My name is Joe Jordan, and I have a confession, an obsession, an addiction. I am addicted to stealing hotel pens. In every room I stay, in every hotel bar I drink at, from check-in to check-out. I must have their pens.
I've never read anything by Geoffrey Knight before. Because I have a MAJOR pen fetish, when I went into Dreamspinner and saw the title, Hotel Pens, I knew I had to read it, without even reading the official blurb.
How lucky can one be! This book is beautiful - from the standard of the technical writing, the poetic nature of the writing, the dialogue, the humour, to the wonderful snapshots of NY, the characters, the poignancy, and, when it occured, the sex.
Joe Jordan is a travel writer who is on an assignment to write 'Five Ways to Rediscover New York.' He knows New York well and isn't so sure that there is anything refreshing or 'new' that he can come up with -
Without question, no matter how crowded New York gets, it can be the lonliest place on earth for the brokenhearted.
You know Joe is feeling lonely and you know his assigned piece he has to write is going to be difficult with the above sentiments running through his soul, his mind.
One evening he spies a sexy fellow hotel patron nick a pen and put it in his pocket. Now we know that Joe is a pen connoisseur, so when he sees this happen he just has to hang out a little longer and maybe get to know more about his fellow pen fetishist. Joe asks for a pen, from the conceierge, to write down details he doesn't really need to write down. He nicks a pen as well. An exchanged, knowing look, an arched eyebrow, and a written down room number, by the sexy pen nicker, all follow.
Claude Desjardins is French and translates romance novels. He not only translates these books, it seems, he is one of these books in so many ways. I must declare that Claude is adorable. He starts writing information on Joe's body, followed by "look in the mirror," which the insecure Joe initally mistakes for a rebuff - of his body, of his desirability. Let's put it this way, there is a...tantalising moment between Claude and Joe, in Claude's room, involving a penis, a zipper, some quick heat, the nicked pen, and Joe's anatomy.
Basically, the book is Claude being utterly romantic, writing meeting places on Joe's body, and helping Joe with his assigned New York travel piece. Joe needs a refresher course on New York, a look through unjaded, romantic eyes. Claude is so stereotypically, romantically French. And I think that is utterly charming. But that's not all there is to this book Along with the growing attraction, Joe finds something he long thought lost, or maybe he never had before. He also gets to say 'hello/goodbye' to someone that was important, patch a fence, feel happy for the other person, and feel good about himself. That was nice. Because Joe travels constantly for his job it's near on impossible for someone to compete with different timezones, Joe not being there etc etc. His prior relationship was a casualty of his job.
You don't learn as much about Claude, in the beginning, other than he's cute, sweet, romantic and comfortable in his own skin. That he's waiting on Henri to arrive and Joe is convinced he has a lover coming, or he's going to be in the middle of a relationship, somehow. He hopes not. But who is Henri? You do learn that Claude also deals with pain, that, conicidentally, is so beautifully and sensitively handled by Geoff Knight that I was in total awe. I don't want to say more because I will spoil it.
The two MC's are really easy to like, really easy to read about, really easy to want to see being together. The book ends, I suppose, in a HFN. However, it is not disappointing. Au contraire! It is incredibly uplifting. I loved the last page. However, having said that, I would LOVE to see Joe and Claude again, soon. I'd love to know how they're going, as I care for them, and want happiness for them both. I can imagine though. I guess I'll leave that up to Geoffrey Knight, and perhaps Joe and Claude :)
I just want to end with this. It's not at the end, it's at the beginning, but I thought it lovely to end my review on -
And so the game began, as I started following this beautiful French stranger through New York like a lost child following breadcrumbs through a fairy tale. Rediscovering the city I thought I knew so well. Learning not to doubt myself. Learning to be brave again. Learning that nothing stays broken forever, not even hearts.