Author: K.A. Merikan
Pages/Word Count: 312 Pages
At a Glance: An atypical story of a psychologically dysfunctional couple makes Red Hot an interesting, if not perfect, read.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: — Live fast. Die young. Fuck hard.—
Red Jack. Rude. Crude. Horny ginger mess. In love with… himself.
Loki. Deadbeat. Volatile. Stalker. Terminally ill. Fatally in love.
When it comes to men, Red Jack has three rules. The guy has to be hot, out of town, and not up for repeats. It’s a good way to keep the gay flings far away from the eyes of his brothers in the Coffin Nails Motorcycle Club, and he will make damn sure it stays that way. When a hookup takes an ominous turn, and the sexy stranger turns up at his house, the heat is on. Loki invades his life and just won’t leave, wreaking havoc wherever he follows Jack, but getting rid of him becomes harder with every kiss.
The world crumbles around Loki when he finds out he has cancer. As if his life wasn’t shit enough already. With only a few months left, he decides to live to the fullest and get every last wish on his bucket list fulfilled. One of those is fucking the hot bearded biker he meets the same night he got the bad news. Big, confident, and dangerous, Red Jack is all Loki ever wanted in a man. After all, he deserves one last shot at love. Who cares if Red Jack is a stubborn, closeted asshole? Loki knows what he wants, and he won’t settle for anything less. Even if it kills him.
Review: There’s a saying that goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. I think there’s a certain level of the fun sort of insanity involved in my continuing to read the Sex & Mayhem series, but the good part is that I go into each book expecting different results, and K.A. Merikan have, up to this point, delivered—for better or not. Truth be told, I haven’t always loved all the books in this series, it seems my feelings have swung from one end of the spectrum to the other (without much in between), but one thing I can say is that this writing team doesn’t pander to what many readers demand in this genre—standard-fare-romance—and I respect the hell out of them for that, for staying true to their style and writing what they want to write rather than what the romance genre will bear.
In Red Hot, we’re introduced to the California chapter of the Coffin Nails MC, though I believe they were first introduced in Book Three (that book is M/F, and I haven’t read it). In any case, it’s not necessary to read it in order to follow the goings-on in this installment of Sex & Mayhem, but I did sense there were characters I’d have known better if I’d read that book, specifically Sam and Candy. From what we get to see of them here, I liked them, especially Sam, and if anyone ever needed a friend like Sam, it’s Red Jack.
Of all the characters who’ve been introduced thus far, I have to say I think Red Jack and Loki are two of the most psychotic, which, oddly enough, kind of works for them. Red Jack is a sexist freaking pig who treats women like walking meat sacs meant for nothing more than playing hide-the-sausage, while Loki is Red Jack’s creepy stalker—but in more a sad and pathetic than scary way. Jack and Loki’s relationship is kind of jaw-dropping, to be honest; at least, I found myself reading with my mouth hanging open a lot, wanting to nut-punch Red Jack and, at the same time, throttle Loki for letting Jack treat him like crap. There is a bit of sweet irony, however, when Jack looks at Loki’s behavior and realizes all his own dickish creepo moves are being mirrored right back at him.
As the very straight Red Jack begins to realize maybe he objectifies women because he isn’t quite as straight as he thought he was and uses them to shore up his manhood, we witness the building of one of the most dysfunctional romances I believe I’ve ever read. Funny thing, though—Red Jack and Loki work together in all their dysfunction because they’re equally atypical. Loki’s backstory isn’t a happy one (a common theme in the series)—he has his share of nasty exes who’ve left their fair share of scars, both physical and emotional. What eventually brings Jack and Loki together, then, is the fact their relationship is predicated on shared negative life experiences (another common theme), not to mention a big fat lie that allows Jack to explore his little used empathy, and makes Loki a sympathetic character.
There’s a definite formula to this series—the biker who finally admits he’s not straight and finds the one man he’s willing to risk his life for, the socially aberrant behavior they participate in, and a couple of guys who are far from the typical gorgeous buff studs we often see in the genre–nor do they always (read: ever) act like sane and rational adults. Though this book presents some of the same issues for me that I’ve noted all along in the series, I was able to enjoy Red Hot to a much greater degree than No Matter What, but nowhere near as much as I liked The Devil’s Ride. I honestly don’t think enough redemption could have been written for Red Jack to get the foul taste of him out of my brain, but at least he learned a few things about himself before story’s end. I haven’t always loved this series, but it is different, and that’s something I can get behind.
And P.S.: all the covers are kinda purty.
You can buy Red Hot here: