Rating: 4.5 stars
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It’s been a month since the smoking hot firefighter (both literally and figuratively) kissed all the air out of Shane’s lungs and then asked for his number. A month since the two of them worked together to redirect a flood of people from imminent harm by the raging wildfire towards a safer path, saving Shane’s grandfather at the same time. A month of silence. No call, no text, nothing. Just as Shane’s about to give up all hope, he gets a letter in the mail informing him that the California State Firefighters Association wishes to recognize his services by presenting him with a medal of valor.
Shane’s first inclination is to not go, until he realizes that this might be his chance to see Mike, his firefighter. And see him he does, every single tall, dark, handsome inch of him. When Mike’s mother goes out of her way to give Shane a hug and invite him for dinner, Mike snaps out that they’re not friends. Oh, it’s on.
Shane is going to show up to dinner. He’s going to look Mike in the eye and … well, do nothing, at it turns out. Mike is deeply in the closet and it isn’t Shane’s place to have an opinion on it. Until Mike asks him to. Mike wants to be friends and, for Shane, being the only gay person Mike has come out to is a responsibility. He’s going to introduce Mike to his people, get Mike more gay friends, show him that there’s no one way to be gay (even though Shane’s way is fabulous, thank you) and that he has people who understand him even when he worries that his own family won’t.
Shane is doing his best to put his own personal desires aside and be the friend Mike needs, but it’s hard when he wants to be so much more. Mike’s goodness, his charm, his puppy dog eyes and charming smile make Shane dream of things Mike isn’t ready for. And Mike’s big, loud, warm family is everything Shane didn’t know he wanted, having been kicked out of his own family when he came out to his parents. He won’t put Mike through that pain. But as the days go on, it gets harder and harder to just be friends.
Hot Seat is the first in the Hot Cannolis series and features a large, loud, and loving family. As with all families, there is a mixture of intolerance, ignorance, indifference, and acceptance. And love. A lot of love. Mike is the baby of the very large family of seven kids (and that’s just his parents’ kids), most of whom are in some form of service. The family has a history of police, firefighters, and EMTs. And, being Italian Catholics, a history of traditional gender roles. The men are expected to be manly, loyal, devoted, loving, strong, and straight, and Mike is everything but the last one.
Shane lost his family when he came out and, if it weren’t for his grandfather, Pops, he has no idea what would have happened to him. But he has Pops, he has his friends, he even has his book club of retired men and women who support him (okay, so he thought the book club would be hosted in the Senior Center, not be for members of the Senior Center). But there’s something to be said for having a boyfriend. Still, he’d rather have Mike in his life, even if it’s just as a friend.
This is a sweet, funny, and fuzzy story. Like a warm blanket, it wraps you up in the feel-good company of an extended family and doesn’t let you go home until you’re full. And even then, are you sure you don’t want leftovers? The voices of both authors come through clearly and the writing is seamless. The pacing can drag in parts, but I still read the book in one sitting. A second book is on the way and I’m very much looking forward to it. Do give this book a try, especially if you’re in the mood for a feel good family.
This sounds appealing, Elizabeth. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.