It took me a while to get into superheroes.
I remember reading Vicki Petterson’s THE SCENT OF SHADOWS way back when it first came out (just checked and it was 2007 – now that makes me feel old…), and feeling distinctly unimpressed by the number of life-changing events that the heroine experienced in the space of one book (in hindsight, that book was probably designed as the origin story for the protagonist). Then, well, came Marvel’s Avengers movies (shallow, moi?) which opened up this whole new world of superheroes/villains for me. More recently, Brandon Sanderson wrote a couple of superhero-based novels which… I quite enjoyed, and I started to get a feel for some of the tropes of the comic book world (at this point, I imagine some true-blue comic book fans are raising their eyebrows and thinking “seriously..???” – hey, everyone has to start somewhere, okay?).
So as I’m no longer the superhero-averse reader that I was eight years ago, when Alex Gabriel asked me if I was interested in a review copy of her M/M romance LOVE FOR THE COLD-BLOODED, I scanned through the blurb and excerpt, and thought “heck yes, it sounds like a lot of superhero fun”.
Superheroes. Evil minions. And one hell of a conflict of interest.
Being related to a supervillain isn’t a big deal to Pat West. So what if his mom occasionally tries to take over the world? All Pat wants is to finish university and become an urban designer. That he moonlights as an evil minion sometimes – that’s just a family tradition.
Then Pat accidentally sleeps with superhero Silver Paladin, otherwise known as reclusive billionaire Nick Andersen. It’s a simple misunderstanding. Pat never means to impersonate a prostitute, honest. But soon Pat is in way over his head, and threatening to fall for the worst possible guy.
When Pat’s mother returns to bring the world to its knees, Silver Paladin races to stop her… and all of Pat’s secrets threaten to blow up in his face. How can Pat reconcile being a minion with wanting a hero? Will Nick’s feelings for Pat overcome what keeps them apart? Or will they both lose everything?
“Love for the Cold-Blooded” is a light-hearted jaunt through a world of superheroes and villains, android dolphins, mind control rays, eldritch artifacts stolen from the tombs of ancient gods, and young men loving not wisely, but well.
The alternative title for the book is “The Part-Time Evil Minion’s Guide to Accidentally Dating a Superhero”, which pretty much captures both the plot and the tone of the book (actually, it works a lot better than the more generic title of LOVE FOR THE COLD-BLOODED, which implies a vampire story?). Like a lot of people out there, Patrick West really doesn’t want to go into the family business – it just so happens his family’s business is super-villainy. He’s keeping his head down, working his way through university, and hoping it’ll become clear somehow that his plans don’t align with the plans his family has for him. And while his part-time job is in the Silver Paladin’s household, it’s in a really lowly capacity and the Silver Paladin isn’t even aware that Pat works for him. And then when, through a series of misunderstandings, he ends up sleeping with
the Silver Paladin Nick, it turns out to be something that could be more than a one-night stand, and Pat really needs to figure out how to reconcile his opposing lives.
The book really got going for me when Pat’s carefully-constructed house of cards start falling down (it was going to, of course!). From then onwards, it’s a fantastic action-packed romp through superhero/villain land, all leading up to an excellently OTT final showdown scene. I loved the supervillain setup – the behind-the-scenes preparation that the supervillains (or challengers, as they prefer to call themselves) put into place for their (not) evil schemes was hilariously organised, for example, minion rotations, selections, and assignments.
It did take me a couple of chapters to get into the book – possibly a pacing thing as the book’s on the longer side (~135k words). Also, the first sex scene caught me by surprise early on. I think I had figured this for a YA book based on Pat’s voice (dude! cool! etc), and then the steam level upped the book to adults-only very quickly. I found the juxtaposition somewhat jarring at the start, but ended up going with the flow. Which was easy to do – the writing’s smooth and Pat’s a easy-to-like protagonist, self-deprecating and snarky. He may not want to be an evil minion, but he still takes pride in doing a job well.
Nick/Silver Paladin was harder for me to pin down, especially as we only see him through Pat’s eyes – he was more of a two-dimensional character. On the other hand, Pat’s family dynamics were masses of fun. Pat is the youngest of four siblings and the only boy, so he’s had a lot of practice with managing interfering sisters who make their presence felt. Plus despite Mum being the feared Serpentissma and Dad her right-hand man, there’s a lot of love in the family, which was great.
If you’re after something slightly different in the M/M romance genre, and especially if you fancy a superhero story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, this is the book for you. I had a lot of fun reading LOVE FOR THE COLD-BLOODED, and will have to check out Alex Gabriel’s backlist now.
Review copy courtesy of author