Hunk Of Burnin' Love
by Veronica Wilde, contemporary (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $2.50, ISBN 1-59998-584-5

The hero of Hunk Of Burnin' Love is an Elvis impersonator. Oh God.

Vanessa Reeves woke up naked and alone on a muggy summer morning with her thoughts full of Elvis Presley. It was August sixteenth, the anniversary of Elvis’s death, and that reminded her of her boyfriend, Landon. Or rather, her ex-boyfriend. Landon had ended their three-year relationship at the beginning of summer, saying he wanted to be free. She still couldn’t help thinking about him, though, especially on hot lonely nights when it was just her in bed, naked and burning for his touch. Or on lazy mornings like this when she dreamt of sleepily rolling over to guide him inside her. They had been so good at morning sex. And sex in the shower. Sex outside in the garden—that too. And sex in her backseat that one time —

Vanessa, a 26-year old woman who is a big Elvis fan, decides to celebrate the anniversary of her idol's death by paying a visit to her mother's grave. No, her mother isn't Elvis - the very idea! - she was a big Elvis fan too when she was alive. She encounters a man who seems to be a caretaker of some sort. He reminds her very much of Elvis, but that's because he's merely an impersonator. Right? At any rate, this fellow invites Vanessa to the Celebrity Star Revue.

There, she encounters our hero, TJ Woodard. He is naked when she accidentally stumbles into his dressing room, which makes his last name pretty appropriate, I suppose. It's eight inches of "burning love", by the way. The author is pretty specific that way. Meanwhile, there is a minor mystery of whether the old coot Vanessa encountered in the cemetery is really Elvis. But ultimately, TJ will want Vanessa to make up her mind whether she loves TJ as TJ or TJ as Elvis because if it's the latter she wants, she won't have him as he doesn't intend to be an Elvis impersonator for the rest of his life. He is in a band, you see, and they want to be the new... er, Maroon 5, I suppose.

Hunk Of Burnin' Love, being a short story, is somewhat too heavy on the sex and too light on the rest, but Ms Wilde nonetheless manages to bring up some relevant questions - such as whether Vanessa is really in love with TJ or she's just some obsessed Elvis fan who wants TJ to be her idol - and therefore, the romance is actually feels more real than I would expect it to be. Vanessa is a little on the pathetic side as she can be truly obsessed over Elvis the way only a fan seriously in need of a life can be, but she's not too bad a character. TJ isn't bad as well. For a story of its length, the two characters manage to make some nice music together.

Hunk Of Burnin' Love won't raze the house down, but it's a nonetheless surprisingly complete short story with Ms Wilde going some extra mile to develop the romance into something more than just animal attraction. It won't be the best thing I've read, but I suspect that it's most likely one of the better stories in the A Midsummer Night's Steam series.

Rating: 83

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