old decaying homes with their wide verandas, winding stairways and high ceilings setting empty and selling for tax money. He thought of his seventh birthday, sitting on the steps of Lillibridge House playing Go Fish with Otis so the bulldozers couldn't tear the place down before they scared up a buyer. He and Otis saved more than one place that way-though Go Fish morphed into poker-but Magnolia House was always the prize, their lady. Griff intended to keep her, even if it took every blasted penny he had to buy Jaden Carswell's share and-

His neck snapped as someone grabbed his tie and yanked him inside the carriage house, the dark interior making it impossible to see who did the yanking.

"What the-," he gasped as the wood door clicked closed. He stumbled, his body flattening a woman's against the wall, giving him a soft landing that made the choking worth it. He caught the faint aroma of coffee and doughnuts as breasts swelled against his chest, his body reacting as if he hadn't had sex in months. Hell, maybe he hadn't. "Charlotte?" he croaked through a shrinking trachea. "We need to talk."

"Wish I could." He loosened his tie and gave a quick glance around the narrow hall, his eyes adjusting to the dim light. "Consider using a telephone?"

"Someone might overhear and I know you don't want that, and I was heading for my house to change and I saw you coming and ..." She took a deep breath, her face scrunched in question as she peered up at him. "So why did you really come to the office?"

"The will? The missing daughter? Keeping things quiet? Stop me if you've heard this before. You sure you didn't whack your head when you fell off that chair?"

Her breath came fast and was getting faster. Her eyes lit with fire-even in the dim light he could tell. "Why me?" she whispered, the implication having nothing to do with the case but with the two of them together now in this hallway after all these years of dancing around.

His brain refused to function, probably because the part of his anatomy below his belt was overfunctioning. "You run an ad in the yellow pages." Maybe. He had no idea about anything right now except Charlotte and wanting to kiss her and knowing he shouldn't. Things between them were complicated-always had been and getting worse by the minute. He studied her delicious mouth, wanting and waiting for his. Make that getting more complicated by the second, and if his plan worked, complicated would be a huge understatement and their lives would be totally fucked.

He touched Charlotte's cheek, her skin soft and smooth, as her body leaned into his, setting him on fire.

"We don't have an ad." She bit her bottom lip. "You're right, I should have phoned," she said with a shiver. "But we're here now." She yanked his tie again, bringing his face to hers, and she kissed him right on the mouth, her lips full and moist and delicious and opening. Did they have to open? Closed lips were a lot easier to dismiss, but this was not a dismiss, kind of kiss, especially since he'd wanted it for so many damn years he'd lost count.

She released his tie, her arms sliding around his neck as his tongue touched hers and he lost his mind. Dumbass!

Their tongues mated, and his hands dropped to her sweet round bottom, pressing her softness to his hardening dick. There'd always been an attraction between them, but this was pure jump-her-bones-and-do-her-right-now lust ... and he liked it more than he ever imagined.

She sucked his bottom lip into her mouth, the motion suggestive as hell as her legs parted, nesting his erection tight against her heat. God, she had great heat! He slid his hands into the waistband of her skirt, her firm rump fitting so well into his palms. His mind warped, there was a ringing sound ... no kiss or ass-grabbing had ever made his head ring before, especially to the tune of "Moon River" ... a Johnny Mercer song ... his favorite. Ah fuck! His cell!

It was like a bucket of freezing snow dumped on his head. The instant sanity kicked his gut-tightening lust through the goal post of are you out of your freaking mind. He stepped back, his vision clearing, his body in big pain from what it wanted but couldn't have.


Excerpted from HOT AND BOTHERED by DIANNE CASTELL Copyright © 2008 by Dianne Kruetzkamp. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Dianne Castell is an empty-nester who lives in Milford, Ohio, with her retired husband and spoiled cat. She's given up cooking and cleaning and writes hot, sexy, fun-filled stories for Kensington, Brava, and Harlequin American. Her only regret is she didn't do this years ago!

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Hot and Bothered 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One thing to say: there is nothing to see here. The characters are annoying, the story is poorly developed, the sex scenes? ...BLEH! save yourself some money and time.
Romance_rookie More than 1 year ago
Hot and Bothered is the first in a series of books that takes place in Savannah, Georgia. Four women who have been close friends since childhood are all somehow connected to the disappearance of the heir to a wealthy hotel owner. Griff, the wealthy hotel owner, hires Charlotte to find the missing heir. Charlotte is a private PI and with the help of her girlfriends begins to unravel more than just the missing heir. Charlotte finds herself in danger on more than one occasion and it is not just a coincidence. To complicate matters Griff and Charlotte have long since desired one another but never acted on that desire. Although now that Griff and Charlotte are spending more time together, it's getting increasingly harder to do. <br> Right away, Ms. Castell immerses the reader with "Southern Charm". It feels like the town of Savannah was created as its own character in the book. The customs and traditions of the people really come out in the writing. The characters' pasts are all intertwined and somehow connected to the mystery that Charlotte is trying to uncover. <br> I felt that the romance was the weaker part of the story because Charlotte and Griff have to share the spotlight with Charlotte's friends. And those friends are also involved in romantic entanglements. Therefore much of the romance between Griff and Charlotte felt secondary. However, I did enjoy Griff and Charlotte's interactions with each other. They are both fairly straight forward with their emotions - although I can't understand why they waited so long to act on their feelings for each other. It almost seemed like their relationship progressed too quickly over the course of the story to be believable especially in light of them not acting on their crushed for such a long time. <br> There is a continuing story arc that isn't quite resolved by the end of Hot and Bothered that will be carried into the next book in the series which is Hot and Irresistible. I have in the TBR and I'll probably get to it eventually.
QLady48 More than 1 year ago
"I LUVED this book!! It was a quirky read, but I couldn't put it down. It wasn't the usual contemporary romance. I am soo glad this was a set, I'm not ready to stop reading about these characters. I'm not sure exactly what sub-genre you would put this book in, it was funny, it had suspense, and mystery. Of course the hot romance is a given!! I am so glad I found this book and you will be to. It's a light read, nothing complicated about it. Sometimes you just want a fast easy read!! I'm on my way to the store to get the 2nd Hot book today!! I really wanted to give this book a 4 & 1/2. Thanks to Dianne for being another generous author. Sue"
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Savannah, Charlotte Deshawn and Griffin Parish III have known each other for years as both come from Old South family and money. They have been attracted to one another for a long time, but neither has acted on their most inner feelings beyond harmless teasing. Their circles have somewhat changed as he is a hotel magnate while she is a private investigator.--------------- Griff hires Charlotte to find Jaden Caldwell. Twenty-five years ago, then five years old Jaden¿s parents were murdered and she vanished. He and Jaden recently inherited Magnolia House. As they work the case, the kudzu grapevine spreads the word they are an entry because the attraction is thicker than Georgia pine pollen. Although threatened by an unknown adversary, Charlotte begins to uncover the identity of the lost child.--------------- This engaging romantic investigative tale with some paranormal elements stars strong lead and support characters including Savannah as Dianne Castell catches the essence of the city. Charlotte¿s inquiry is terrific as clues surface from various sources including eccentric ghosts while the resolution has fabulous final twist and a set up for a sequel. Readers will enjoy the well written kudzu private investigative romance.----------------- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hot And Bothered by Dianne Castell is a delightfully funny romance. _______________ Charlotte DeShawn has never really excelled at any job she has taken on but when her Dad falls ill she is determined to keep his PI company afloat. Charlotte is shocked when her male friend and life long crush Griff Parish enters her office with a job. She can¿t turn this job down for it would put them back in the black. Charlotte¿s friends know all about her crush on the town hottie and will help her anyway that they can. _______________ Griff Parish the 3rd is trying to come to terms with his father¿s passing. Besides having to deal with his grief he has the terms of the will to sort through. Seems his dad left part of the Magnolia House Hotel, that Griff has always run solo, to his late partners missing daughter. Griff figures he will hire the inept Charlotte to find his new partner all the while knowing once she fails the hotel will be all his again to run alone. ------------- This would have been a great theory if his attraction to Charlotte didn¿t keep getting in the way. Plus it seems there are people that don¿t want Charlotte to work on this case let alone find the missing daughter. When her life is threatened Griff will protect her at all cost. _______________ Hot And Bothered has it all. It¿s funny, all out sexy, a bit of suspense and a ghost or two along the way. The characters have such depth and feel like long lost friends. Charlotte and Griff¿s friends and their adventures add another fun and sexy layer to this story. This book is a beautiful blend of southern charm with a taste of mystery.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dianne has created another page-turner with characters you feel you¿ve known your whole life. The chemistry between rich hotel owner Griffin Parish III and P.I. Charlotte deShawn runs hot from the start. Prissy, Bebe and BrieAnna, Charlotte¿s friends provide fun secondary characters and the long-standing friendship they share endures and prevails through unusual twists throughout the book. The town of Savannah truly comes to life with the fantastic descriptions and interesting town folk. Lives in jeopardy at every turn and secrets best left in the past, bring Griff and Charlotte together. The chaos of finding the missing heir, solving a long ago murder and locating the MIA necklace, emanate a dark and dangerous backdrop for romance while the desire between Griff and Charlotte makes for hot nights in Savannah indeed. I truly look forward the other books in this series and recommend this book to everyone. This novel is a prime example of why Dianne Castell is on my auto-buy list.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dianne has penned another winner. This is the first of her trilogy on three friends set in Savannah, Georgia a city of mystery and intrigue and a sizzling story with the correct title.**********Charlotte deShawn is a P.I., who is taking over her father's business because of an accident that has put him on the sidelines for awhile. Only problem is business is slow.......but enter Griff Parish III and all that is about to change.**********Griff Parish III has always flirted with Charlotte all his life, but never was able to act on his feelings since there is always the social class difference. When Griff hires Charlotte to find an long-lost baby that he shares an inheritance with there are more obstacles than can be imagined. As the case escalates so does their feelings toward each other which goes from flirting to sizzling.**********Charlotte is surrounded by her best friends that she has had forever, and who are closer than sisters ever could be. All are drawn into the mystery that surrounds the missing baby, and why is someone out to kill or stop this investigation. What is it about the morgue, heirloom necklace that is missing and the missing baby that makes someone so desperate?**********Dianne has written an story that will keep you turning the pages as the mystery unfolds, and the heat index between Charlotte and Griff goes off the scales but there is also the funny times which we have come to know from the author. I was hooked from the first few pages and had a hard time putting the book down. I highly recommend this book and look forward to the next one in this series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Charlotte and her best friends, Priss, Bebe, and Brie, have known each other all their lives, brought together out of necessity to survive adolescence. Charlotte knows who Griff is, however they don¿t socialize in the same circles. Griff hires her to find the missing heir to the other half of his hotel and immediate sexual chemistry flares between them. Events happen in a domino effect, and Charlotte¿s friends are drawn into the mystery surrounding the missing heir, a missing heirloom necklace, and the old morgue. As a native Georgian, I have been anticipating this book for quite some time. Dianne Castell doesn't disappoint at all! As you are reading the words you can just picture how they would sound with a southern accent. She uses sayings and phrases common to this area. The four friends were portrayed perfectly as best friends who have grown up together and share everything ¿ closer than and more faithful than sisters. I loved the comedy written into every part of the book. I found myself cheering for the girls one minute and laughing out loud at their antics the next. Even the heroes had funny moments, and I can't wait to read the next book in this series.