Hot Head - Damon Suede A stayed-up-til-5AM read, and I loved it.

This book was just a wonderful and page-turning story that combined unrequited love with friends-to-lovers into a unique and explosive package. It's told entirely from the angsty goodness POV of NYFD fireman Griffin Muir. Griff is an incredibly sympathetic character who was a first responder for the September 11th attacks and who, since panicking over the thought of losing his best friend, Dante, on that day, has realized he is in love with Dante. We can't help but bond with Griff's character as he struggles to hide the depth of his feelings, which he's sure cannot possibly be reciprocated as Dante is a notorious womanizer. When Dante approaches Griff with an unusual proposal to pull Dante out of financial difficulties, Griff is torn between (a) helping Dante and, at the same time, seizing that which he secretly has wanted all of these years and (b) the fear and guilt that he would be taking advantage of his best friend in an unforgivable way. This story portrays a partnership that began as a deep brotherly bond and that ends up as an unexpected and passionate love.

I'm pretty much a newbie to m/m stories, so I approached this book a little cautiously, given the racy description of the pornographic proposal. Objectively, the book wasn't really as graphic as I had expected, and it was quite emotionally fulfilling in the physical scenes it did include. There was a 10+-page kiss at one point that had me practically glued to the screen. For a parallel, I'd put the steam factor at an Elizabeth Hoyt or a naughtier Lisa Kleypas level.

In all fairness, I don't think the blurb does justice to the book. It sounds seedier and much more single-mindedly sex-focused than it really is. There's a lot going on here beyond the m/m sex aspect (even though that itself is a large part, too). We have unrequited love, friends-to-lovers, heavier issues such as gay bashing, some PTSD aspects with the events of September 11th, the gritty life in a firehouse, blue collar struggles, and more, all of which contributed in making this book a full-bodied and engaging story. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I thank all of the many GR folks who recommended it (and Erin for lending it to me!).