Those fans who read the utterly delightful Divas Las Vegas by Rob Rosen know that this author can write some hilarious madcap insanity. If you haven’t read the book, seriously why not and Hot Lava follows in that lauded tradition. While I didn’t laugh out loud as much with Hot Lava, nor did I end the book kissing the ground that I’d read it (like I did with Divas), the humor and clever writing combines with a lightening fast pace to produce a fun, witty, and very entertaining light story to chase away any winter doldrums. Although I don’t think it managed the same highs as Divas, Hot Lava is an easy book to recommend and fans will definitely want to read this.
This particular installment introduces the reader to Chase and Brandon. Chase is the first person narrator of the story and recently laid off from work. So the two best friends immediately decide to take Chase’s severance package and go on an expensive, outrageous vacation to Hawaii. The fruity libations are already flowing when Chase spots a pretty hot looking fellow traveler named Will with one hitch. Will is handcuffed to someone Chase immediately assumes is a terrorist and there to blow up the plane. After a little clarity is offered the foursome later share a limo ride from t he airport. This sets off a chain reaction of events that leads to murder, mayhem, prostitution (in drag no less), confusion, shopping, sexual escapades, and maybe love.
The plot is filled with obvious contrivances and manipulations. The thread of the murder mystery and numerous offshoots honestly never did make a lot of linear sense. There are several leaps in logic and long explanations that didn’t really offer me much more insight. The characters would work out problems and explain new developments but it all felt too madcap and confusing. Yet at the same time I kind of didn’t care. This isn’t a serious murder story so I didn’t let the plot holes or leaps in logic bother me much – and they certainly didn’t bother the mostly drunk characters either. The pretty loose and manipulated plot is a vehicle to keep the story going and move the characters from one ridiculous situation to the next. I would have preferred if the plot made more sense and I could follow it easier but like I said, I could get over this and enjoy the story for the sheer entertainment value.
The novel has a lot of entertainment value for sure. The characters are over the top caricatures that offer some great witty dialogue and sassy actions. The first person narrator, Chase, often speaks to the reader in parenthesis offering additional insight and explanation. Some of these are very funny and just add to the boozy, less than intelligent impression of the cast. Some of these are a bit heavy handed, apologizing for obvious writing or foreshadowing which feels like a cop out instead of a sly wink. In fact this trick is used quite often so if this turns you off – and I know some readers hate it – then be warned going into it.
However for the most part these additions are just obvious and what the reader is already thinking so I didn’t find them too annoying, although I could have used less of those and more linear plot. The characters are not so developed as simply entertaining. Chase and Brandon are on vacation and so want sun, sand, alcohol, shopping, pampering, and cute men at every opportunity. They are surprisingly kind, generous, witty, funny, shallow, loving, not very smart, and self effacing which helps keeps their exaggerated personalities from overwhelming the story or reader. You can’t help liking these two and that makes their wild ride all the more fun to witness.
There is a lot of sexual tension and eroticism in the novel but it’s mixed well with humor. The writing in these scenes tends to be slightly corny and slides into purplish prose. On the one hand it suits the characters and rather brash and frivolous story but it also kept the sex scenes somewhat cringe inducing for me. I found them more ridiculous than sexy but that will vary depending on reader writing preferences. The rest of the story offers an incredibly fast pace, even tone, and clever wit. Rosen knows how to write really good comedy and it’s on display well in this novel. I think fans of the author will really enjoy this light, breezy read while those new to the author will discover a gem.