‘Hot to Trot’ by Lou Wakefield is my belated Valentine’s Day tie-in review. I chose to read this as it is a romantic comedy. I have to say that the opening of the story captures the reader’s imagination and pulls you in with wit being the main essence between the main character, Kate Thornton, and an elderly woman, Minnie McAlpine.
Kate Thornton is a thirty-something British actress who has had some bad luck with her career of late. She has used up her spare time playing Backgammon on the Internet and in doing so, she has built up a relationship with one of the regular players, ‘Andy the Cowboy’. Whilst ‘Andy’ is kind with his gameplay and sympathetic to her career situation, Kate learns that he has had a fall and broken his arm, thus making it difficult for him to make ends meet on his ranch, Blue Yonder, in Canada. Without giving him the heads-up, Kate decides to fly out to Canada to hopefully be of some assistance to ‘Andy’.
It is on this flight that Kate is seated next to Minnie McAlpine. Minnie hears of the situation that Kate has put herself in and although Minnie is very friendly and likeable, she also has a quirky side to her. Minnie is full of ironic and sarcastic remarks which couldn’t help but put a smile on my face.
The synopsis for this novel is very interesting. It is the idea of dropping everything you know to go and help out a person that you thought you knew, with the added possibility of some romance. However, when Kate reaches Blue Yonder she finds out that Andy doesn’t have a broken arm and isn’t aware of her at all. The real Andy, for me, was not a typical hero. He was quite rude, set in his ways and limited to his lifestyle. He didn’t welcome new ideas and was very miserable. His behaviour towards Kate was mostly ignorant and a little hostile in places. Kate isn’t sure whether to stay or go and therefore, on a romance level for me there was nothing. I didn’t feel much in the way of a connection towards the characters.
Kate is obviously a friendly woman who likes to assist wherever she can. As the novel moves on Kate’s character becomes more irritating. Although she wants to help Andy she stretches herself by going through his office drawers, asking locals on his situation, etc. I didn’t like these situations and, as a reader, made me feel uncomfortable. Kate’s character begins really nice but she becomes interfering and nosey.
I found the middle of the story quite lengthy and long-winded and as the story moves on it loses the sense of humour we began with. Kate has the mystery to solve of who it was that she was playing on the Internet with, calling themselves ‘Andy the Cowboy’. This takes up a great deal of the novel but it moves forward quite slowly, with Kate acting as a local gossip with neighbours of Andy’s, who she doesn’t even know herself. This was a little cringeworthy. However, throughout the novel there are little twists to keep the reader guessing on who the culprit is behind ‘Andy the Cowboy’.
The ending of ‘Hot to Trot’ did disappoint me. After having such a lengthy middle to the story the end seems like only a few pages. Throughout the novel the romance was missing and I was hoping that it would more than make up for this at the end. But I’m afraid I didn’t feel it. This seems such a shame as the book began on a high note and was quite enjoyable. Minnie McAlpine is my favourite character and, even though she has a role throughout the book, it would have been nice to have mentioned her more. If there were more intense and intimate moments with Kate and Andy, with the humour lasting throughout, then this novel would be much more notable.
Reviewed by Caroline Barker