Review & Giveaway: Hot in Hellcat Canyon by Julie Ann Long

Hot in Hellcat Canyon
Hellcat Canyon #1
Julie Ann Long
Avon Books

USA Today bestselling author Julie Anne Long launches a sexy new contemporary romance series set in Hellcat Canyon, California—where you can find whatever you’re looking for, whether it’s love...or trouble.

A broken truck, a broken career and a breakup heard around the world lands superstar John Tennessee McCord in Hellcat Canyon. Legend has it hearts come in two colors there: gold or black. And that you can find whatever you’re looking for, whether it’s love...or trouble. JT may have found both in waitress Britt Langley.

His looks might cause whiplash and weak knees, but Britt sees past JT’s rough edge and sexy drawl to a person a lot like her: in need of the kind of comfort best given hot and quick, with clothes off and the lights out.

Her wit is sharp but her eyes and heart—not to mention the rest of her—are soft, and JT is falling hard. But Britt has a secret as dark as the hills, and JT’s past is poised to invade their present. It’s up to the people of Hellcat Canyon to help make sure their future includes a happily ever after.

The front door swung open, and in came a gust of hot air and a whoosh of that early-morning, pine-and-sage-and-crushed-leaves perfume of the California foothills.

And a man.

They all went silent.

He was lean and tall—his head brushed the top of the door frame—and something about his posture made Britt glance at his hips. She wouldn’t have been surprised to see a holster slung there, as if they’d all been transported back to the Wild West and he was the fastest gun. He had that sort of presence.

He stood in the doorway a moment, adjusting to the cool dark.

“Any chance you folks serving lunch yet?”

His boots echoed on the floor as he slowly stepped forward into the light. Longish dark hair, nearly to his shoulders, pushed back behind his ears. Pale blue chambray shirt open at the throat and rolled to his elbows, worn loose over faded jeans. Something about the way his clothes fit his body told her he hadn’t bought any of them at Walmart. His stubble-darkened jaw could have been drawn with a protractor, so precise and severe were its lines. It was a face straight out of a daguerreotype. He had a sort of elemental beauty that smacked her in the solar plexus the way her first glimpse of Hellcat Canyon had.

“Maybe.” Giorgio had sized him up as not one of us, and better-looking than me, and defaulted to surly.

Britt shot Giorgio a quelling look.

A crashing sound and an oath in the kitchen heralded Glenn’s arrival.

“We serve it all day,” Britt corrected, as Sherrie slipped into the kitchen to see what her husband had knocked over.

The stranger came closer, tilting his head back to study the menu chalked on the board hanging horizontally behind Giorgio. try the glennburger! the sign always said. eight secret ingredients!

She and Giorgio watched him in uncertain silence, as if a bear had wandered in. Weeks could go by before someone they didn’t know by at least their first name crossed the threshold of the Misty Cat.

“Can you give me just a hint about the secret ingredients in a Glennburger?”

Giorgio slowly mopped beneath his armpit with a handkerchief. Britt had never seen anyone mop an armpit threateningly before, but it was happening before her eyes.

“Sweat,” he finally answered.

The stranger was regarding Giorgio with mild but unblinking curiosity that made the hair prickle on the back of Britt’s neck. As if nothing anyone did could surprise him, but if they tried, boy, would he be ready.

“That’s funny,” he said. “I was going to guess ‘love.’” It was a masterpiece of irony.

“It has onions,” Britt volunteered hurriedly. “Spices. Nothing . . . bodily.”

“Guess it’s one of those things where you have to know the Masonic handshake to get the recipe.”

It was meant to be a joke, but it fell into the vacuum of Giorgio’s hostility.

She suspected the stranger anticipated that it would. And didn’t care.

Britt shot Giorgio another look. She mostly understood his instinct to attempt to drive off interlopers, the way Jet the dog did. Most of the people who lived in Hellcat Canyon liked it the way it was, and strangers were reminders that if things were different elsewhere, they could change here, too.

But unkindness always got her back up.

Sherrie emerged from the kitchen—Glenn behind her—accurately assessed the situation and the stranger with wide, appreciative eyes, and then gave him a little pat, part pity, part motherliness.

“Why don’t you have a seat right over here, hon, and we’ll get the grill going. Britt will bring you something cold or something hot, whatever you need. If you try the Glennburger, you’ll never forget it.”

Enveloped in warm, easy Sherrie-ness, he did what he was told and settled himself beneath a window.

Britt was inclined to like people who flung things like “Masonic handshakes” into jokes. They were few and far between in a small town like Hellcat Canyon, though people here would surprise you. Everyone had their own reason for living here, often very personal or, even, like her own, as secret as the ingredients in a Glennburger. When she’d arrived she’d burrowed into the place like it was a blanket fort, deciding she’d found safety at last.

Though she was smart enough to know that safety was an illusion and that just calling it safety didn’t make it so. He sat down, leaned back with a sigh, and stretched out those long legs as though he’d been walking on them for miles. His boots were dusty and a bit creased, but gorgeous in their simplicity. They looked as though he’d owned them forever and had probably cost more than the land the Misty Cat Cavern sat on.

He plucked up the menu wedged between the napkin holder and the little Tabasco bottle and fanned it open.

“What can I get for you?” she said briskly.

“Well, I think I’ve already had the something cold,” he said in a confiding, lowered voice to Britt, with a tilt of his head in the direction of Giorgio. “And I guess that would make you the something . . .”

He trailed off again at whatever he saw in her face. “Well, I’ve been driving all night, and it feels like lunchtime, so I think I’ll have a beer,” he said. Sounding amused. “A Sierra Nevada. The Stout.”

“Sierra Nevada Stout.” She didn’t write it down.

“And I’ll try the hamburger. Excuse me, the Glennburger. With all of the ingredients, secret and otherwise. Medium rare.”

“Do you want cheese?” she asked.

“The cheese isn’t secret?”

“No. A bit enigmatic, maybe.”

He smiled at that, slowly, with genuine pleasure, and held her gaze a little longer than necessary. His eyes were a startling crystalline blue. She was reminded of rivers dashed into foam over rocks, and just like that, she was as breathless as if she’d dived into the icy snowmelt runoff of the Hellcat.

She mentally smacked away a surge of want as if it were a fanged predator. That kind of want hadn’t breached her defenses in a long, long time.

She steeled her gaze to impassivity.

His gaze turned quizzical and then faintly amused; then he dropped his eyes casually to the menu again. Which she was happy about, because then she could stare at him unguarded. His shirtsleeves were rolled nearly to his elbows. His forearms were tanned gold and corded and dusted in coppery hair. His fingers were long and elegant but the hands looked well used; an old pale scar traversed one. A musician, or a carpenter, maybe. A narrow streak of silver threaded up through his black hair where he’d pushed it behind his ear.

A circlet of tiny, neat black words was tattooed on his wrist: “It has been a beautiful fight.”

He closed the menu. “I’ll have cheddar on it, then. And I have another question.”

“Ask away!” she chirped.

He leaned casually back then, arms folded across his chest, and looked up at her for a moment without speaking. Then his mouth quirked wryly, as if to say, Now, we both know chirpiness isn’t your real personality.

She gave him her blankly bright waitress face.

“Why is this place called the Misty Cat Cavern?” He said this with great gravity.

His voice was a visceral pleasure: deep, almost lazy, a bow drawn at leisure across a cello string. She thought she detected something Southern in the way he took his time with the vowels. It was a little too easy to imagine how he might sound right after he opened his eyes in the morning, when his sheets were still warm and the sun still just a suggestion of light at the top of Whiplash Peak. “Well, from what I understand, the previous owner— Earl Holloway?—was falling-down drunk when he ordered the sign over the phone about thirty years ago. Apparently the guy on the other end swore Earl had said ‘Misty Cat Cavern’ and refused to make him a new one.

Earl couldn’t afford another sign. He about threw a fit but he hung it. It’s the only neon sign on the whole street.”

“What did he mean to call it?”

“The Aristocrat Tavern.”

The stranger laughed, sounding surprised and genuinely delighted.

What a great laugh. She wanted to dive into that, too. “I’ll be back with your beer,” she said, and spun like someone fleeing.

“A star herself in the historical-romance world, Long makes a flawless transition into contemporary romance with a wonderfully sweet yet also intensely sexy love story that brilliantly showcases her deliciously sharp sense of humor and rare gift for creating realistically quirky, wonderfully engaging characters.”
— Booklist, Starred

“Bestseller Long [...] has a brilliant, quirky style that gives her first contemporary a delightful gleam. Her clever phrases make her small-town setting and characters seem fresh and new. [...] This laugh-out-loud treat is warmly emotional and richly satisfying.”
— Publishers Weekly, Starred

“Long’s ability to create a love story that leaps off the page is as impressive as her characters are likable and dynamic. Let’s hope she keeps cranking them out for a long time.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“A mash-up of celebrity drama and small-town quirkiness, perfectly timed comedic dialogue and a balance of truly romantic tenderness are all hallmarks of Long’s Pennyroyal Green books, and it turns out that those things work really well in a contemporary American West setting, too.
— RT Book Reviews, 4.5 Stars, Top Pick!

“Julie Anne Long’s books are sexy and adorable!”
— New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis

“Julie Anne Long’s writing glows with emotional intensity and strong, passionate characterization.”
— New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jayne Ann Krentz

“Funny, sexy, heartwarming, Long moves seamlessly into the contemporary market.”
— New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lori Wilde

“Sizzlingly smart! Long’s fresh new contemporary voice rocks!”
— New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Susan Andersen

I always wonder what's going to happen when a author moves from historical to contemporaries. Some do it well, others not so much. I'm glad that Julie Ann Long did. I really enjoyed her Hot In Hellcat Canyon. It's not that I don't like reading historical's, I do, it's just that I'm very picky with them so it's hard to find ones I like. More and more lately I don't even try.

I think it's more that I'm burnt out right now with them. But contemporaries, I'm into at the moment. Which means I can now try Long.

I did have a little problem getting into it but that only lasted the first chapter. I'm not sure why? I just figure it was me. And since but chapter two I was enjoying it....

You will love the little town of Hellcat Canyon. It's full of fun wonderful characters that will make you laugh.

At first I wasn't sure what I would think of J.T., I'm not really in to rock stars or actors as hero's and heroine's in my books. But I found J. T. to be so sweet and lovable. He was very down to earth and real. I loved how the town reacted to him and how he reacted to them. He might be a crazy flirt, but I think that covers for a person that wants to please people and make them happy.

Britt on the other hand was a harder nut to crack. I wasn't at first sure how I thought about her. Might be why I didn't care for the beginning of the story. Soon I got her number too. She puts up walls to hide the real her.

As a couple these two are so good together. You really want them to find their happy-ever-after.

I really enjoy them and everyone of Hellcat Canyon (love the name and can't say it enough). I will be keeping my eyes out for Wild at Whiskey Creek which is out November 29th!

If you've read Hot in Hellcat Canyon or any other book by Julie Ann Long I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for visiting with me and happy reading!

USA Today bestselling author JULIE ANNE LONG originally set out to be a rock star when she grew up (and she has the guitars and fringed clothing stuffed in the back of her closet to prove it), but writing was always her first love. Since hanging up her guitar for the computer keyboard, her books frequently top reader and critic polls and have been nominated for numerous awards, including the RITA, Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice, and The Quills, and reviewers have been known to use words like “dazzling,” “brilliant,” and “impossible to put down” when describing them. Julie lives in Northern California.


  1. I just picked this up and it's next on my TBR. I'm really looking forward to it. Glad you liked it.

    1. It's a very fun book. You'll really enjoy it. Let us know what you thought of it.


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