My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I must declare an interest from the off here as I beta read this for Eli and Tara and so had a lot of a clue as to where the book was going.
Read Fireman’s Carry before you start this one as it picks up a month or so after the events of that book – it’s free in the Prolific Works Your Book Boyfriend’s Boyfriend giveaway:
Hot Seat takes the reader on what, for me, felt like a really heartfelt, believable and – at times – intensely frustrating journey, as both Shane and Mike dealt with all the traumas of not only their involvement in the desperate rescue of dozens of people in the recent wild fires, but Mike’s being in the closet.
There are potential triggers (I’m not sure if they’re highlighted), as the family that Mike is lovingly embraced in also has some massive faults, with casually homophobic brothers, a toxic masculinity throughout, and a widely expressed belief that real men can’t be gay.
The tension in the narrative comes from the situation Shane and Mike find themselves in and, for young men just on the cusp of life (they’re 19/turning 21), it was utterly heart-breaking at times to watch the struggle firefighter rookie Mike goes through.
Thankfully, not all is doom and gloom, there are also some amazingly supportive characters throughout both Shane’s life (his Pops is awesome) but also among the Canalis, where Mike’s mum and sister really step up.
When things really come down to the wire, help and support also comes from an unexpected quarter and I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised by that.
As my friend Dani says in her review, this one needed an Epilogue as it’s only a tentative step forward as a pair at the end.
But, as the series continues with other members of the Canali family (Donny is up next!), I’m hoping we’ll get updates on Mike and Shane throughout those books.
I’m pretty sure Mike’s uncle and his son are likely candidates for books too and I’m intrigued as to who else might be in play.
One thing I will say though, is that I didn’t feel like the ages of the rest of the characters was defined enough. Donny is supposed to be 25 but still acts like he’s fresh out of school at times, same with older brother Gabe, who I think is 28. Only the eldest brother felt like an elder brother!
But, it’s a minor point in an overall reading experience which really worked for me, even with the relatively young age of Shane and Mike.
#ARC kindly received from the authors in return for an honest and unbiased review