|Title: Hot Mama
Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Bigtime #2
Cover Art: N/A
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Reviewed by: Julia
Explicit sex scenes.
Good – A fun read with minor flaws. Maybe read an excerpt before buying.
Fiona Fine is the hottest fashion designer in Bigtime, N.Y. – literally. That’s because she moonlights as Fiera, a superhero with superstrength and volatile, fire-based powers. As Fiera, she’s also a member of the Fearless Five, the city’s most powerful and popular superhero team.
However, Fiona’s been through a lot lately, including the death of her fiance, who was murdered by an ubervillain. But Fiona is ready to move on with her life, so it seems like good karma when she meets sexy businessman Johnny Bulluci at a friend’s wedding.
But Fiona has little time to think of love thanks to Siren and Intelligal – the city’s newest ubervillains who crash the wedding and then go on a citywide crime spree. Fiona doesn’t know exactly what the ubervillains are up to, but if she doesn’t figure it out, she’s the one who just might go up in flames this time …
A skinny fashionista that eats everything in sight? An only child who doesn’t play well with others? A name dropping insider to the world of superheros? I was worried that over-the-top, in-your-face Fiona Fine was going to be a hard sell as a sympathetic heroine, but Fiona’s loyalties and vulnerabilities won me over very early in the book.
On top of learning to love Fiona, Estep matches her up with Johnny Bulluci, a flashy hero with “heartthrob playboy” written all over him. Rather than dampen Fiona’s personality, he compliments it, and I enjoyed watching these two go head to head. Johnny’s grief over his father’s murder allows Fiona to demonstrate how much she’s grown since KARMA GIRL, further cementing my girl crush. Though my concerns about Fiona as a sympathetic heroine turned out to be unwarranted, her narration of the story ultimately didn’t work for me. The switch from an outsider narrator in KARMA GIRL to Fiona’s “superhero born and bred” perspective led to a deluge of Bigtime name dropping, which amped up the silliness of the novel over all. That humor was, unfortunately, hit or miss for me. Add to that some obvious (and acknowledged) misses on the “Who’s got a secret identity?” question, and HOT MAMA wasn’t able to stand up to KARMA GIRL in my estimation (though to Fiona’s defense, you’d go nuts assuming *everyone* has a cape and a secret identity).
While those few shortcomings knocked the book down a bat for me, I found Fiona and her Johnny charming enough to carry me through to the end (and their chemistry is noteworthy enough to warrant a look if you’re on the fence). I’ll leave it up to book three in the series, JINX, to see if the Bigtime series overall works for me. Maybe a heroine born to a superhero family without the useful powers will be the perfect mix of insider/outsider narration for me.