Lili Valente’s the perfect One-Click author for every mood you’re in from Sexy & Adorable Romantic Comedy to BDSM Erotic. In “Hot As Puck” we are squarely in the Adorable and Sexy range and it’s a delicious place to be. Lili Valente can write Alpha Anti-Heroes, Charming Flirty Heroes, and Humorous Alpha Heroes, she’s that dexterous and they’re all fabulous. “Hot As Puck” gives us Justin Cruise, a charming, flirty, funny, crocheting, hockey-playing Hero. In some ways Justin wants to settle down. But finding someone, as a professional hockey player. who wants him for him is going to be difficult. Justin is kind, honorable, comical, and so, so sexy. He grew up with, and remains friends with, sisters Laura and Libby Collins who were his next-door neighbors. The younger sister, Libby, taught him how to crochet when he was in high school and got him hooked. ;).
Libby’s the quintessential kindergarten teacher who wears comfortable clothes and items she’s knitted or crocheted for herself. She’s awkward and innocent. Her last serious boyfriend abruptly decided to become a priest while dating her; Libby’s basically scarred. Whenever she finds herself talking to a man she could be interested in she internally freaks out. When Libby realizes that she and a man are actually flirting she starts over-thinking and ends up verbally pratfalling. Or literally face-plants. She subconsciously self-sabotages herself. No one realizes just how innocent Libby is, not even her sister. In desperation she goes to Justin for help. Lili Valente keeps the pace moving with fantastic humor, amazing sex, and adorably swoony romance. The storyline of friends to lovers is always a good one. Lili Valente describes how close and precious Libby and Justin’s friendship is, the conflict in “Hot as Puck” is air-tight.
Justin’s birthday is not going well. His girlfriend planned the party at a trendy rooftop hot spot, with posh food, open bar, and lots of people. It’s not what he would have planned for himself although she got the booze right. It’s actually a crap-tastic birthday. Justin breaks up with his girlfriend during the party, he hates the food and could do without half the people. He’d rather be in his jammies with a pizza, a ball of yarn and his crochet hook. But his two childhood friends are there. Laura, is a few martinis into thinking breaking and entering is a good idea. Her more responsible younger sister, Libby, will be able to see everything he feels written right on Justin’s face. Justin then notices that Libby’s not wearing her usual hippie-chic look. Libby’s wearing make-up a tight tank top and leather pants.
It’s extremely troubling to Justin, that he can’t stop staring at Libby’s chest. Is she wearing a bra or not? This is a girl he intimidates other guys from touching, not fantasizing about doing dirty, dirty things himself to her. Just when he’s getting a good freak-out going on she asks him to teach her about Sex. How to flirt, date, seduce. Justin doesn’t know how to handle this and it seems that whatever he says is the wrong thing. Libby takes offense thinking that he means she’s not attractive of desirable. So when she sits at the bar and one of Justin’s teammates starts talking to her. Libby realizes that this handsome hockey player is flirting with her. But then her mind starts racing, self-doubting, and brings her close to wrecking her banter.
Justin’s the one to bust it up, telling the rookie to keep his hands off his sister. Libby doesn’t understand why she feels extremely hurt that Justin claims her to be his sister. She feels an odd electric charge she’s never felt before when Justin pulls her away from Tanner, the rookie. When Tanner says he didn’t know Justin had a sister Justin scrambles saying he never said Libby was his sister. To which both Libby and Tanner say he did. Regardless, in the end Justin agrees to help Libby with lessons. The next day things seem back to normal, with Libby in her normal clothes. Justin only notices a few glimpses of her cleavage and how thin her top looks. Plus Justin’s letting his crochet-geek flag fly drooling over a Star Wars themed crochet book.
Libby explains to Justin she wants these lessons not for random men but for one man in particular. She’s crushing on the school’s Assistant Principal. Everything Libby says about Roger makes Justin hate him more and more. Things get out of control during a meditation exercise and Libby starts freaking out. Justin kisses her which becomes a serious making out session. He points out that she makes him hard, she makes him want to be with her. This leads towards an orgasm that Libby leaps up and runs away from. Justin thinks he’s ruined everything, that he’s lost Libby’s precious friendship because of meaningless lust. Libby is concerned that Justin is in love with her and she doesn’t feel that way about him. They talk and realize neither want a commitment; he can provide experience and she can provide a no-expectation rebound.
The trick is to keep their Friends-with-Benefits arrangement a secret from her overprotective sister. Justin agrees to go as slow as Libby needs even though his mind is a-whirl with a non-stop smut-filled slideshow. As promised they ease into orgasm-filled evenings, everything but sex. Despite how things started out slowly possessiveness and thoughts of futures together start invading their brains. After they spend a night not just having sex but making love, they independently realize they’re each in love. Unfortunately, Libby’s sister discovers them and drives seeds of doubt that their sexual relationship will last. She also makes it clear that this will probably destroy their vital and meaningful friendship. Libby is bracing herself to get the brush off from Justin. She decides to prepare for spending the rest of her life in a loveless relationship. Unless there’s a Grand Gesture waiting in the wings.
“Hot as Puck” is wonderful and refreshing in it’s simple romantic Friends-to-Lovers storyline. Lili Valente creates solid, charming, and lovable characters and a light romantic comedy. “Hot As Puck” isn’t slapstick or non-stop belly laughs but it’s giggles and smiles entertaining. The secondary characters are also tightly constructed. They are laying a firm foundation for subsequent installments in this Bad Motherpuckers series. Laura and Brendan are obviously the next couple and I’m hoping that Tanner Nowicki gets his own book as well. You think that Justin’s crochet habit’s just a kooky quirk, but as he says, “There’s a method to his madness”. Read to find out.
I’m giving “Hot As Puck” 5 Lightning Bolts and a Storm Warning.
This novel was provided, voluntarily read, and honestly reviewed.