Feature book: Hot Down Under, part I
Hot Down Under, part I
The following five stories are the first part of the Hot Down Under anthology from Momentum books. Review copies were provided by the publisher.
Set in the same post-apocalyptic world as Flesh (which is on my TBR pile) this little short story takes the reader on a whistle-stop tour of the relationship of Natalie and Angus. Natalie was on holiday over Christmas with her boyfriend (who sounds like a piece of work, so not sad he was eaten by a zombie) when the apocalypse struck and most of the population were turned into zombies. At 21 pages, there is no time for significant world building so I don’t know the origins of the virus (I suspect that is detailed in Flesh).
Natalie has been stuck in her high-rise resort apartment, barricaded against the zombie horde and living on protein bars and bottled water. Enter Angus, a younger, sexy man who gives her much needed supplies and a walkie-talkie. They have many a deep and meaningful conversation over the walkie-talkie and then Angus disappears for a few days. By the time he returns with a sawn-off shotgun ready to fight his way through the zombies to rescue her, she’s all but given up and fears him dead. Clearly, they had developed a major attraction in their previous interaction and some smoking sex ensues before they take off to the south-west where there is apparently a compound of uninfected people.
If that sounds like a lot in 21 pages, it’s because it is. It is really a series of vignettes with snapshots of action and dialogue. I got the impression the author knew a lot more about their story than was on the page. I would have loved for a few more pages to be added, especially some of those walkie-talkie conversations instead of having to infer what was said. Still, it is a fascinating world and I’m curious about the virus and how it works. I wonder if we might see more of Natalie and Angus in future books in the series.
This story was the longest of the five stories and was quite fun actually. An ex-boxer from an eastern European country buys a pub in Mount Tully. The barmaid and he have been trying to ignore their attraction and on Australia Day, over a bet about a cane toad, it all comes to a head. (Why anyone would want a cane toad as a pet is a bit beyond me though!) Luka sounded very Australian to me, despite his eastern European background but otherwise, I enjoyed this story quite a bit. It was sexy and fun and had one of the best one-liners I’ve seen in a while:
‘And I suppose your body’s a temple?’
‘Interested in the hours of worship?’
Told from the first-person POV of online chat room user Condamine, this erotic short tracks her first real life meeting with Esquire, the man she’s been sharing sexy secrets with over the internet for a year. I bought into the fantasy of these two anonymous people meeting in real life, so much so that it was actually a bit of a disappointment when they introduced themselves and started using their real names. The style of the writing really suited the anonymity and fantasy aspect. It’s certainly sexy. I enjoyed it.
Ishari is a djinn whose master is Caleb Salt, a member of the band RoC Salted (excellent band name!) She is deeply attracted to Caleb, but he has one last wish left and then she will have to leave him. His character is revealed by the fact that he used his first two wishes on his brother Ryan. Ishari is hoping that Caleb will use the final wish for himself. The story is less than 20 pages long but I found myself caring about the characters—which in such a short space is really rare for me. Definitely erotic, but Caleb is definitely a keeper.
This one is about a battered wife escaping from her husband to a former love. I had a bit of a problem with the idea that someone who’d just suffered a beating would be interested in sex with anyone. I liked the concept but I think the format was too short for the story.
reviewed by Kaetrin