I will not be comparing this book to Hot Head, because, believe it or not, I didn’t read Hot Head. Nor anything else by Damon Suede. So if you’re looking for a review that tells you if this book is as good as Hot Head, look elsewhere. If you want to know what a Suede-newbie thinks of this book, here it is.
I gave this three stars. Meaning I liked it but I didn’t love it. Why? The main reason is that during the first 80% I could have put this book down and never picked it back up. I felt no urge to find out how Trip and Silas were going to make it work. If fact, when I put it down at 19% the first time I didn’t pick it back up for weeks. If I hadn’t -kinda- promised I would write a review I might still have been stuck there. That first 80% was interesting, funny and reasonably well written, but it felt a whole lot like watching a NC-17 Seinfeld marathon, complete with running gags, NYC attitude, a main character who self-sabotages all his relationships, endless meandering conversations and a prominent place for the dysfunctional-but-not-really group of friends. Nothing wrong with an episode or two of Seinfeld, but not something I’d binge on by choice.
Around 72% I was wishing we would get to the Big Stupid Misunderstanding already that I was sure was just around the corner, so I could finish. Because, really, my interest was waning rapidly. But lo and behold, the Big Misunderstanding wasn’t that stupid and not really a misunderstanding and the book finally took off! Once in a while you get a book that just works better when the main characters are apart and miserable. Silas and Trip’s emotions rang much more true in this section and, with the exception of a few eye rolls (see next to last paragraph), I had no problem finishing the book and finally felt somewhat invested in their couplehood.
While the story has depth and felt like it was constructed of something more solid than the poster board many other romances seem so fond of using, I had issues. Some big, some small. Among the smaller ones was the pervasive use of onomatopoeia or sound effects. They were everywhere! When a pencil taps ‘tap-tap-tap‘, when putting on a velcro belt 'ka-klamp, klamp‘ and, yes, even when shooting a load. Apparently that sounds like ‘thwit-thitit-thwit‘. Is this a fight the editor fought and lost, or didn’t they notice? I also got really tired of the approximately 57 different synonyms used for ‘dick’, and the fact that the female sidekicks, while cool, were pretty much interchangeable.
More problematic was Cliff’s character. The way he is portrayed in the story makes it completely unbelievable that Trip has been carrying a torch for him for four years, because he is a reprehensible slime ball from beginning to end. In the first chapter we are told that Trip spends every weekend with him, but apparently that comes to a complete stop at that point, because afterward we never see them spending any time together outside of the office. If it does come to a complete stop, that would be an important development that is bound to cause anxiety for Trip and needs to be touched on. If it doesn’t, then that is important too, because how does their friendship change when Silas comes on the scene? Really, where is this so-called friendship that has held Trip in thrall for so long? Right now, Cliff is like Emperor Palpatine, unlovable and irredeemable and only there to be evil to offset Silas’s goodness.
If Cliff is the evil Emperor then all the other secondary characters are Yoda. I have never seen so many sages in one book. Everyone is ready with deep and meaningful advice at all times, but especially during the time when Silas and Trip are apart. It gets ridiculous, really. And if it isn’t bad enough that we have at least 6 grown ups spouting relationship wisdom, the one and only kid in the book is the 9 year old lovechild of Woody Allen and Dr Phil. It’s really annoying how precocious kids in m/m books tend to be and this kid is right up there with that one in Bear, Otter and the Kid. I am on my second time around the block with a 9 year old myself this year, people. And, adorable as he is, the only thing he’s exceptionally good at is leaving a trail of mess everywhere he goes and arguing about his chores and the fact that as a future zookeeper/scientist he doesn't see the point in learning multiplication and division. The wisest thing I’ve heard him say in recent months is that our backyard may actually be too small to keep a horse in. Between him, his brother, and every single one of their friends I have never heard any of them express any interest in any grown up’s love life. Let alone give them advice.
So, I am probably going to give Hot Head a try, because this was likeable enough even if it didn’t reach its full potential. Especially since some nice person just lendled Hot Head to me. But I hope it doesn’t take as long to get to the good part.