Buy Link: Hot Hands
Author: Erica Pike
Publisher: No Boundaries Press
Length: Short Story

Rating: 3.75

College student Casper has recently acquired a groper.  Some mystery man has been grabbing a feel of Casper’s ass all over campus, but he has yet to figure out who it is.  Every time Casper turns around, the guy is gone. Even once they hook up in a quiet classroom, the groper blindfolds Casper and ties his hands to help protect the secret. Rather than being freaked out, Casper is actually turned on by the guy he has dubbed Hot-Hands.

Even with the thrill of the secret admirer, Casper is dying to know the identity of his mystery man and begins to search for clues.  He wonders if it is his roommate and good friend Joey with a hidden crush.  Part of him also worries it is one of his old high school bullies playing a prank on him.  But Hot-Hands seems so gentle and kind and not at all like his former bullies.  In fact, Casper finds himself falling for his mystery man and soon realizes he is ready for more than just some quick groping.

Ok, so this book is really hard to review without a lot of spoilers because the secret of Hot-Hands identity is so interwoven into the story.  So I am going to throw in some spoiler tags here and try to keep things as vague as possible, but be warned that from here on out things might get a little spoilerish (and behind the tags will likely give things away).

One thing I liked about this book is the way it addresses the issue of bullying and blends it into the story. Casper had a really hard time in high school and was bullied so badly he had to switch schools.  The two main offenders are now students at college with him, and although he has no interaction with them, he sees them frequently enough in classes that they are never totally out of his mind.  I think the book does a nice job of showing Casper’s feelings about the bullying and how it still leaves lingering mental and physical scars.  This is such an important issue and one I don’t see addressed a lot so I appreciated how it is incorporated here.

The topic does lead to a problem I had with the book though, which is while Casper is interacting with Hot-Hands, he is frequently thinking about (or talking about) his bullies Mike and Jaime because he can’t fully shake the feeling that they are behind Hot-Hands.  So in scenes that show the growing intimacy between Casper and Hot-Hands, I often felt myself getting pulled out of the romance because he is so focused on these guys who were so horrible to him.  It made it hard for me to feel the connection between Casper and his mystery guy because there always seemed to be these other ghosts in the room.

Especially when he and Hot-Hands are in the middle of having sex and then get into a lengthy discussion of the bullying and how horrible it was for him.  I am glad they talked about it because it is an important issue, it just took away from the romantic connection between the guys for me.

I also wondered a bit at the ease with which Casper accepts this stranger not only groping him, but tying him up and performing other sexual acts, all while remaining anonymous.  Especially because Casper is quite sexually inexperienced.  We jump into the story a few weeks after this all starts with Hot-Hands, so we miss learning about Casper’s first reactions and why it turns to attraction rather than fear, anger, etc. So maybe seeing that would have helped it to make a bit more sense for me.

But I couldn’t help but be a bit shocked that he is happy to lose his virginity with a stranger he can’t see or touch.

I think the hardest thing for me was what seemed like easy forgiveness of Jaime after the horrible way he treated Casper in high school.  Not just because of how mean he was, but because of how terrible Casper felt about it, to the point of attempting suicide.  I think I needed more of a sense from Casper of why and how he now felt ready to not only put it behind him, but to pursue a relationship with his former tormenter.

Overall I found many things I liked about Hot Hands, as well as some things that didn’t totally work for me.  I think Pike does a nice job of balancing a light premise with a more serious topic.  I would definitely be interested in reading more from this author in the future.

P.S. This story is the first in a five-part “College Fun and Gays” series. Each story is independent of the other and covers a deep issue (in this case bullying).