by Damon Suede
(Book One in the "Head" series)
Release date: 15 June 2011 (Dreamspinner Press)
Where there's smoke there's fire.
Since 9/11, Brooklyn firefighter Griff Muir has wrestled with impossible feelings for his best friend and partner at Ladder 181: Dante Anastagio. Unfortunately Dante is strictly a ladies' man and the FDNY isn’t exactly gay-friendly. For 10 years, Griff has hidden his heart in a half-life of public heroics and private anguish.
Griff’s caution and Dante’s cockiness make them an unbeatable team. To protect his buddy, there’s nothing Griff wouldn’t do… until Dante is nearly bankrupt and proposes the worst possible solution: HotHead.com, a gay-porn website where uniformed hunks get down-n-dirty… Now Dante wants them to appear there-- together.
Griff may have to guard his heart and live out his darkest fantasies on camera. Can he rescue the man he loves without wrecking their careers, their families, or their friendship?
Hot Head is a homoerotic romance about that moment when you must stand strong, tell truth, and love like you're dying.
If you're interested about the true story that inspired the book, I've written about it here.
Named by Goodreads as one of the "Top 100 Romance Novels of All Time" on a 2014 list that included Gone with the Wind, Outlander, Jane Eyre, and Sense & Sensibility.
Named in Bustle's "13 Romance Novels That Should be On Every Woman's Bucket List" in Fall 2015.
Picked by Romantic Times as one of their Favorite Firefighters in romance on 9/11/2012.
“Hot Head starts with a slow, yearning, pining build, and ends in a conflagration. This was everything I wanted a romance to be: sweet, sexy, touching, angsty, and about best friends who are deeply committed to each other as friends on so many levels before they ever touch each other.” (Courtney Milan, NY Times and USA Today Bestselling author of the Brothers Sinister series)
"5+ stars… Desert Island Keeper... Hot Head is a book you will want to savour...a plot that grips you and makes your stomach ache... an unforgettable story... gritty... raw... delicious... I felt as if I was living this story rather than reading it. The city was alive and the atmosphere sparkled underneath the mosaic that made up the Big Apple… Hot Head is more than a romance… Everything in the book is on a grand scale with no apologies. Entertaining, vibrant and original, the writing is fresh, the protagonists kick butt, and oh! Before I forget, the sex is off the chart. Hot Head kept me on the brink and will stay with me for a long time. Highly recommended." (reviews at jessewave)
"Up front, this is one of the best M/M romances I have read lately... The story is simple but hot as hell, the sex is so good I probably for the first time in a long, long period, read it all instead of “mentally” skimming it... It had that level of romanticism that makes your heart ache good... What I really loved of this novel is that both Griffin and Dante are men in one piece, there are no half measures, either you totally love or you don’t love, and when they make a decision, their love is full and complete, without exceptions. I strongly recommend this novel to all romance lovers, I’m sure you will love it as much as I did." (Elisa’s Reviews and Ramblings)
“Awarded the Golden Nib: for books that knock our socks off!
I had high hopes going into this read… and I was not disappointed. It's magical and beautiful even when it gets down and dirty and completely gutter-talk raunchy. Or maybe especially then, because that's who these guys are. Not only is there hot sex, but it is hot, emotional sex, just what we female readers love, and I'd dare say one or two guys reading this story will put it on their one-hand-read shelf. I rate the first kiss in this book as the hottest, sweetest, best first kisses I've ever had the pleasure to read… The one thing this book has that no other does is Mr. Damon Suede and his unique and authentic voice… I will definitely recommend this read as a raw, emotional, very hot, worth-every-penny read. I've re-read it three times now, and reading it over so close together, it should get old, but it hasn't. That's Golden Nib worthy!" (Miss Love Loves Books)
"Hot Head by Damon Suede Gets
You Hot Under the Collar!
"Hot Head by Damon Suede Gets You Hot Under the Collar!
Hot Head is Suede’s first incursion into the
gay romance genre and what an incursion it is...
This is not your run-of-the-mill gay romance. All
of the usual formulas apply: friends-to-lovers, gay-for-you,
out-for-you, gay-for-money, all of this with the hottest,
most steamy homoerotic sex scenes I’ve read, and yet…the
story is about none of that and so much more than that...
All of this takes place in a New York described so vividly
that it took this reader away from the real world for hours
at a time. That, my fellow readers, doesn’t happen to me
very often, and I cherish it. This book completely
fulfilled all of my requirements for a 5-star romance read…
If you are ready to be scorched, read it!" (Viv Santos at
Hot Head is Suede’s first incursion into the gay romance genre and what an incursion it is... This is not your run-of-the-mill gay romance. All of the usual formulas apply: friends-to-lovers, gay-for-you, out-for-you, gay-for-money, all of this with the hottest, most steamy homoerotic sex scenes I’ve read, and yet…the story is about none of that and so much more than that... All of this takes place in a New York described so vividly that it took this reader away from the real world for hours at a time. That, my fellow readers, doesn’t happen to me very often, and I cherish it. This book completely fulfilled all of my requirements for a 5-star romance read… If you are ready to be scorched, read it!" (Viv Santos at Queer’d Magazine)
"Five stars! This is not just a love story, but the author also observes tough topics like gay bashing and New York fire fighters experiences from 9/11. I loved so many quotes from this book; Mr. Suede has such an ability to paint a picture. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel; the storyline was compelling, the sex scenes hot and emotionally driven. But, what made this book even better than just a love story was its realistic look at living in New York as gay firefighters. The author dealt with serious issues like gay bashing and 9/11 without getting maudlin or overbearing. This is a must read book." (Bea’s Hive)
By a third of the way into this book I already had that love/hate thing going on that I relish. I loved the emotional content, the grip-you-by-the-gut angst, and the very real and difficult aftermath of being one who survived a terrible ordeal when others, friends, didn’t… Every trope was wrapped up in Griff’s gruff longing, and Mr. Suede’s unique, fascinating voice and made, if not new, at least wildly entertaining and fresh…. Add to all this the zingingly fast prose, the raunchy voice, the down and dirty need oozing out of every thought Griff has, and smeared all over the page in gritty dialogue and plain, no-muss language, and all the way through this, I knew I should have been getting on with my own business, but I just could not put this book down.” (Laurel at Readers’ Roundtable)
"Four out of four stars!
This isn’t just about sex. It’s about unrequited love; it’s about sexy firemen and how the world stills holds them aloft as heroes after the horrible events of 9/11. It’s about being unsure, pain, fear, tragedy and discovery. But most endearing to me, it’s about friendship, the foundation of a strong relationship. I’m not going to tell you anything else except that you gotta buy it and read it! Guaranteed…" (Stephen Jackson for TLAGay.com)
“Talk about steamy hot men and lots of emotion! You've got it and more in Hot Head. This story revolves a great deal around 9-11 and I've got to say it really adds to the story. The work is written in an exuberant, fast-paced manner. I couldn't put it down once I picked it up. Damon Suede writes a great mix of comedy and heart. I felt like I was right there, practically inside Griff's skin as he dealt with his life and feelings. And sex? Oh my...I had to find a fan and a cool drink... It was so worth it. Damon Suede's writing really shines when Griff and Dante get horizontal. If you want a heartwarming story, filled with lots of heat in all sorts of ways, grab a copy of Hot Head.” (Nymphaea for Whipped Cream Reviews)
Damon Suede’s first novel, Hot
Head is one of those books you will either love or hate…
Why did I love the book? Two words: Griff Muir. He’s
complex character… one of those characters that you
empathize with from the first page… by page 320, he was my
hero…. New York City
shines, as do Griff and Dante – they are real guys, act
like jerks, curse, make mistakes – and the sex between the
two? Whoa. Mr. Suede
takes their lovemaking to a new level of hotness…
I loved Hot Head and recommend it highly. The two main
protagonists leap off the page and every aspect of their
characterizations felt authentic. Damon Suede
has delivered a page turner of a freshman novel and
if Hot Head was amazing, then I eagerly await his second book. "
"(Lasha at Dark Divas)
"FIVE STARS! A coming-out m/m romance whose heroes are truly straight, not merely rugged and closeted… I would guess that the emotional content is more than enough to melt the hearts of female readers; as a male, I can state with certainty that the graphic sex scenes are enough to arouse all but the most doggedly straight men. … I can recommend this book without hesitation to both one- and two-handed readers. Couples will enjoy it, too." (Stanley Ridge for Wilde Oats)
"96/100 points (highest rating ever on the site), Five stars and recommended readA powerful, epic, bold romance. Makes you wait for love/sex, but truly delivers. Strong characters…Very erotic. Very emotional. The unrequited love is so wrenching [and the] final union is so earned and worthwhile." (Book Robot Reviews)
(this scene from Chapter Two is a flashback to the events of September 11, 2001)
“10-60 has been transmitted for the World Trade Center, 10-60 for the World Trade Center.”
Soon as the planes hit, every FDNY house had sprinted for the Twin Towers. Trucks poured into lower Manhattan, threading through the insanity in the streets. Smoke everywhere. Ash falling. Jumpers. Carnage. Streets muffled under shredded paper, shin-deep. People wandering dazed, covered in grit, stumbling in a thick gray blizzard. Shuffling armies of wage slaves trying to get home, to get to a phone, to get off the fucking island before it sank.
To find the eight engines and five trucks required for a major emergency, dispatch had pulled units from Brooklyn and Queens. Griff’s engine had been one of the first on the scene ’cause they were just over the river. Even after the second plane hit, the crews were hauling ass to get people out safely, to contain the situation. Twenty-five engines, sixteen trucks, probably six battalions. No one expected the Towers to actually come down; a lot of guys had rushed inside trying to get civilians out.
Then—motherfuck—World Trade 2 did exactly that, and then it was worse than anything any of them had ever seen.
Griff had been street level, humping hose into 90 Church Street, when he heard a boom and a strange roar, and then this black cloud slammed through the streets, chasing them. Rubble and paper churning around him, he tried to outrun the pitch dark, but it caught him and threw him through a plateglass window, so he had to crawl blind through the smoldering fog to the rig. Zero visibility on a sunny morning.
The Big Apple lost its mind.
Command was wiped out. Hundreds of men missing. Griff was helping do search and recover with his crew in the subway at Cortlandt Street when he heard Dante’s name on the radio, some emergency call from the site of the north tower before it went too.
Without thinking, Griff called the Anastagios, or tried to—two hours after the crash there was still no cell service, and phone lines were crippled with people wanting answers and people calling their families to say goodbye from inside the wreckage. Still no count of the victims and wounded and what was the point, really? He tried to call his wife, same deal. They were in a bubble down here.
Dante could have been anywhere. Apparently, closer in you could still hear victims trapped beneath the rubble, begging for help. The news stations figured it was World War Three. Nobody knew anything yet. The body count might be as high as 20,000; the whole city scrabbled to get a straight answer.
Griff just put one foot in front of the other and tried to save a few folks, letting the eyewash stations clean his soot-caked eyes over and over so he could keep searching. He heard other planes had gone down, in Washington, but it was hard to tell and facts were thin on the ground. Some monster had punched a hole in New York, and hope was draining out of it into the river. Here he was, trying to find one person in the thick of it, feeling as blind and dumb and useless as anyone. Some fucking hero.
Griff picked his way in as close as he could to the Pit to keep an eye out. World Trade Center 7 collapsed in the early evening. Praying he’d hear Dante’s name again from someone down here, he worked with the crews that whole night like a zombie, his face gray under the ash. Everyone choking on the smell of acetylene torches and worse. Looking for his best friend and helping a few lost souls along the way. Thousands of people searching for family and coworkers who’d literally disappeared into thin air.
Griff cut people out of cars and carried people to the ambulances. He rescued a starved Labrador with a broken leg, trapped in a deli licking milk off the linoleum. He found a pregnant paralegal shuffling barefoot in the powdered concrete, her shoes lost, her eyes lost, and pointed her toward the Bridge so she could walk home to her kids.
No one had seen Dante since that call from the second tower, but Griff kept asking and looking and listening for that one name, day and night and day. Thirty-seven straight hours with no sleep, and then Griff tore his hand open trying to lift a mailbox off a corpse in a $1,600 suit. He didn’t even notice he was bleeding till one of the paramedics was in his face shouting at him.
Shock. He was in shock.
They put him in an ambulance and herded him to one of the emergency tents that had bloomed like miracles around Ground Zero. People groaning and whimpering and choking on the dust. He couldn’t feel anything. Some wetneck resident in scrubs sewed his hand together and told him to go home; instead, he went looking through Hell for Dante.
* * *
It took five hours and most of his sanity.
“Are you family?” The army reserve nurse eyed his pasty skin and bright hair. Her eyes scanned a clipboard quickly. She flipped a page of scrawled notes.
They were walking through the wide, echoing hallways at Bellevue where there seemed to be acres of grimy patients on gurneys squirming slowly like someone had lifted a rock and shone a painful light on grubs. Clusters of weeping, frantic families who thought the world might end at any minute, desperate just to say goodbye and love.
“Brother.” Griff knew he looked insane. His mauled hand itched.
She tapped her notes. “He was pinned in a stairwell, but he dragged himself and his partner out a vent in time. Crazy mofo, sounds like.”
“You have no idea.”
They turned a corner and everything was suddenly okay.
Dante lay curled on his side, his black hair dusty and the top half of his face livid with bruises and long scratches. The paramedics had cut him out of his clothes, and the gown was bunched over his sooty hip. Dante’s eyes and hands twitched, dreaming. His curved lips seemed too red and too dark, like a tattoo of a mouth. He coughed in his sleep, and somehow it was Dante’s voice coughing, even from across the room.
Griff would’ve known it anywhere, and he almost pissed his pants he was so relieved, choking on lungfuls of air as he went to his best friend.
Dit-dit-dit. The nurse’s pager went off, and she headed back into the groaning sea of gurneys in the vast hallway; she didn’t even look at Griff, and he wouldn’t have noticed if she had. Griff’s strong legs suddenly gave out, and he went down on a knee by the thin cot.
Thank you, God. Thank you, God.
He wished Dante would make another sound, any sound. He leaned over that tired face just to hear him breathing, the exact music of Dante’s breath. Kneeling so close, he wanted to put his dusty ear to his friend’s chest to hear the miraculous lub-dub of Dante still living.
You asshole. Had to be a fuckin’ hero—
Griff’s blunt fingers fumbled over Dante’s wrist and took his rough hand. Suddenly he knew New York was gonna be okay. They were all going to survive.
Dante shifted a little, just barely squeezed back, and made one of those comfortable grunts in the back of his throat. Like someone had made a joke in his dream and he was gonna start laughing.
Griff’s bright hair stood on end and his heart was suddenly too huge and too hot for his ribs, beating against its cage.
- Plip -
Something wet fell on their linked knuckles making the ash and grit run and Griff realized that he was crying-crying-crying and he didn’t know how to stop it felt so good to let the tears slide free and clean… the acid draining out of his head so it could stop burning. His mouth open and weeping ’cause a hole had been punched in him. Big gulps of disinfected air and his thick right knee bouncing with the last of his nerves. He couldn’t make himself stand up.
He raised his other hand to smooth Dante’s ragged, matted hair so he could see and then froze, because who knew what kind of injuries there might be. He couldn’t move, his stitched, pale hand hovering over Dante’s olive forehead, over the eyelashes inky soft against his cheek.
Griff watched his torn hand pull back slowly, like it belonged to a stranger. Would they let him stay? He was in shock, right? He had a right to be in the hospital. If the doctors wanted to move him, they could fuck off. He stiffened like a feral dog guarding pups.
Dante squeezed his fingers again, just barely, like a dream.
The relief was so sharp it made him gasp.
Nose running, Griff used his free hand to fish out his cell and dial the Anastagios so they could cry and shout and pass the phone around in relief; then he remembered that there was no signal, that it was just them there then, alone together, that he couldn’t reach anyone anywhere—so he told God instead.
Excerpted from HOT HEAD by Damon Suede
published Dreamspinner Press
Picked in Band of Thebes' Best LGBT Books of 2012
On 9/11/2012, Romantic Times chose it as one of their five Favorite Firefighter romances ever.
The Romance Reviews Best Book of 2011 in GLBT – Contemporary Romance ! Deep gratitude to everyone who took this book to heart.
2011 M/M Romance Group Awards: Best Book of the Year, Best Contemporary, Best Debut, Best Cover, Best Sex Scene, Best "Out for You" story, Best "Friends to Lover" story, Best Law Enforcement/PI/Firemen/Military novel.
2011 Rainbow Awards: Honorable mention (perfect rating)
2011 Love Romance Cafe Awards: Best GBLT Book (runner up), Best Contemporary Book (runner up), Best Cover (honorable mention)