Thursday, October 31, 2019

Retro Review: Hot Pink

This review of Hot Pink by Susan Johnson was originally posted at The Romance Reader in 2003. Back then I rated this 1-Heart (F Grade) with an MPAA sensuality rating of NC-17.


I started Hot Pink on a Sunday afternoon and read about 50 pages. For the next 4 days I picked it up long enough to stuff it in my purse. I couldn’t read anymore. I thought that maybe if I ignored it, it would go away. Or as my boyfriend so eloquently put it, “cease to exist.” But damn if I wasn’t assigned to review it – which meant my scruples made me finish it.

Chloe Chisolm has met her dream man in an elevator. He’s tall, dark, handsome and great in bed. In fact it’s the best sex Chloe has ever had, and if we’re to believe the narrative, Chloe has had more sexual partners than a horny seaman on leave. There’s just one little catch – he’s engaged to a beautiful, psycho ice princess.

Rocco Vinelli (no I didn’t make that up) isn’t really engaged to psycho Amy. He’s starting a business with his siblings, and Amy’s Daddy is an investor. Not wanting to ruin the deal and piss off Daddy – Rocco has been humoring the girl. However, now he’s met Chloe and he’s over the moon! What to do?

The biggest stumbling block with Hot Pink is the completely unlikable characters. I’ve never bought into the theory that the reader must “relate” to the characters to enjoy a story – but liking them, or finding them marginally interesting doesn’t hurt. Every character in this book is shallow and vacuous. If they aren’t having sex or thinking about it – they’re acting trendy and hip.

In a 295-page book, Chloe and Rocco somehow manage to not have one meaningful conversation. They are either boinking or doing the “he said, she said” routine. Amy says she and Rocco are engaged; Chloe doesn’t know what to believe, but she keeps sleeping with Rocco anyway. Ah yes, it must be true love! So when Rocco and Chloe both internally muse that what they feel for each other is “different” you can imagine my surprise.

The writing here, while decent, is lazy. In fact, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that the author known for her historicals laden with footnotes wrote Hot Pink. Characters aren’t created – they are compared. For instance, the only things we are told about Rocco are that he’s hot, incredible in bed and looks like Goran Visnjic. Another hottie that Chloe bangs is a young bartender who looks like Colin Farrell. Chloe gets a little more attention, but she’s given the “hip” short shift as well. She has pink hair, wears Jimmy Choos, and is a web designer. My benchmark for a good book is when I begin to believe the characters are real. These characters could never exist out of a CGI program or the Hollywood spin factory.

The whole thing is just tedious, right down to the conflict – which is solely Amy. This is a woman who is so one-dimensional that I half expected her to start cackling like a Disney villain. She’s a stalker, plain and simple. The fact that Rocco won’t tell her to take a long walk off a short pier only illustrates how unhero-like he is. I like Alphas and I like Betas, but a man who won’t stand up for himself is no hero.

The whole thing just makes my head hurt. So much so that I had to take a break from reading to vacuum my spare bedroom – yes you read that right, I resorted to housework! If you go for shallow characters and a story laden with “hip” name dropping, go right ahead. Feel free. Run, run, run to the nearest bookstore. I couldn’t take it. Unlikable, uncaring, unfeeling, and totally lacking in substance I couldn’t wait to be done with it. Or in less eloquent terms, I guess you could say Hot Pink left me cold.


Wendy Looks Back: I had to look up Goran Visnjic - that's apparently how memorable I found that guy.

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