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Holy moly hot hires

Fade to black, sizzle, and thrilling action. What more could you want?

Hot Hires Book Cover


Hot Hires


Nan Campbell, Alaina Erdell, Jesse J. Thoma


Sapphic Fiction

Hot and heavy hires, more like it. This book, which includes three evenly spaced novellas by three different sapphic authors, is a lesson in writing compelling, delicious, and thrilling stories. These short novels were delightful to read without sacrificing illustrative and sensory detail. Perfect for the summer.

“New York is Losing Hope” is the perfect title for Nan Campbell’s piece. While waiting for her departure to Los Angeles, lifelong New Yorker Hope Mason hires Val Caceres to teach her to drive. The story was fascinating, even suspenseful because we know from the get-go that Hope has her mind made up about leaving, and nothing, not even Val, can change it. What I loved so much about this novella is how well Campbell puts us inside it. Hopes reasons for wanting to leave are simple: the city is overcrowded; there are rodents everywhere, vying for your leftovers; garbage is haphazardly thrown on the curb for sanitation workers to pick up at their leisure; and she’s lonely. Written in first person, we’re immediately hit with Hopes’s brash sarcasm—it makes her a New Yorker.

Then she meets Val, and some of that brashness starts to soften, but her mind is still made up. Indeed, as a traveling nurse, Val can join her in Los Angeles. Alas, she can’t. But my favorite character is Cesar Caceres, Val’s dad, the principal of the driving school.

This story has much to love; I’m glad the editors put it first. It’s like the delectable appetizer to the other two stories.

“Two Women, Two Weddings” by Alaina Erdell is hot and spicy, not just because the love interest is a chef serving delicious curry at a week-long wedding featuring Christian and Hindu ceremonies. If Hope is a fade-to-black romance, where the sexy scenes end with the foreplay, this one is a smorgasbord of delicious interplay between the chef and the wedding planner. Aarti Singh and Jo Samuels delight us with their delectable love story.

Planning her sister’s wedding, Aarti runs into a snag. Taylor, the chef catering the event, broke her leg and cracked her hip, rendering her service impossible. But she and her wife send their seasoned executive chef to save the day.

What I love the most about this peppery novella is the family dynamics. Aarti comes from a long line of Indian Americans whose idea of the American Dream is to become surgeons. Although a good one, Aarti’s cardiologist career path did little to please her parents, especially after her mother caught her kissing another woman. For fifteen years, Aarti kept her dating life away from her parents’ prying eyes. But having everyone in the same venue at her sister’s wedding that she’s painstakingly planned and trying to keep her lustful eyes off the piquant chef is a prescription for a hilariously entertaining read.

“Love or Money” by Jesse J. Thoma is the most thrilling of the three, a perfect climax to the collection. Bullets fly as Frankie Sender hires bounty hunter Oz Osborne, and we are on the edge of our seats as their story unfolds. The tension is palpable as one of the companies Frankie researches frames her, reminiscent of the suspense in “The Firm.” With its gradual development and undeniable sizzle, this novella is the perfect dessert for this tantalizing meal of sapphic literature.

Also fantastic about these novellas is the diversity of characters. Readers long to see themselves on the page, and when an author showcases more than hot, white, non-disabled people, it’s gratifying.

These three stories go well together because they’re a perfect bite-size read. I was done in three days. I have a day job, after all.

Thanks to NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books for my epub ARC. All opinions are my own.


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About the author(s).

Nan Campbell grew up on the Jersey Shore, where she first discovered her love of romance novels as a kid, spending her summers at the beach reading stories that were wholly inappropriate for her age. She’s a sucker for a happy ending.

Alaina Erdell lives in Ohio with her partner and their three crazy but adorable cats. She has a degree in psychology from Gonzaga University. Prior to writing, she worked as a chef. When she’s not focused on writing lesbian fiction, she enjoys painting, cooking for friends and family, experimenting with molecular gastronomy, reading, kayaking, snorkeling, traveling, and spoiling her beloved nephews.

Jesse Thoma splits her professional time between graduate school and work. She is a project manager in a clinical research lab and spends a good amount of time in methadone clinics and prisons collecting data and talking to people.  She’s happiest when she is out for a walk with her wife and their dog, pretending she still has the soccer skills she had as an eighteen-year-old, eating anything her wife bakes, or sitting at the computer to write a few lines.



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