3.9 13
by Elizabeth Hoyt writing as Julia Harper, Julia Harper

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For four years, play-by-the-rules bank teller Turner Hastings has brooded over her uncle's wrongful imprisonment. But when two bumbling crooks stumble into her branch (barely disguised in Yoda and Sponge Bob masks) and hold up the place, she sees a chance to do something she's never thought possible: get revenge. She takes advantage of the melee to pull a heist of her


For four years, play-by-the-rules bank teller Turner Hastings has brooded over her uncle's wrongful imprisonment. But when two bumbling crooks stumble into her branch (barely disguised in Yoda and Sponge Bob masks) and hold up the place, she sees a chance to do something she's never thought possible: get revenge. She takes advantage of the melee to pull a heist of her own, seizing info from a security box that will exonerate her uncle.

Sent to investigate a bank robbery in small town Wisconsin, Special Agent John MacKinnon discovers the robbers were two not-quite-so-bright thugs and one woman. Now, Turner is on the run. With SA MacKinnon on her trail, she's breaking into the bank president Calvin's house, kidnapping his Great Dane, and for the first time in her life, setting out to break a few rules. But when Calvin hires a hit-man, MacKinnon will have to decide between his career--and saving Turner.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

When two local yokels rob the First Wisconsin Bank of Winosha, part-time teller and town librarian Turner Hastings seizes the opportunity to pull her own heist, dumping the contents of the bank president's safety deposit box into her purse before going on the run. No-nonsense FBI Special Agent John MacKinnon is on the case, though this pursuit proves to be more frolic-and-giggle than cloak-and-dagger. Turner isn't really a thief, she's just determined to prove that Calvin Hyman, the politically ambitious bank president, has been embezzling from the bank for years-and not, as Hyman has testified, her late uncle Rusty. Turner's days on the lam assume a Thelma and Louisequality-in which Louise is a rescued Great Dane-as she roams Wisconsin's back roads in a borrowed Chevy pickup, playing cat and mouse games with MacKinnon. Keeping touch by phone, the cop and crook become increasingly intrigued by each other; soon, however, the plucky librarian is in the sights of another, more dangerous opponent, and MacKinnon finds his professional demeanor slipping as his role shifts from man hunter to bodyguard. Lively humor, an enterprising heroine, creative plot twists and a nail-biting finale make Harper's debut a worthwhile romp. (Jan.)

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From the Publisher
"Fast paced and funny, this novel reads like Janet Evanovich crossed with The Sopranos. It's full of zany characters in a book-long car chase. Though bullets fly, snow falls and babies cry, you will be giggling as you cruise through the plot twists. It's a fun way to pass a rainy afternoon."—RT Book Reviews on For the Love of Pete

"Harper offers one fast-paced, funny, and sexy little romance."—Booklist on For the Love of Pete

"Elizabeth Hoyt's historicals are hot, and her contemporaries deserve the same label. This is a great novel."—Eloisa James, New York Times bestselling author, on For the Love of Pete

"Yes, Hot is certainly the right word to describe this sizzling contemporary romance."—Fresh Fiction

"Hot covers all the must-have ingredients for an unforgettable story: great characters you enjoy, a story that grabs your interest, and the much needed chemistry between the couple that keeps us frantically turning the pages. Hot is a refreshing, funny, tug-your-heartstrings read that deserves a Perfect 10 from me!—Romance Reviews Today

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Grand Central Publishing
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Read an Excerpt


By Julia Harper Forever
Copyright © 2008
Nancy M. Finney
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-446-61917-2

Chapter One In Turner Hastings' opinion, the bank robbery didn't go truly bad until Yoda shot out the skylight. Which was not to say that the robbery hadn't had its problems up until that point.

It started out as a typically busy Saturday. Turner was working the drive-through teller station, peering out the bullet-proof glass at the customers in cars. It was almost noon-closing time for the First Wisconsin Bank of Winosha. Nasty old Mr. Johnson had just pulled up and begun fumbling with the plastic canister in the pneumatic tube when she heard the commotion behind her. She glanced over her shoulder in time to see two men rush the bank counter.

One was tall and spindly in that way some guys are. The kind of skinny where you can't help but wonder what, exactly, is holding up their jeans because they have no rear end to speak of. He was wearing a black Eminem T-shirt and a Yoda mask, and clutching a sawed-off shotgun in an uncertain way, as if he'd never held one before. The second man was short and hairy. He had the thick black stuff growing on his arms, the backs of his hands, his fingers, and of course, his chest. Unfortunately, he'd chosen to wear a yellow mesh tank, which only served to highlight all that abundance of fur. Perhaps he'd wanted to coordinate with the cheery yellow of his SpongeBob SquarePants mask. He held his shotgun with a bit more knowledge than Yoda, but under the present circumstances, that wasn't nearly as reassuring as it should have been.

"This is a floor! Everybody on the stickup!" SpongeBob screamed in a disconcertingly hoarse voice, little tube-socked SpongeBob legs swinging back and forth on the mask.

Everyone in the small bank paused, trying to digest those two sentences. Turner opened her mouth, thought better about it, and shut it again.

Marge, the only customer inside the bank if you didn't count the robbers, had no such inhibitions. "This is a stickup. Everybody on the floor."

And you really couldn't fault her, because she was right. Marge was short and bottom-heavy and wearing turquoise stretch capri pants with a big T-shirt that had glittery pink and orange flamingos on it. She was in her late fifties, which was an age, as she liked to tell anyone who'd listen, when she no longer had to put up with guff from men or boys.

Her correction seemed to make the robbers irritable.

"On the floor! On the floor! On the floor!" Yoda yelled redundantly, the mask's little sticky-out ears flapping.

Turner flattened herself to the floor behind the counter because, really, it seemed to be a good idea.

But that only made SpongeBob upset. "No, dickhead! They'll hit the police alarm back there," he told Yoda. "We need to get them out here in the lobby."

"Okay. Yeah. Okay," Yoda said. "Come on out here, then get on the floor."

Turner crawled out after Ashley, the other Saturday teller. Ashley was looking peeved. Before the robbery had started, she'd been talking about her new leaf-green summer pantsuit. She'd found it on sale at the Wal-Mart up in Superior, and she obviously wasn't too thrilled to be crawling in it now.

Behind Turner at the window, she could hear Mr. Johnson's tinny voice through the speaker. "Can I have that in fives? No, better make it ones. And I need some quarters, too, for the washing machines up at the Spin 'n' Go. Make sure they're nice new ones. Last time you people gave me a bunch of sticky change."

Those inside the bank were all out in the lobby now. Turner lay on her belly and contemplated the manure-brown floor tiles. They needed mopping. Typical. Calvin Hyman, the bank president, who naturally wasn't working on a Saturday and thus wasn't in danger of having his head blown off-more's the pity-had saved money by cutting the cleaning to once a week.

"Here." A black plastic garbage bag was thrust in front of Turner's nose. "Fill this with, like, money."

She squinted over her glasses at SpongeBob. Did he realize that in order to ...?

"We're going to have to get back up to fill those," Ashley said, loud, exasperated, and nasal. "Why'd you make us come on out here and get down on the dirty floor if-ow!"

Ashley stopped talking to glare at Turner, who'd just kicked her in the ankle.

"Shut. Up," Turner hissed.

"Don't you go telling me to shut up, Turner Hastings. If you think-"

"Ashley, honey," Marge interrupted from her spot on the floor next to Turner, "just get the nice bank robbers their money."

Good idea. "I'm going to stand up and go get the money, okay?" Turner said to the robbers to give them plenty of warning. She didn't want to make them any more nervous than they already were.

"Yeah, yeah, okay. Hurry up," Yoda answered. She noticed for the first time that the mask's right ear had a tear in it. It'd been Scotch-taped back together.

Turner stood. She took the garbage bag gingerly and walked back behind the counter with Ashley. Behind them, Marge stayed on the floor. It sounded like she was muttering about dirt and men. Turner hit the release on her teller drawer.

Mr. Johnson's scratchy voice was still complaining. "Hello? Hellloooo? What's taking so long? I ain't got all day here, you know-some people have work to do."

Ashley huffed at her counter teller station and pulled out wads of cash.

Turner put a bundle of twenties into her bag and glanced carefully at the big round wall clock-11:56. Fudge. Ashley's boyfriend, Doug, came to pick her up for lunch every Saturday. And Ashley's boyfriend just happened to be a-

"Cop!" SpongeBob squeaked.

"What? Where?" Yoda swung around to look, his shotgun going with him.

Sheriff's Deputy Doug Larson pushed open the tinted glass doors of the bank and paused. The little silver star on his khaki uniform winked in the sunbeam streaming in from the big skylight. His Smokey-the-Bear hat had always seemed a little too big on him to Turner's eye, but that might've been because Doug had such a little pinhead. If you looked at him sideways, the back of his skull was totally flat. Something had to be wrong about that. A ludicrous expression of horror flooded Doug's face, and Turner could almost hear the Oh, shit.

Then Doug drew his gun.

Turner decided to duck behind the counter at that point, so she didn't actually see Yoda shoot out the skylight, but she did hear the BOOM! of the shotgun and the subsequent tinkling as glass rained down on them all.

Beside her, Ashley was whimpering, but that soon turned to a shriek. "Doug!"

Oh, Lord, thought Turner. Please don't let Doug be dead.

Then Ashley's hollering continued. "Doug! Dougy! Don't leave me! Goddamnit, Doug Larson, see if I ever let you take me out to the Ridge again!"

Turner blinked at that information slip. The Ridge was the local makeout spot. She chanced a look over the counter. Doug, as Ashley had already indicated, was nowhere to be seen. Smart man. He'd probably calculated the odds and gone looking for some backup. Or at the very least, a bigger gun. Meanwhile, Yoda and SpongeBob were still milling in the lobby. Yoda's right ear was dangling from the mask now. Evidently, the Scotch tape hadn't survived the excitement.

"What the hell did you do that for, you douchebag?" SpongeBob yelled. "Why didn't you shoot at the cop instead of the ceiling?"

"Hey, I was trying," Yoda said. "It's not as easy as it looks to aim a sawed-off shotgun-"

"Yes, it is!" SpongeBob retorted. And BOOM!, he shot out the front doors.

My, wouldn't Calvin just be miffed when he saw that? Turner's ears were ringing, and the bank filled with the acrid stench of gunpowder.

"Shit," Yoda muttered. "That's not fair. You've had way more practice, dude."

SpongeBob had turned away to shoot the doors. In doing so, he'd revealed a stunningly lush growth of back hair.

"Ew," Marge said from the floor, which pretty much summed it up.

"Fish!" Ashley yelled.

SpongeBob jumped as if someone had poked him in the butt. He swung around to stare at Ashley.

"You're Fish!" Ashley was waving a bubble-gum-pink fingernail at him, apparently unaware that it wasn't a good idea to identify a bank robber when he was actually in the process of robbing the bank. "I'd know that hairy back anywhere. I spent an entire year sitting behind it in sophomore social science. You're Fish."

"Am not!" SpongeBob said, confirming for everyone present that he was indeed Fish.

Wonderful. Turner grabbed Ashley's plastic garbage bag from her.

"Hey-!" Ashley started.

Turner shoved both bags at Yoda and SpongeBob. "Here."

"What are you doing?" Ashley shrieked.

Turner ignored her. She enunciated very carefully to the robbers. "Take the money. Run away."

Yoda lunged convulsively, grabbed the bags of money, and galloped out what was left of the front door. He was followed closely by SpongeBob.

"Can I get off the floor now?" Marge asked plaintively.

Outside, a car with a bad muffler roared away.

"I guess so," Turner replied. She looked around the little bank. Calvin's manure-brown floor was covered in sparkling glass, and a hot August breeze was blowing through the skylight and doors. Hard to believe that ten minutes ago it had been a normal Saturday.

"What'd you do that for?" Ashley demanded, fists on discount Wal-Mart hips. "You just handed them the cash. What kind of First Wisconsin Bank employee are you?"

"A live one," Turner replied.

Ashley looked disgusted. "At least I got one of those ink bundles into my bag."

Turner stared. "You did?"

"Yeah, why?" Ashley asked aggressively.

Turner just shook her head and went to the drive-through window. "I'm sorry, Mr. Johnson, the bank's closed now."

Sirens wailed in the distance, getting closer.

"Why, of all the-" Mr. Johnson began, but Turner switched off the speaker.

There was a squeal of tires from out in front and then the rapid slamming of car doors.

"Looks like the cavalry's arrived," Marge said to no one in particular.

"Come out with your hands in plain sight!" Sheriff Dick Clemmons's voice bellowed, amplified by the speaker on his squad car.

"Oh, for Pete's sake," Turner muttered. It hadn't been a good day so far, and she was getting a little cranky. She walked to the doors and peeked through broken glass. Outside, two Washburn County sheriff's cars were skewed dramatically across Main Street. Predictably, a crowd had begun to gather behind them.

"They're gone," she said.

"What?" Sheriff Clemmons boomed, still using the speaker.

"They're gone!" Turner yelled.

"Oh." There was a crackle from the speaker, and then Dick stood, hitching up his black utility belt. The sheriff was a tall man with a sloping belly, and the belt had a tendency to slide below it. He looked a little disappointed. "Anyone hurt?"

"No," Turner replied in her best repressive librarian voice. She held open what remained of the shot-out bank door.

Dick strode up the walk in an I'm-in-charge kind of way, trailed by Doug, who still looked a little spooked. Turner couldn't blame him. It wasn't every day that a man got shot at by a Jedi Master.

The sheriff stepped inside the bank and squinted around. "Okay, now-"

"Doug Larson!" Ashley had caught sight of her boyfriend.

Doug sort of hunched his shoulders.

"Of all the low-down, ratty things to do," Ashley began.

"Now, honey," Marge interrupted. "You can't go blaming the boy for not wanting to be shot just so you wouldn't ruin a pantsuit from Wal-Mart."

"But he left me!" Ashley wailed, tears running down her cheeks along with a bunch of black mascara.

Marge began patting, Doug started explaining, and Sheriff Clemmons became authoritative. Then the paramedics arrived, crunching over the floor with equipment nobody needed. Two more deputies appeared, as did the volunteer fire department, most of whom had probably heard about the robbery over their scanners and wanted in on the action.

Turner watched all the people running around, talking, arguing, taking notes, getting in each other's way, and generally trying to look important. She thought about how easy it would be to rob the bank right at that moment when everyone was so very busy. She glanced at the surveillance camera in the corner, dumbly taping everything within the bank. Then she strolled to Calvin's big fake mahogany desk and pulled out the middle drawer. There, sitting in plain sight, was the red paper envelope that held the key to his safe deposit box. She stared at it. She'd never have another chance like this one. She knew because she'd been waiting for this moment for four years. Turner smiled a small, secret smile and palmed the key.

It was time for her own heist.


Excerpted from HOT by Julia Harper Copyright © 2008 by Nancy M. Finney. 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

Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing "mesmerizing." She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.

The winters in Minnesota have been known to be long and cold and Elizabeth is always thrilled to receive reader mail. You can write to her at: P.O. Box 19495, Minneapolis, MN 55419 or email her at:

You can learn more at:
Twitter @elizabethhoyt

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Hot 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fast paced romance with a fun light humor throughout
bravewarrior More than 1 year ago
MMP/Romance: This is a cute book in the style of Jennifer Crusie with the comedy of errors mixed with a serious plot. This book has bumbling bank robbers, a lonely but hot hero, and funniness abound. The book starts off with a shot and slows down for a while to get t h e setting going. Then it picks up again. It's a quick read after you get started. I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway for an honest review.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
i love this book...i'm not the type who like to read but this book just made me wish there was a series!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was a great read and every page had you wanting more
Guest More than 1 year ago
As an avid reader, I have the enjoyed Stephanie Plum series, Lisa Scotoline's series. But HOT is so funny, it's definately a page turner. The characters are great, the story unique. It's a must read. You can't help but find the bank robbers funny.
harstan More than 1 year ago
When the First Wisconsin Bank of Winosha, Wisconsin is robbed by Yoda and SpongeBob SquarePants, part-time teller and librarian Turner Hastings sees the chaos as a chance to steal the items the bank president Calvin Hyman has locked away in his safety deposit box. She expects to find proof that odious ambitious Hyman is embezzling money from the bank. Under oath Hyman accused Turn¿s Uncle Rusty of committing the crimes that he was arrested and convicted for.------------- After capturing the two idiots in the masks, FBI Special Agent John MacKinnon pursues Turner who he assumes is a chip off her uncle¿s block. As she flees on the back roads of Wisconsin accompanied by Hyman¿s Great Dane that he says she kidnapped while she insists she saved, the cop follows her. As they talk by cell phone, an attraction begins to form. John, who never let anyone get away, soon finds himself protecting his beloved enemy from a professional hired by Hyman who wants her dead before she use what she found.---------- For most of this delightful crime caper, the story line is fast-paced and jocular as John begins to change his mind about the felon he pursues. Impish tantalizing Turner and stalwart jocular John have always adhered by the rules, but in their cat and mouse frolic across rural Wisconsin, all the regulations are broken. Filled with terrific twists, fans will appreciate Julia Harper¿s HOT thriller.------------ Harriet Klausner