This one was a challenge. I have read just about every kind of book at least once. I read non-romance all the time. Different setting?* Um, I have that covered. So I settled on the “something different” part of the challenge. I wracked my brain trying to think of something I hadn’t read. Other than a Chilton Manual, I could only think of one thing I hadn’t read yet: M/M or F/F romance. (I’m sure there’s something else out there I haven’t read, but, really, it’s gotta be a tiny list. Go ahead and try me, if you’d like)
I hadn’t intentionally avoided gay romance, but I think it’s good to look at the societal biases that affect all of those things that you do. . . .unintentionally. Scanning different genres made it clear that, whether intentional or not, I had avoided the gay romance subgenre.
I looked at several different books–some of which I’ve also added to my TBR pile of destiny–but, in the end, I settled on Damon Suede’s Hothead because I had heard so much about it. The last time I’d heard that much buzz about a book, it was Tiffany Reisz’s The Siren, another challenging book that was well worth the read. So, without further ado, my thoughts on Hothead:
This read was a difficult one for me, but not for the reasons you’re probably thinking. Oh mah gosh was this story angsty. Y’all. I wanted to take Griff, that giant of a firefighter, and pull into a hug–I’d have to stand on a chair–and tell him that it would all be okay if he would just tell Dante how he felt. The guy spent at least seventy-five percent of the book beating himself up and pining for a forbidden love, and it was positively heartbreaking. I say I wanted to tell him that it would all be okay, but his inner turmoil is 100% believable, and the fact of the matter is. . . . I don’t know what it would be like to be a man who’s in love with another man in a world that can be hostile at best or downright dangerous at worst. I don’t know what it’s like to have a second family so dear to me and to fear their rejection. I don’t know what it’s like to fear being beaten up or even killed just for being me. This is the reason why we read “different” things: to exercise our empathy muscles.
Now, lest you think Hothead is some kind of treatise on accepting gay marriage, no. It’s a romance. It’s a sexy, emotionally rough and tumble romance and an entertaining story to boot. I kinda feel like Paul Reiser talking about why heterosexual men like to watch lesbian scenes: “Because it’s naked and fun and I agree with both of them.” Seriously, the love story between Griff and Dante? It doesn’t get much better than that.
The sex scenes? Honestly, the sex sometimes veered a little too erotic for my tastes, but that’s cool and to be expected with a book that includes a porn site. I’ve read Reisz. I will read scenes that go farther than my tastes if I like the characters and the story, and I definitely liked the characters and the story of Hothead enough to push my own boundaries. I mean, I had no idea there were that many euphemisms for guy masturbation, but there you go. You learn something new every day.
So, there you go. Hothead is sweet. . . . and very, very spicy. Think Zach and Miri Make a Porno with two dudes kinda, sorta, not really. I already have Tere Michael’s Groomzilla in my stack. Anyone have a good F/F that I need to try? I hear tell Fiona Zedde has some tales to tell. Any other gaps in my reading habits? I can’t promise I’ll read them in a hurry because I tend to read what strikes my fancy when my fancy is struck, but I’m a liberal arts major and firmly believe in a broad base of study, so lay it on me.
*I’m also reading Jeannie Lin’s The Dragon and the Pearl because I haven’t read that many books set in China. I had read–and was pretty traumatized by–Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls, though, so I decided to read Hothead for this post. I’m totally digging The Dragon and the Pearl. Lin has a lovely prose and is taking me to a different world, and I’m so glad I finally picked up her book, too.