By Nancy Holder (2004)
RATING: 3/5 Stakes
SETTING: Buffy Season 7 (mostly)
T.V. CHARACTER APPEARANCES: Buffy, Lilah Morgan, Jhiera, Angel, Spike, Fred, Gunn, Wesley, Xander, Dawn, Willow, R.J., Principal Wood, Anya, Lorne, Nathan Reed, Willy, Connor, Landok
MAJOR ORIGINAL CHARACTERS: Lir (other-dimensional demon); Qin (warlord); Xian (Qin's consort); Fai-Lok (Qin's sorceror); Sam Devol (student cultist)
Heat is a Buffy/Angel crossover novel set late in each series' run. The plot involves an immortal, body-jumping Chinese warlord's attempt to set free a massive other-dimensional demon incarnated in dragon form. The story is actually more complex than most, as the "bad guys" are divided into multiple factions: the warlord's consort is planning to betray him by joining up with the court-wizard, the other-dimensional demon has its own plans, etc. Suffice it to say, Buffy and Angel and their respective crews get involved when a travelling display of terra-cotta soldiers hit museums in Sunnydale and Los Angeles.
The continuity in Heat is very strong and incorporates several details from earlier seasons. Holder has a good sense of the cast members' personalities, but has a thing for in-jokes (like referencing Nathan Fillion of Firefly fame, the band who does the theme song for Angel, etc.) which, depending on how you look at it, is either clever or a bit annoying. Anyway, I can't say the story itself is particular novel: medium bad guys trying to summon/raise/create apocalyptic bad guys has been done to death in the Buffyverse. Still, the various evil-doers do have decent personalities and the heavy use of the single-episode character Jhiera spices things up. Unfortunately, the worst part of Heat (much like Holder's Queen of the Slayers) is the incredibly botched ending: it simply seems rushed to completion in a wholly unsatisfactory way.