SFINCS Review: Hot Button Issue by Catrina Bell

Today’s review is about HOT BUTTON ISSUE by Catrina Bell. It’s a standalone, paranormal romance novella. As the title suggests, it incorporates a hot topic social issue, that of bodily autonomy with respect to reproduction.

SFINCS logoThis review is brought to you by my participation in the Speculative Fiction Indie Novella Championship (SFINCS). SFINCS, pronounced “sphinx”, is a yearly competition to recognize, honor, and celebrate the talent and creativity present in the indie community. It’s a sister competition to both SPFBO and SPSFC, and it highlights greatness in the novella format in all areas of speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, horror, etc.). I am part of Team Behind the Musings. You can find out more about us here.

Author: Catrina Bell
Series: Roller Derby Witches #1
Age Category: Adult
Publisher: Self-Published
Publish Date: March 20, 2023
Print Length: 130
Purchase: Amazon

Official Synopsis

Good Blanca is a high-profile lawyer with a brilliant legal mind. She’s everything her parents hoped she would be – impressive and successful. Bad Blanca is a beautiful mess. She dresses in fishnet tights, flirts with sexy werewolves, and just made the Hel Stars roller derby team. Oh, and she’s secretly a witch.

Thorin is her opposite in every way. The happy-go-lucky flirt struggles with supernatural aggression he can’t quite control. His attraction to Blanca makes things even more complicated.

When Blanca’s powerful client, a state senator, proposes new legislation restricting reproductive rights, the line separating the good and bad in her life becomes blurry. Derby is chaos, and soon everything goes off the rails. She has to decide, once and for all, how far she’ll go to defend her values and the people she loves.

This steamy, cozy, paranormal romance has a strong pro-choice (bodily autonomy) theme.

My Review

HOT BUTTON ISSUE is a light-hearted paranormal romance that takes on the charged issue of bodily autonomy. Blanca is a lawyer by day and a roller derby player by night, keen on ensuring those two personas don’t mix. However, when she discovers one of her clients plans to block access to abortion, she realizes she can no longer remain passive. Along the way Blanca enlists the help of her friends and the cute shifter, Thorin, who works at her favorite bakery.

This standalone novella incorporates quite a few themes for its length: pro-choice, parental pressure for grandchildren, cop violence, loophole politics, second chances for someone with a criminal history, and work-life balance. The two dominant themes, though, are the issue of pro-choice and work-life balance. I feel both issues pretty much speak for themselves. Those who believe in a pregnant person’s reproductive rights will appreciate the pro-choice highlight. The work-life balance topic is something many can also probably relate to.

I think Blanca’s feelings, however, about separating her work from her hobby are something many women might empathize with. That is, I think many women, especially in high-profile jobs, feel that compartmentalizing different aspects of themselves is the best approach if they want others in their professional life to take them seriously. This, I believe, is why Blanca keeps her sassy derby-life persona separate from her lawyer persona.

The writing style is very approachable and it’s easy to fall into step with the main characters. There is a bit of information dumping at the beginning of the story regarding Blanca’s background and parents. But once past that the events are linear. The relationship between Blanca and Thorin transpires relatively quickly, which in my mind becomes more instalove than slow burn. Still, for romance lovers there is consensual spice. However, I felt the timing of the spicy scene seemed at odds with the seriousness of the abortion ban discovery.

There is a magic system, though the plot only spends a small amount of time explaining it. Again, the bulk of the novella is about working together to try to stop a restriction on bodily autonomy. It all happens within the span of a few days. It was rather impressive that this band of civilian heroes could organize with such short notice. All in all, though, HOT BUTTON ISSUE is a nice read for those who appreciate a dose of big social issues mixed in with their light, paranormal romance.

Rating: withheld
Content warnings: sexual content (consensual)
Reading format: Kindle e-book

4 thoughts on “SFINCS Review: Hot Button Issue by Catrina Bell

  1. It sounds like there is a lot going on, but I’m intrigued. I don’t always enjoy stories with heavy controversial themes, but I could see myself reading this.

    1. It’s a heavy topic, but I didn’t find the novella itself all that heavy, so I think you might appreciate it!

  2. I hope this finds you well. My name is Kiara Wells-Hill, and I am a book marketing and publicity intern working with author, Laura Piper Lee.

    I am writing to inquire about the possibility of securing a feature opportunity for Laura. Laura anticipated debut release, titled “Hannah Tate, Beyond Repair” comes out February 2024. We believe that this novel would be an excellent fit for your blog.

    If you have any questions or would like to discuss this request further, please do not hesitate to reach out. Your consideration of this proposal would be greatly appreciated.

    I am also linking the Bookclub interest form below

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Best regards,
    Kiara Wells-Hill

    Book club interest form:


    1. Hi Kiara, with all due respect, the comments section of a blog is not the best way to ask a reviewer to engage with an upcoming book release. I highly recommend you do a thorough search of the blogger’s contact information (which is easily accessible on my blog, for example) and contact them via email (or via private message if email isn’t available). I also recommend making sure the blogger is a good fit for the book you’re promoting. That is, investigate the blogger’s website and see what they mostly review. For example, I am not a good fit for this book because I don’t read much contemporary romance. Lastly, it helps to let the reviewer/blogger know what you’re asking for. For example, from the note you left I don’t know if you’re asking me to highlight an excerpt, post something on publication day, or read and review the book. I hope this advice helps with any future communication you do with fellow reviewers. Take care.

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