Sunday, March 7, 2021

Retro Review: Hot Night

The review for Hot Night by Shannon McKenna was first published at The Romance Reader in 2006. Back then I rated it 2-Hearts (D grade) with a sensuality rating equivalent of NC-17.  This currently appears to be out of print, with no available digital edition.


Readers can always count on Shannon McKenna to deliver a hot Alpha hero who lacks a little something in the manners department. Unfortunately, she tends to pair up these hot hunks of beefcake with heroines who have as much spine and personality as your garden-variety jellyfish. 

Abby Maitland slaves away at a museum job for a Devil Wears Prada-like boss. She has just landed a major coup for the museum, a gala event to show off their latest exhibit, a cache of sunken treasure recently recovered that they’re calling The Pirate’s Horde. She’s also decided now is the time to get serious about her love life. No more dating bad boy losers who deplete her checking account and wreck her cars. Nope, Abby now has a “list” and any guy who wants to get serious with her has to meet the criteria. So her fabulous gay friend, Dovey (that’s right, Dovey), has been setting her up on disastrous blind dates with men who fit Abby’s list. You think the girl would get a clue here, but amazingly enough she never does. 

It’s on her latest disaster that she meets Zan Duncan (that’s right, Zan). A locksmith and part-time computer guru of some sort (honestly, the author spends zero time on this other than it makes the hero conveniently rich), he answers Abby’s late night phone call after she locks herself out of her apartment. He arrives, rescues her from her latest blind date from hell, unlocks her door and the conversation laden with double entendres begins. 

But Zan doesn’t fit her “list” criteria, so Abby isn’t interested. Plus, things get really complicated when the evil bad guy shows up on the scene. He wants to steal The Pirate’s Horde and he isn’t going to let anybody or anything stand in his way. 

The plot is over-the-top (seriously, pirate’s treasure?!), but it could have been campy fun if the characters weren’t so annoying. Zan actually starts out very intriguing. He’s sexy, charming and I was thinking about running away with him at first. Unfortunately he’s attracted to Abby, which immediately knocks him down several pegs. She runs so hot and cold over the course of the story, I swear I got whiplash. One minute she’s pushing Zan away because he doesn’t fit her “list,” the next she’s throwing herself at him and putting her mouth on body parts that would send mixed signals to any man. 

Zan really has no chance at all. He cajoles her, tries to persuade her to give him a chance – but she flatly refuses. However, just as he’s about to throw in the towel, here comes Abby playing all hot to trot. Naturally, by about the halfway point the guy is truly confused and the bickering ensues. These two seem to have the same fight over the course of the entire story, and I never could get a handle on it since they talk in circles. But never fear gentle reader, they wait to do their arguing after they have the hot, acrobatic sex. 

Misunderstandings naturally ensue, with Zan leaping to conclusions and behaving like a Neanderthal. Not that I could truly blame him since Abby sends out so many mixed signals I would have gleefully strangled her myself if I were in his shoes. Not only is this all highly annoying to read about, it also sabotages the romance. These two cannot agree on anything, and several important conversations have to be halted because they cannot get along. Seriously, they’re going to have to spend their entire married life naked with duct tape over their mouths for this relationship to have any prayer at all. 

The suspense plot isn’t too bad, but it is overblown given the villain is one-dimensionally evil. Also, Abby somehow manages to become shriller after a dead body turns up. While it’s nice to see an author keeping the legacy of the unapologetic Alpha hero alive and well, coupling these guys with grating heroines is not the way to go. My advice is to keep the aspirin handy, and a bottle of tequila wouldn’t hurt either.


Wendy Looks Back: McKenna was a fan favorite at the height of the Kensington Brava line known for barely housebroken heroes and steamy sex. While a good many of my reading friends loved her work, I never could quite get there. Her heroes too Neanderthal-y, her heroine's too annoying.  And then her work started to blend in more and more paranormal elements and I was completely out.

Here's the thing though, McKenna's work was always compelling even when I wanted to strangle her characters.  She's self-published some stuff since her Brava days (eh, again with the paranormal elements) but she's got a new series launching this month with Harlequin Desire.  Besides always being here for category romance, McKenna's brand of Alpha hero should be right at home in the Desire line.  I'm intrigued....

1 comment:

Kristie (J) said...

I don't think I read this one though I did read a number of her books some years ago. I haven't really been reading a lot of RS for a while now though.