Hot Sauce - Scott Pomfret

Ladymol's Review

Iím still not entirely convinced that there is a market for this kind of gay novel. The theory that gay men like the same romances as women, only with men, is a pretty shaky theory to base a whole genre of novels on. Because thatís what the authors unashamedly admit: they set out to write in this style, rather than write books which end up as romances.† That aside, I have the same criticism of this book as the previous one we reviewed Ė it just isnít all that well written and the characters remain pretty much names on a page. Itís all fluff and nonsense, but like a pretty twink, I guess itís easy on the eye and amusing for a while.

Brad is a celebrity chef. Troy a celebrity designer, born to wealth and privilege. They are together, but Brad wants love and marriage. Troy isnít giving anything away. Along comes Aria, a pretty boy who seems to be stealing Troy away. Is he? Can Brad and Troy declare their love?

Thatís the plot.

To be fair to the book, I did read with some enjoyment and was quite happy to return to it at night. Itís quite sexy† - the sex scenes being the best written and most convincing parts of the book. The weakest element of the writing was in the characterisation. If youíre going to have a threat to a romance, make it a credible one. Being threatened by Aria was like being punched by a dandelion clock. He was just silly. Characters changed on the flip of a coin with no real explanation Ė just to suit the authorsí requirements for some attempt at dramatic tension. I expected some dramatic revelation as to why Troy had been so reserved and distant with Brad. It never came and so the whole resolution of the plot rather left me cold.

At the end, the ďso-calledĒ romance is laid on so thick I began to wonder whether the authors were parodying straight romance. I donít think they were; the writing isnít good enough. And I guess therein lies the main issue that I have with this novel and had with the last one. These are men, for Godís sake! Do we really want to read about men who obsess over candlelight and niceties of food and like being tucked into bed with cosy blankets and being bought flowers? Iíd rather have the brutal but genuine love shown by Jas, the honest, clumsy love of Dakota Taylor.

There may be a good market for this kind of book for all I know. I guess itís just not me when time is limited and there are so many great books out there to read.

Cerisaye's Review

This novel is a gay version of every Mills & Boon/Harlequin novel I ever read (not many) and hated because the female characters annoyed me so much I wanted to shake them until they stopped acting like morons and got a life that didn't revolve around finding Prince Charming to sweep them off their tiny feet.† Though in this case I wanted the prince to see sense and ditch the would-be princess cus he's just so irritating.† At 14 I moved on to proper books with role models and believable characters I'd actually want to spend time with in real life. People criticise slashers for feminising gay men, well this novel takes the prize for that!

I frequently resisted the urge to throw the book across the room- it felt like just desserts when a bottle of juice accidentally spilled all over it in my bag when a lid wasn't screwed on right, swelling up its pages (sorry LadyM). Speaking of desserts & beverages, the preoccupation of the main character, a restaurant/club owner, with elaborate food and chef-type cooking (i.e. not the sort I do in everyday domestic reality) while maintaining a perfect fat-free, gym-honed figure, not to mention his faghag best friend with her size 0 disinterest in eating just made me want to vomit.

Nothing about the book has anything to do with reality. I judged the characters in Jay Quinn's Good Neighbour shallow and materialistic, but they're poster boys for social conscience compared with Brad & Troy in this piece of totally inconsequential fluff that perpetuates stereotypes long since vanished from hetero romantic fiction.

Gay men fought and died for their due rights so Scott & Scott have freedom to churn out tosh like this?

Is this seriously the kind of romantic fiction adult gay men want?† I refuse to believe it.

Brad is an Iowa farmboy with a huge chip on his shoulder who works his way up the social ladder to achieve success in the hugely competitive catering industry. He wins Troy, despite the name a Greek god-like hunk of masculine perfection, from a Boston brahmin family that represents everything Brad doesn't have, aspires to, yet deepdown feels he doesn't deserve, so does his utmost to drive away. Aided and abetted by the ridiculously named Aria Shakespeare, a toxic peroxide-blond rival for Troy's affections, sponsored by Troy's obnoxious snob of a mother because he comes from a good family unlike poor lowly Brad who could never be suitable for her son.

Yes, clichť piles upon clichť. There isn't a character in the book with a modicum of flesh & blood. Conflict & resolution is the essential formula for any romantic novel but doesn't have to be so annoyingly obvious, made to disappear with a wave of a magic wand for the happy-ever-after, just like that, poof- all gone. Brad's insecurity and introspective self-analysis get very quickly tiresome. There's no way someone so plain silly could make a success in the cutthroat world in which he operates, or have so much free time.

Oh it's all so ridiculous I don't know why I'm wasting more of MY time. You do not want to bother with this stupid novel, the kind that gives romantic fiction a bad name. Instead do yourself a favour and rent the six seasons of Oz, something that portrays what real love is between men with serious problems to overcome, life & death situations the likes of Brad & Troy have no concept of dealing with in their hermetically sealed fairytale world of urban affluence and materialism.

Yes, the sex is frequent and quite good, but what's the point if you don't care? It's no more real than the rest of the story, always the best, earth-moving, etc. etc. Don't even think about buying this book- trawl Nifty if you need a fix of erotic romance.

Writers with actual talent and meaningful stories to tell are being turned down by publishers who say there's no market for their work. If we don't act we'll be left with more and more of this kind of drivel. Don't let that happen.