Not Your Average Hot Guy by Gwenda Bond Paranormal Romance October 5, 2021 by St. Martin's Griffin Reviewed by Kate
If a description for a book tells me the book is hilarious, I generally hope that I actually laugh while reading it. Unfortunately, that was not the case for Not Your Average Hot Guy. I went into it expecting a fun romantic comedy (not unfairly, in my opinion, since the description mentions that it’s a romantic comedy twice) but I do not think it lived up to that claim.
Not Your Average Hot Guy is the story of Callie, who just graduated from college and is living at home with her mom, helping run the family escape room business, and Luke, the son of the devil. Callie’s mom goes out of town for a weekend, leaving her in charge, and of course, this is when a satanic cult decides to break into the escape room and steal what Callie thought was just a prop book but turns out to be a powerful grimoire. In the process, the cult kidnaps Callie and her friend Mag, taking them to a creepy house in the country. The cult intends to summon a different demon, but for plot reasons, Luke gets sent instead. Luke is on a deadline to retrieve souls to prove himself to his father, and after failing to correctly bargain with the cult for their souls, ends up going with Callie in an attempt to prevent the apocalypse that will happen if the cult gets their hands on the magical item they want.
My biggest issue with this book is that it is all over the place. All of the action happens in less than a weekend, and there is a lot of action, but the romance and character development suffer as a result. I normally don’t have any problems with a madcap, zany plot, but at a certain point, it felt like stuff was just getting shoved in willy-nilly to give Luke and Callie something to do. But what they don’t do is spend any time talking to each other beyond discussing the next step in their plan to end the apocalypse. For example, Luke lies to Callie about multiple things, and one time (when she figures out he lied about his identity!) Callie literally “waves her hand in dismissal.” As a reader, I couldn’t get a handle on why Luke and Callie would want to be together, since they don’t really know each other.
Normally, in a paranormal romance, world-building isn’t a huge focus, because the story is based in our world, with paranormal aspects. But Not Your Average Hot Guy doesn’t even handle our world very well. To be honest, the book lost me when Callie and Luke teleport from Portugal, where there is a full moon above them, to Lexington, Kentucky (five hours behind) where the sun is coming up. Maybe this is a ridiculous thing to get caught up on, but it is also the culmination of a series of events that didn’t seem to understand how time or cross-Atlantic travel works. The paranormal aspects don’t feel fleshed out either – for example, there’s a sentence or two about how Luke doesn’t have his wings yet, which is weird for a demon his age, but I didn’t really get why it was an issue. Then when his wings do show up, it doesn’t have the emotional impact that I feel the moment was intended to, because there just wasn’t enough detail to build on.
One of my other problems with Not Your Average Hot Guy is that the characters feel even younger than their real age. I did appreciate that Luke isn’t one of those hundreds of years old immortal beings we normally see in paranormal romance, falling in love with a much younger woman, so at least there is that. But Callie and Luke come across as very young and immature (with the accompanying not yet fully developed brains and bad decisions), and because of the book’s focus on the plot, they don’t seem to grow over the course of the book, especially Luke. I have never previously thought of a male character in a romance novel as “too stupid to live,” but there’s a first time for everything, apparently.
I want to say that I may have had a better experience with Not Your Average Hot Guy if the description had given me a clearer idea of what to expect (“new adult” age characters, not such an emphasis on funniness, etc.) but then I go back to the factually incorrect use of time zones and I’m not so sure. I was really looking forward to reading this book, and I am sad to say that overall, it was a disappointing reading experience.