Release Review: HOTLINE: Quinn Anderson

Quinn Anderson
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Released October 31, 2016
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Zack never intended to become a phone sex operator, but with half a college degree and a smart mouth, his options were limited. It helps that he has a knack for thinking on his feet and a willingness to roll with whatever his clients throw at him. Sure, he gets his fair share of creeps and unconventional requests, but it pays the bills, and he’s in no danger of breaking his one rule: never fall for a client.

Until a man named “John” starts calling, and Zack finds himself interested in more than a paycheck. It’s not just that John has money, or that his rumbling baritone drives Zack wild. He’s everything Zack isn’t: educated, poised, and in total control of his life.

A twist of fate brings them face-to-face, and now that they’ve seen each other—and spent an unforgettable night together—they can’t go back to the way things were. A sex worker and a trust fund brat . . . It’s like Romeo and Juliet, but with less stabbing and slightly fewer dick jokes. Hopefully they can pull off a more successful ending.

Hotline is my first exposure to author Quinn Anderson, and it (mostly) fits nicely into the mold made famous by Harlequin: uncomplicated, warm-and-fuzzy, fun (and perhaps funny), low-angst, low-drama reads that work as well for single sittings as they do for situations where your attention could be diverted without warning. I say “mostly” for a couple of reasons, which I’ll get to in the review, but as a whole, I enjoyed the book enough to recommend it, though some changes would have made it better.

Every so often, the blurb of a book I receive an offer to read for review jumps out at me as something I’ll really enjoy. Romance readers all have their likes and dislikes, and one of my big likes is the promise of dirty-talking men. Of course a book about a phone-sex operator (PSO) having more than just a professional interest in one of his clients sounded like it would fit that bill nicely. So I jumped at Hotline without really thinking much about what sort of plot the book might have.

The book is written entirely from the third-person perspective of the PSO, Zack, who is in his early twenties and dropped out of college not because he wasn’t smart enough for it but because he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. Verbally masturbating men for $3.99 a minute isn’t exactly what he had in mind, nor is it something he shares with his family or most of his friends, but it keeps him from being completely broke, and he’s good at it because he’s a quick thinker who is willing to go with whatever his clients throw at him (in spite of the occasionally creepy caller or highly unusual request). Everything is fine until he gets a call from John, and right from the start, Zack feels very differently about him than any other caller he has talked dirty to in the past. John is a bit of an enigma for most of the book, because we never get his point of view unless he’s speaking. But he’s much the opposite of Zack: he’s loaded, training to be a lawyer, cultured, elegant, and knows exactly what he wants in life. 

Of course, Zack doesn’t know any of this for much of the book. He only knows how John’s silky baritone voice and the little noises he makes on the phone affect him. The nature of their relationship means sex happens early and often, and it’s entirely through dirty talk and role-playing (and worked quite well to satisfy my love of that fantasy *grin*), until a chance encounter results in their meeting face-to-face when they recognize each other’s voices in a bar. From there, based on the setup of the story, the rest of it is fairly predictable, including the source of conflict for the pair.

As I hinted earlier, Hotline has the makings of a Harlequin-style romance. There are some big differences, though, that were problematic to my level of enjoyment. First of all, the novel is significantly longer than the typical Harlequin—this runs just short of 5000 on Kindle length (the publisher lists it at 347 pages), compared to most in this style of romance running about 3000 (about 200 pages in paperback). This is an issue because if light and fluffy stories like this one go too long, there just isn’t enough stuff there to keep it from dragging. In this case, I found I had to force myself not to skim the further into the story I got because it really was too long for the style of plot. There are several scenes that jump to mind that could have been shortened or cut out entirely in order to fix this, in my opinion. The second problem will sound a little contradictory after pointing out the book being too long: the story screams for an epilogue that was not there. Harlequin stories rely on the warm and fuzzy happily ever after, and here we barely get a reconciling happy-for-now. Zack was going through so many big changes at the end of the story that the failure to address them with an epilogue left me feeling cheated.

That being said, Hotline is worth the read, though don’t feel ashamed if you want to skim parts of it. There’s plenty of heat, especially in the first half, but the length of the novel made the overall romance feel a little thin.

The author generously provided me a complimentary copy of Hotline in exchange for this fair and honest review.

Quinn Anderson
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Quinn Anderson earned a Master's degree from the University of Dublin in Ireland and is also a University of Florida alumna with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She began writing books, poetry, and fan fiction at 14 years of age and was first published at 19. Her favorite authors include J.K. Rowling, Gail Carson Levine, Libba Bray, Tamorra Pierce, and T.A. Barron. A nerd extraordinaire, Quinn gets ideas from video games, anime, comic books, card games on motorcycles, and tabletop games. Quinn's favorite thing to write is witty dialogue, and her favorite thing to read is a slow burn. 


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