Hot off the Press
I very much enjoyed Nancy Warren’s 2002 Blaze, Whisper; for me it was one of last year’s buried treasure reads. So I jumped at the chance to review her newest, but Hot off the Press doesn’t offer the same reading experience as that earlier release.
Tess Elliot and Mike Grundel are rival movie critics in the small, two-newspaper town of Pasqualie. They couldn’t be more different. Mike is a bit of a drifter, a bad boy journalist who has been demoted to his current position due to a story that went sour and a source who refused to back him up. Tess is the daughter of two of the wealthiest and most respected people in Pasqualie. Armed with a fresh journalism degree, she is still optimistic and idealistic about her career. The two regularly clash in terms of their film choices, but they’ve been attracted to each other for some time.
Mike knows that he can’t have Tess. She’s far too fine for a guy like him, and besides. he’s allergic to commitment. But when a story about a local scandal comes along, he throws in his lot with hers. She has connections and isn’t tainted by suspicion as he is, and he’s got a hankering for his old job. But will their investigation reveal feelings that the two of them aren’t prepared to confront?
Parts of this book are written with an enjoyably light touch. The story opens with a pair of absolutely opposing movie reviews, the juxtaposition of which was quite funny. Tess and Mike have some decent chemistry, and their banter was fun. Mike teetered on the edge of jerkdom upon occasion, but then would do something unexpectedly sweet and thoughtful. The story is well organized and structured around an interesting plot.
The book had me quite engaged until round about the first love scene, and then I began to notice how schmaltzy some of the interior monologue was. There’s an awful lot of Tess thinking about how hot Mike is and Mike thinking about how he’d really like to get into Tess’s pants. This got to be a little tedious, as did Mike’s constant assertions that the two of them were just too different to ever be together.
Tess’s waffling about sex was also confusing. One moment she’s completely fine with the idea of a one-nighter, only to immediately insist she isn’t that kind of girl, that Mike lacks respect for her by treating her that way. Well, Tess, which is it? Mike and I would both like to know.
Warren’s humor saved Hot off the Press from being just an average read, but there’s nothing about this story that’s new or different. Still, if you like Opposites Attract or He Said/She Said types of stories, you might want to pick this one up.