Author: Gwenda Bond
A paranormal romantic comedy at the (possible) end of the world.
All Callie wanted was a quiet weekend with her best friend. She promised her mom she could handle running her family’s escape room business while her mom is out of town. Instead a Satanic cult shows up, claiming that the prop spell book in one of the rooms is the real deal, and they need it to summon the right hand of the devil. Naturally they take Callie and her friend, Mag, along with them. But when the summoning reveals a handsome demon in a leather jacket named Luke who offers to help Callie stop the cult from destroying the world, her night goes from weird to completely strange.
As the group tries to stay one step ahead of the cult, Callie finds herself drawn to the annoying (and annoyingly handsome) Luke. But what Callie doesn’t know is that Luke is none other than Luke Morningstar, Prince of Hell and son of the Devil himself. Callie never had time for love, and with the apocalypse coming closer, is there room for romance when all hell’s about to break loose?
Not Your Average Hot Guy is the first novel in a promising new series of the same name. It is a fun and witty adventure taking the sides of good and evil and having them team up together to try to prevent the apocalypse. The story is centered around Callisto (“Callie”), who is a recent college graduate (~22 years old). She is at a cross-roads in her life as she tries to think of the next steps and is surrounded by those that have more direction. Her older brother Jared seems to have his life together and is currently in his second year of law school. Her best friend, Mag, is also on her own path as she landed a job as a graphic designer for a local ad agency immediately after graduating. While Callie tries to find the next step, whether it is graduate school or a career, she bides her time working at her family’s business, The Great Escape, in Lexington, Kentucky that has also been voted the best escape room business in the country. When her mother leaves her in charge of the business to go accept the Owner of the Year award at the Association of Escape Room and Countdown Games conference, Callie does not expect the crazy adventure that she will soon embark.
In the Kingdom of Hell lives the Prince of Hell, 23-years-old, Luke Astaroth Morningstar, the son of Lucifer Morningstar and Lilith. He is at his own crossroads as he has yet to receive his wings, even though most in Hell get them as children. As he tutors under Lucifer’s second in command, Lucifuge Rofocale, Luke is running out of time and must begin harvesting souls. When the Order of Elerion, a four hundred year old cult ran by Solomon Elerion steals a grimoire from The Great Escape and summons a demon, Luke and Callie’s worlds will collide as the Order is after the Holy Lance. This initial meeting of the three groups (the side of Good with Callie, the side of Evil with Luke, and the Order) sets off a whirlwind adventure. As Callie and Luke begin to spend more time together, they begin to explore some possible feelings. Their potential romance made a very unique enemies to lovers as it is literally the Prince of Hell and a human who have a connection.
The pacing of the story is fast as there is a lot of action as Luke and Callie are on a quest to stop the Order. Luke is on a deadline to harvest souls, which is not something he wants to do whereas Callie is set to have an adventure before she needs to figure out her next steps. It was interesting to have each of the main characters at a crossroads in their own lives and I love that this story was duel-perspective, so the reader can get inside each of their heads. Callie and Luke made a very fun pair and I greatly enjoyed their banter. The one main thing that I wished was included is motivation for Callie. While she was skeptical of the situation, she seemed to go along with everything very fast and without second-guessing herself. It seemed odd for someone whose life seemed more or less mundane with school and working at her family’s escape room. I absolutely loved their adventure together, but it just seemed odd that a normal human would take the situation more-or-less in stride. It could be other readers could interpret this part of her character different, but this is how I read it and the question that I could not answer even after finishing the story.
Overall, I can see this series continuing to provide excellent entertaining adventures with a mixture of the two characters continue to grow. There is a lot of focus on the adventure in this story, so it would be nice to continue with them to get to know each of them even more. I also would love further exploration into their potential romance as it felt a little instalove without the slower buildup of their connection like I prefer. It was still an adorable romance though and I think that the series has a lot of potential to expand on this element. I loved that Mag was written as a non-binary character. It was great that they were integrated seamlessly into the story without a lot of explanation or tangents. It was written naturally, which I appreciated as a reader. Generally, this story is fun and it was an excellent read to put the reader in a good mood with its quirkiness. I cannot wait to read the next novel to see what will happen next with both the characters and the story!
**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, HarperCollins UK, One More Chapter, for the opportunity to read this enjoyable novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**