Hot Lips is the last of The Hot Cannolis series. It is written by Tara Lain, when the original plan was to continue to coauthor , with Eli Easton, all four books was halted by Lain’s personal health issues that had Easton and Lain dividing up the last two stories.
She mentions all this in the prologue but I bring it up again because unlike the other books, Hot Lips seems the only story removed from the encompassing “embrace” of the Canoli compound and family we’ve come to love. Even Tito, one of its main characters, is an enigma. His personality , with those vague hints of shyness, a lack of history, and a real disconnect to everyone in the Canoli family, wasn’t that interesting.
The reader, through every book, has no idea, who this shadow is.
That’s completely opposite of every other novel where we had a semblance of the person we were to meet going in. Here? Nothing.
Lain assembles Tito’s personality like a puzzle at the same time she’s crafting her storylines, and I’m not sure it works. It’s not a smooth or fluid construction.
Tito ‘s character has endured trauma. Has PTSD, has become housebound. Has another identity. Lain piles onto Tito multiple layers of elements that don’t have “page time” for full treatment. There’s mystery, kidnapping, stalking , and other elements that would act as trigger warnings.
Then there’s Ari Cohen, the undercover Detective. He’s huge, sweet, has a great cat. I mean he’s a good character but his role within the Canoli “universe “ is barely there when Uncle Rick asks him over to talk to Tito. Which is a real stretch here.
I think that’s part of my issue here. All the preceding books felt like a part of a family. They naturally flowed together. They had history, substance , a firm foundation that the storylines and characters stood upon.
This easily could have been a standalone with nothing to do with the Canolis. It felt like the author kept pushing to make connections to the series instead of letting it be what it was, it’s own novel.
So it ends up being something that almost succeeds but doesn’t because it tries so hard. Sweet romance with trigger warnings.
The Hot Cannolis series:
◦ Fireman’s Carry (The Hot Cannolis #0.5) by Eli Easton
✓ Hot Seat #1
✓ Hot Wings #2
✓ Hot Pursuit #3 by Eli Easton
✓ Hot Lips #4 by Tara Lain
Sometimes there are too many closets to come out of.
For two years, Tito’s been hiding from his past in the midst of his uncle and aunt’s big, crazy, compound full of relatives in a tiny town in California.
Now his past’s come to get him – and threatens not only Tito’s life, but to reveal the secret that will get Tito kicked out of the family he loves.
Time to fight back!
Ari Cohen, a tough cop on the hate crimes task force, knows about hiding and fighting, since he spends his life undercover searching out bad guys.
Ari’s got a big secret too that perfectly matches Tito’s –both in and out of bed.
But don’t play hearts and flowers yet.
The price they have to pay for the match may send them running back to their closets – if Tito can stay alive long enough to get there.
HOT LIPS is a M/M romantic suspense mystery, packed with sexy secrets, danger, family love, and a crazy, one-eyed cat
Unless it’s noted, all books reviewed have been purchased by the reviewer.