Last week I discussed the novel Private Eye by S.E. Culpepper and how much I enjoyed it. My question was then, “can a woman write a gay romance”? I thought the book was great, but wanted the opportunity to read a gay romance written by a gay man and see if there is any difference in writing style/perspectives. This week, we investigate Damon Suede’s Hot Head.
Griffin Muir is a New York fire fighter whose best friend is fellow fire fighter, Dante Anastagio. Dante comes to him with a proposal to help save his fixer-upper home by working for a porn website. Can Griff help his best friend out and still keep his secret from Dante?
Based on the header of the book, I assume that this is the first in the Head series (hahahah, yeah, I know). There are two secondary characters that I can see being future leads, Alek Vaklanov (a sexy Russian) and Tommy Dobsky (a sweet, sweet man). I can see awesome story lines with both men (perhaps together?). I found this on the Goodreads book list for best Male/Male romance for 2011.
Griff grew up with the Anastagio family, a gregarious New York Italian brood who took him into their fold. I have to say that Griffin is possibly, one of my favorite male characters ever. He has self-confidence in his job and his friendship, but he is still shy and reserved with other people. Alek Vaklanov describes him:
“Because you are authentic, Mr. Muir. One hundred percent genuine. You don’t look like a stripper or a hustler or a criminal. You’re not pretty or groomed or juiced. You look like exactly what you are: a handsome American hero who doesn’t know his own appeal. And you are intensely appealing. That is most of the reason, anyways.”
Yes, we like bad boys like Dante, but there is something about a man who does not know his own appeal. He is a 6 foot 5 inch tall; marble skin-toned red-headed God, yummy.
This is one hot, aggressive, “Italian Stallion”. I love the way Mr. Suede describes Dante’s eyes:
Up close, an inch away, face to face, Griff realized for the first time that Dante’s eyes looked velvet black but had a slight green cast to them, like scarabs.. an emerald iridescence only visible from kissing distance.
But, it is not just his physical appeal which is striking, but his own insecurities illustrate that even the most confident men can be anxious in some things. I really enjoyed seeing the two guys get together and seeing how loving and attentive he is to Griff. But to just look at his outer package, is to limit him, and this book does not stereotype him. Dante is more than that, in fact, his devotion to Griff is immensely touching and I loved how ferociously protective and possessive he is at the end.
I believe that the theme is summed up by a quote from the novel:
“No one deserves to be punished for loving with an open heart.”
We have a story here about two men (Griff and Dante) who are both scared to embrace their love and chance to ruin their friendship. But they take the chance to love each other without any barriers.
Reading this book for the fourth time today, I specifically sought for items like social commentary or other things that made this book stand out from any of the other male/male novels I have read recently. This is not just a love story, but the author also observes tough topics like gay bashing and New York fire fighters experiences from 9/11. I loved so many quotes from this book; Mr. Suede has such an ability to paint a picture:
Whole stations were incapacitated, hearts broken on every block. Half the trucks went on antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds. There were 343 instant vacancies and more retiring daily. They’d all looked into the abyss and it kept right on looking back, window-shopping for damnation, it seemed.
I mentioned before that I sought to discover if there were any differences in this book to others written by female authors. I can see that one point is the ability to capture nuances of the male experience. An example:
Griff was a coward, but Dante had no fear and no shame. Hell, he’d flashed his pecker at his English teacher in high school just to hear her shout. Detention be damned. And everyone knew he always wandered around his house bare-assed; he’d been the same as a teenager.
What could be better?
Honestly, not much. I enjoyed the character development as well as the storyline. The only thing that I could wish was to see Dante’s point of view, all we get to see is Griff’s.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel; the storyline was compelling, the sex scenes hot and emotionally driven. But, what made this book even better than just a love story was it realistic looked at living in New York as gay fire fighters. The author dealt with serious issues like gay bashing and 9/11 without getting maudlin or overbearing.
This is a must read book.