Hot Shot belongs to Ms. Phillips’ earlier phase, an era of women’s fiction rather than the humorous, contemporary romances for which she is now known. My body automatically shudders at anything even vaguely epic or women’s fiction-y, so you can count me surprised out of my knickers when I realized that I was enjoying Hot Shot immensely.
Susannah Faulconer has been perfect all her life. She got good marks, became the perfect hostess for her stepfather, and saved her virginity for her older fiancé. But inside she cries for something more, and when the young visionary Sam Gamble roars into her life on a Harley, she’ll never be the same again. He taps into her innermost passions until she makes a break from her former life, joining him in his mission to change the world. Sam’s quest? The personal computer.
You read that right. This book isn’t about movie stars, industrialists, politicians, or athletes, although they do become stinking rich. It’s about Silicon Valley in the late 70s and early 80s, and, for a self-confessed geek and gadget lover, this has more hooks than Velcro. Ms. Phillips sets Susannah’s story amidst the fictional and factual giants who revolutionized the computer industry with the personal computer. It is fascinating, original, inspiring, and downright scary when you realize how many of the so-called fanciful ideas became reality thirty years later.
The setting almost overshadows our heroine, but luckily she holds her own. Susannah changes immensely over the years and her transformation into a confident woman is a pleasure to read. Her happy ending is only one step in a long journey that began at an early age, travels through her troubles with her sister and her stepfather, and continues with her romantic entanglements. While not an A-grade heroine, Susannah is interesting and sympathetic.
My quibbles are relatively minor. Susannah’s hero is less interesting than her other choice, and the revelation of their love came suddenly and jarringly. There is also quite a bit of head-hopping that breaks the story flow. And, while I appreciate the secondary romance involving Susannah’s sister Paige, I wish she had not been drawn in such devastatingly generic lines – inner good girl who wants her father’s love but becomes a slut. Humph.
But even so, the book is worth reading for the setting alone. Silicon Valley in those years would have been one of the most delirious places on earth, and now I can live it.