Warning: This book includes mature content such as: sexual content, and/or drug and/or alcohol use, and/or violence.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire...
Since 9/11, Brooklyn firefighter Griff Muir has wrestled with impossible feelings for his best friend and partner at Ladder 181, Dante Anastagio. Unfortunately, Dante is strictly a ladies’ man, and the FDNY isn’t exactly gay-friendly. For ten years, Griff has hidden his heart in a half-life of public heroics and private anguish.
Griff’s caution and Dante’s cockiness make them an unbeatable team. To protect his buddy, there’s nothing Griff wouldn’t do… until a nearly bankrupt Dante proposes the worst possible solution: HotHead.com, a gay porn website where uniformed hunks get down and dirty. And Dante wants them to appear there—together. Griff may have to guard his heart and live out his darkest fantasies on camera. Can he rescue the man he loves without wrecking their careers, their families, or their friendship?
Hot Head is a raw, honest and rough emotional roller-coaster! Suede definitely knows how to bring his characters to life, and share their struggles with those reading about them!
My Hot Head review:
Griff and Dante have been friends for ages, and Dante’s noisy, Italian family has been a home away from home for Griff since his teen years. After the twin towers were brought down, and Griff was looking for Dante everywhere in the ashes of the fallen buildings, his whole life seems different somehow. Being firefighters is how both Griff and Dante identify themselves on a very deep level, helping those in need, even putting their own lives in jeopardy is just what they do. And they are not exactly shy about the female attention it brings them either. Griff, however has been keeping a secret, and at the beginning of Hot Head, Dante wants to talk to him about something important. But the next morning, after too many tequilas Griff has no idea if they even had a talk at all. And it is clear to the reader that Griff’s feelings towards Dante are much more than friendship.
As Griff tries to figure out how to deal with being a gay firefighter, but still keep his best friend, he ventures out of Brooklyn in search of a bar where he might find like minded men. Hot Head then changes pace and becomes more intense, first because Griff sees someone he knows outside the bar, and also because Dante is acting more and more erratically. There is a lot going on in this story, some of it has to do with bigotry and what is expected of a manly firefighter, but it also has a lot to do with friendship, family, loyalty and how far some people are willing to go to make sure the person they care the most about in the world is happy.
Hot Head is not a sweet story, it is rather gritty, showing gay-bashing where one character is almost beaten to death. There is also a gay porn web-site where Dante finds himself showing off his fine self to make sure he can pay the bank for the next mortgage installment and won’t have to leave and move back with his parents. Through this dark universe, however, both Dante and Griff are characters that truly shine. Griff is so afraid of showing Dante his true feelings, not ever realizing that Dante just might feel the same way about him. And because the whole story unfolds from Griff’s perspective, there are many insights to Dante that were kept hidden from me because they were hidden from Griff. I definitely did figure out that Griff should just sit down and be honest with Dante, though, but the tension and the way these two wanted to protect both each other and themselves added a layer of beauty and light to this sombre tale.
The tight family connections with Dante’s parents and siblings made life bearable for Griff, and I think this is partly why he was so afraid of coming out of his tiny closet. Add to that all the times they heard depreciating comments about gay people from some of the guys they worked with, and it’s easy to understand why both of these seemingly strong characters decided to keep some things very close to the vest. While Hot Head did include a lot of darkness, there was also quite a bit of humor, the dialogues between Dante and Griff were very funny at times. And of course, there was plenty of hotness to go around as well.
Written in third person perspective, past tense, and from Griff’s perspective, Hot Head was the kind of story that gripped my heart tight and kept it squeezed for most of the time I was reading. I will definitely read more of Suede’s books in the future.
Some of my favorite Hot Head quotes:
“Fucking faggot!” Not a joke. This time Griff turned to look over the heads. A couple other guys from the firehouse were singing along with Dante. They hadn’t heard the trouble brewing, but if things got fugly, the bar would lose money. Griff didn’t want trouble.
Pretty soon, Griff was always eating at the Anastagios’, helping Mr. A with the gutters, carpooling with the brothers to parties or the beach, and eating out of that crazy overstuffed refrigerator. Finally, he wasn’t wishing for the imaginary family he’d always wanted – it had kidnapped him.
Dante chopped some twigs, and the licorice smell was strong. “The website’s whole gimmick is hot straight guys in uniform. Soldiers, cops, EMTs. I dunno, mailmen.” Dante’s olive brow wrinkled. “Does anyone fuck mailmen? Well, yeah where else do mailmen come from?” The twig bits went into oil in a pan.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge
- Bookish Resolutions Challenge 2015
- LGBT Challenge 2015
- Summer COYER 2015