Rating: 4.25 stars
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When Eddie Kim is rescued from a fire in his apartment by a mysterious stranger, he is determined to find the man again. Especially because the guy just miraculously appeared inside Eddie’s apartment. And unless Eddie’s sleep-addled and smoke-infused brain deceived him, the guy also somehow managed to freeze out the fire with his bare hands. Oh, and then there was that kiss just before his mystery man ran off into the night, making Eddie promise not to tell anyone he had been there.
Being rescued by his own knight in shining armor makes Eddie definitely want to find this guy again. With the help of some friends and a craigslist ad, Eddie sets out to track down his redheaded superhero with a cleverly worded missed connections ad. But when Callum Race returns in response to the ad, it turns out that Eddie’s publicity has brought Callum unwanted attention from some bad guys he was trying to avoid. Callum has been trying to clear his brother’s name and these guys are willing to do anything to stop him. Despite Callum’s pleas for Eddie to get out of town to safety, Eddie wants to repay Callum for saving his life by helping him out. Not to mention that he totally has the hots for the sexy redhead and the more they get to know one another, the stronger the attraction grows. But the men Callum are working against are definitely both sneaky and dangerous. Eddie may be getting into more trouble than he can handle as this time he tries to be the hero and save his man.
In Distress is the latest book in Katey Hawthorne’s fabulous Superpowered Love series. The books all take place in a shared world where the “awakened” have superpowers that allow them to control elements, such as cold, fire, and electricity. While some people know about them, for the most part they are keep a secret from the “sleepers” (the regular folks out there). In this case, Callum has the ability to control cold and ice, doing every from frosting a glass to freezing an entire room. The conflict in the story centers around these awakened, most of whom want to fly under the radar and live their lives in peace. But there are some that want to shake up the status quo and come out of hiding. And it is these folks who are after Callum, determined to stop him from exposing what they are really up to.
While all the books in the series stand alone in a shared world but without interconnected characters (with the exception of Riot Boy and Re-entry Burn), over time we have learned more about this world and some of the issues facing the awakened. One of them is the question of whether they should remain a secret and stay in hiding, or whether they should be able to reveal themselves to the world. So this story fits nicely within that theme, focusing on a group of radicals who are causing trouble in an attempt to shake up the sleeper infrastructure and be able to be out there publicly with their powers. And Callum and his brother have been caught in the middle of all this, with Callum’s attempts at clearning his brother’s name leaving him right in the bad guys’ crosshairs.
I enjoy seeing how Hawthorne takes on different aspects of the superpowered world in her stories. And I really liked the reversal here, with Callum as Eddie’s savior early on, and Eddie returning the favor later in the story. Especially because the story notes Eddie’s “damsel in distress” fantasies and his gender fluidness, but at the same time we see him as strong and brave enough to take on danger and be the hero himself. So it is a nice bit of cleverness here that I really liked. I will say though that I found the exact nature of the conflict a little confusing. It doesn’t get spelled out in much detail until the very end, and even then I am not totally clear why everyone is after Callum or why he is in so much danger. I get the basics that he is stirring up trouble with the bad guys and now they are mad at him, but we are told he has been on the run and in hiding for a while and I just wished for more detail here to really understand what was going on.
My favorite part of the story is really Eddie. He is such a fun character, and I knew I would love him after the opening page when he shares his dream:
And there I was, sleeping like a cliché-baby on my futon, dreaming about that guy who plays Jon Snow in Game of Thrones. About him crawling up that giant ice wall with my thighs wrapped around his waist, saving me from the attacking Wildlings. Me shifting my hips (gotta keep warm on the Wall somehow) and whispering into his ear, “Faster, baby. Winter is coming.”
Because for reals, haven’t we all had a Jon Snow fantasy in our day?
Eddie is fun and quirky and a little dorky, playing Dungeons & Dragons with his friends and having his white knight fantasies. He is unabashedly kind of a slut and likes when guys find him attractive (especially when Callum stares at him longingly with his beautiful blue-green eyes). But at the same time, Eddie is confident and brave, willing to stand up to the bad guys to help protect Callum, even when they are still just getting to know one another. He is an entertaining POV character and I loved being in his head and hearing his thoughts on everything along the way.
Callum is also a great hero, hunky and a bit mysterious. He comes in as a savior during the night, but as the story goes on, we realize how much Callum needs someone else to help him with all his burdens. He is exhausted and in danger and wants to handle things all himself, but really can’t do it alone. So I loved this interplay between this big strong hero on one hand, and then this man who is willing to open himself up to help when he needs it. Not to mention he is gorgeous and sexy and a ginger. He and Eddie make a great pair and I loved both of them.
In addition to my confusion on the exact nature of the conflict, I did have a another couple of small issues here. First, the story takes a while to start up and really get rolling. The set up is really interesting, especially the trouble caused by the anarchist awakened. So I do think the payoff is worth a little time getting it there. But by the time Eddie and Callum actually really meet and things start heating up, both between them and with the suspense end of things, the story is pretty far along and the book is pretty short to start with. So I think the pacing is a bit off here and I wanted either more with these two guys once they get together, or else a quicker start up so there is a little more balance. That said, once things get rolling, the story moves quickly and the chemistry between Eddie and Callum is great and super sexy.
I also had to wonder at the ease that Eddie accepts news of this whole superpowered world. He barely blinks at it all when Callum tells him, asks no questions, and seems to totally accept the very limited explanation Callum offers. It just seemed impossible to believe he would be that unaffected by such dramatic news. From a reader standpoint, I also think we could have used more detail here on the superpowered folk. Again, this is a series with a shared world but not a linear reading order, so many folks will not have started from the beginning of the series. While I think the explanation is clear, if I was a new reader I probably would have wanted more from the world building.
But despite some quibbles, I really enjoyed this one and continue to be a huge fan of the series. I love this world that Hawthorne has created and how she manages to build these books, each with different tones and focuses, but still all part of the same superpowered universe. I loved Eddie as our POV character and found him and Callum to be great and super sexy together. And I enjoyed the amusing tone with the light suspense and the fun characters. So another enjoyable installment and I am looking forward to more.
P.S. Don’t miss Hawthorne’s play list for the book at the end of the story. This is a recurring feature in her books and it is always fun to see the music she connects with the book.
Cover Review: Again, I love P.L. Nunn and she has done such a fabulous job with this series. The covers connect together so nicely and have that perfect super hero feel.