Rating: 4.75 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
Ten years after 9/11, Dante Anastagio and Griffin (Griff) Muir are still best friends, but Dante and Griff have many secrets. Dante has no memory of what happened at Ground Zero, but the fear that Dante was lost in the destruction greatly affected Griff. That was the point at which Griff began having feelings for Dante, even if he did not consciously acknowledge those feelings for his straight best friend. Although Griff feels an attraction to Dante, he knows that there is no chance that Dante could feel the same given his string of one-night stands with women, and being a gay firefighter with the FDNY is not an option anyway.
Dante, desperate to save his run-down home, finds a rather creative way to bridge his financial gap. He is performing for a gay male web site, Hothead.com. Dante’s solo performance gains many fans, including best friend Griff, who is sent into a tailspin, obsessing over the video of Dante, his unattainable straight crush. Griff is so into Dante that it reaches the point that Griff does not trust himself around Dante if alcohol is involved.
Griff ends up in Manhattan at a gay bar for the first time, where he notices that the patrons are just ordinary men, athletes, business men, friends, and lovers. As Griff is leaving the bar, he almost stumbles across two men fucking in the alley. Griff is frozen in place and cannot take his eyes off the scene playing out in front of him. Keeping to the shadows, Griff watches and is shocked to see Tommy, a paramedic from his fire house, is the one on the receiving end, looking happy and satisfied. Tommy gay? It can’t be. It must be. Griff is not alone.
Dante approaches Griff for a favor, and a few too many drinks later, Griff wakes up naked in Dante’s bed with no recollection of how he ended up there, and what the conversation from the night before was all about. Griff’s alcohol-induced memory lapse and waking up naked causes embarrassment for both Griff and Dante, for different reasons. Dante begins to avoid Griff, and when pushed by Griff for the reason for his avoidance, Dante refreshes Griff’s memory and begs Griff to join him in a performance at Hot Head, saying that a video of both of them would be enough to get him out of the crippling debt he is in. Reluctantly, Griff agrees, not once, but twice.
While Griff is working at the door of his second job as a bouncer, he sees a group beating up Tommy for being gay. Tommy trusted the wrong person with the truth, and has paid the price. Now Griff is worried for a different reason; the videos could end his and Dante’s careers, and put them at risk from the intolerance that surrounds them from all sides.
Griff and Dante have come to terms with their feelings for each other, now they need to see how the rest of New York will react — their families, and especially their brothers at Ladder 181. Can their feelings for each other as friends translate to lovers, and will they be able to weather the fallout that may come from revealing their true feelings for one another?
When I came up with Hot Head as a Throwback Thursday option, and it was approved, it was almost, yes almost, a “SQUEEE” moment for me. Hot Head is one of the first, and most memorable M/M books I have ever read, for the detailed characters, slightly twisted plot, and insane sex scenes. This one deserves a heat rating, for sure.
Suede crafted some extremely complex characters that showed the difficulty of coming out as an adult to family, friends, and co-workers. The fact that Griff and Dante are firefighters is a definite bonus for me as a reader, especially when they get suited up in their turnout gear for their insanely hot video shoot with each other. Dante acts arrogant and sure of himself, but is actually the sensitive, insecure one, while Griff was always unsure of himself. Dante’s insane plan to see if Griff would participate in a porn shoot was, honestly, far-fetched, in every way imaginable, and quite honestly, I would call Dante diabolical in his planning and execution of his attempt to win Griff over as more than just a friend.
Griff’s confusion and denial are paper thin. He knows he is gay but realizes that gay is not an option. He goes to the gay bar in the East Village and no one does it for him, making him wonder if he is only “gay for Dante.” Really? This is one of those concepts that just doesn’t make sense to me. Someone other than the object of your desires has to stoke the fires, it is just natural. Now Griff feeling compelled to visit the Hothead.com website and trying to resist was, to me, very well addressed as we were treated to the internal struggle and external calm that exemplified Griff’s character. Griff becoming obsessed with Dante’s video and he’s behaviour and thought processes during that time felt natural to me, and was consistent with Griff’s character. Griff is ashamed at what he has been doing, yet also desperately wants to do the video with Dante. The justification is because of Dante’s money troubles, but the reality is summed up in this quote: “A completely selfish sacrifice, hidden in plain sight.” Quite the leap from closeted to porn video in one fell swoop, but with the years of lust and weeks of watching Dante’s solo video, Griff cannot resist the temptation any longer.
Just a quick note on Dante, he is the king of euphemisms for masturbation; burp the worm, tickle the pickle, polish the pole. Each one made me laugh, and seriously, Dante was a great character. Fun, easy going, and everyone’s friend, but personally, the man would exhaust me if we were together and that, to me, shows that Suede successfully crafted a great multi-dimensional character. Griff, on the other hand, with his calm exterior (and ginger hair) made him the more appealing character for me, which brings me to the “Griff and Dante are and aren’t an opposites attract situation.” Griff, a 6’5”, 245lb kilt wearing ginger, and Dante, with his year-round tan, dark eyes, and dark hair are as different physically as you can get, but their over 10-year friendship has been going strong, and they are both firefighters from, and in, the same neigborhood. Dante is the source of the change, nervous, anxious with a secret, just like Griff, except Griff has perfected the art of hiding his true feelings for the seemingly unattainable Dante.
I realize that I did not really address the performances and passion found in Hot Head, but honestly, there is no way to adequately describe the incredible scenes that Griff and Dante share, and so I must insist that you grab a copy of Hot Head and experience it for yourself.
Heat rating: Off the charts. Two words: Extended activities. Two more words: Oh my.