Tour’s Books Blog

April 3, 2009

Erotic Romance – April Installment: Some Good Stuff Part 1

OK, it’s that time again, erotic romance roundup!  One of the reasons I tend to lump multiple books together in a monthly installment is many won’t support a full review – too much sex and not much story to talk about.  Which I guess is why some folks read erotic romance.  I read it for the story – and I’m NOT smiling while I type that, I’m laughing my ass off!  Actually, the story really does matter to me because just sex scenes only keep me interested just so long.  Unless I envision the hero as Hugh Jackman, then my interest lasts longer.

This month has been a quirky one for me when it comes to erotic romance – or ‘romantica’ if you prefer the more politically correct term.  I reached partial saturation with werewolves and moved to futuristic, and then back to vamps and weres.  Only contemporaries were few and far between.  There will be a few more books than usual this month, in fact, so many I’m doing this in 2 parts.  It seems the books I did read were dominated by short novels – publishing code for selling half a book  for a full book length price – an unpleasant trend in erotic romance ebooks.  On the upside, I found some real good stories.

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Accidentally Were?  by Anne Douglas

Huntingdawn 1

Pearl Gordon does something completely out of character in her normally refined and restrained (some would say prissy) life – she goes out drinking and has a one night stand.  Next morning, she shows up at her good friend Shaun’s for help.  After all, Shaun is the one who’s into the whole Goth, vamp, were thing, not her.  Pearl’s the staid ‘old maid’ at 31 who had a wild night she can’t seem to remember and a growing pack of dogs trailing after her.  Even worse, she can’t remember if he used condoms and she can’t remember getting 4 prominent hickies that just seem weird.  Kind of like bites from a big dog.  Shaun is convinced she was bitten by a werewolf and insists she go see her next door neighbor, Rex Dixon, who is both a GP and a vet.  If anyone would know the answer to the problem, he would.  Well, except for the pack of dogs.

Pearl is frantic, and a little desperate, so she caves in and go Rex’s clinic for help.

“It’s you! What the hell do you think you’re doing, coming here while you’re in heat?” The sweet and spicy smelling morsel sitting so primly in his waiting room stared back at him blankly.

“Pardon me?” Miss High Society had finally woken up to the fact that he was speaking to her, not just making noise for the hell of it.

“You should know better than to come here smelling like that. You’re going to drive all the animals crazy trying to get to you.” Rex grabbed the woman by the arm and started for the door. “Come on, I have to get you out of here.”

As if her day wasn’t going badly enough, this furious hunk grabs her, tosses her in his truck and drives her to his remote cabin.  Pearl is scared shitless at his strong reaction – and furious at being called ‘little bitch.’

“I let loose for one night, one bloody night in thirty-one years, and wake up alone ’cause my one-night stand obviously couldn’t get away fast enough, leaving me with four hickeys, complete with bite marks.” She ripped down the tall lace collar of her blouse to expose two of the aforementioned love bites. “Then every damned stray in town wants to hump my leg, and now? Now, I’ve been kidnapped by a huge, sexy bear of a man, who calls me a bitch instead of asking my actual name.”

In classic male fashion, Rex’s one thought is “She thinks I’m sexy.”  Such a guy, considering he’s an Alpha werebear.  Now Rex is left trying to explain to a female in heat that’s she joining the ranks of the furry.

This story is funny and jammed packed with things like matings that generate strange blue lights, an ancient prophecy, unexpected pregnancy, fumbling awkward courtships after the fact, and family secrets in an all too short 117 pages.  It was a very solid and entertaining story with characters that have real personalities and depth.  It left me wanting more, which I got in her next installment, Witch, Vamp, Were?

My Grade: A- (4.5*)

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Witch, Vamp, Were?  By Anne Douglas

Huntingdawn 2

Shaun Ingelstead was beyond thrilled when she learned that werewolves, and lots of other were creatures, existed.  Now she wants to prove that there really are vampires.  She’s driving pack Alpha Rob Deidrickson crazy with her ‘investigations’.  He enlists the help of the local vamp, his friend Jakov Pieter, to scare the crap out of Shaun before she learns too much for her own good.  Besides, some of Rob’s thoughts about the petite 20-something pixie-ish Goth-girl were unsuitable for a were-jaguar his age.  This little practical joke he and Jakov cooked up should serve to scare her straight home!

Shaun misses having Pearl with her on her ‘investigations’, but at 7 months pregnant no way was protective husband Rex allowing her to wander around a cemetery in the middle of the night.  Sitting on her ancestor’s headstone at 2AM with no one to talk to, she finally asks her many times great grandmother,

“What do you think of that idea, Gran? There seems to be a lot of magic floating around these days. How about you catch a thread and come talk to me?”

Thing is, she didn’t expect an answer.

“Well, I thought you’d never get around to asking, my dear.” The voice had a body…sort of. All the parts were there, but they were opaque…and they glowed.

Shaun is so shocked that she falls off the headstone!  Jakov jumps from the tree where he’s been hiding to help her only to have the ghost of Gertie Ingelsdottir tell him to “stop skulking around.”  Jakov knew Gertie before he was turned, some 300 years ago.  Now Jakov, an honest to God vampire, Huntingdawn Pack Alpha and werejaguar Rob and her many times great grandmother’s ghost were all there, Shaun was thrilled and maybe a little scared and more than a little flummoxed on what to do next.  Especially with her one foot caught up in the fretwork of the gravestone leaving her in a rather undignified sprawl on the cold ground.

Like Accidentally Were, this story races along and Gertie plays a really big part.  Seems only a portion of the prophecy was known and Gertie knows more, and it involves Shaun, Rod and Jakov.  The matchmaking grannie seems to think that the three of them belong together – like ALL together.  Permanently.  There’s no denying the mutual sexual attraction, but a ménage?  She’s a vampire’s Intended AND she’s an alpha’s Mate?  And she’s Pandora’s Jar?  The one from whom hope for all mankind will spring?  Oh man, what a night.

The story weaves around the three of them trying to figure out the prophecy with some help from Gertie – and Rob and Jak working out how two very possessive males would seduce and share a single mate, without scaring her to death.  Rob longs to loll and rub and sniff all of Shaun’s black satin and lace bedroom.  Jak wants to drink her blood and treasure her.  She wants to lick them all over and bite them till they’re marked – and that scares the crap out of her.  Gertie wants them all to get on with it.

Anne Douglas does a bang up job of creating 4 very real and personable characters while spinning a wonderfully interesting story around the Moonstruck Prophecy that seems to be coming true piece by piece.  And there’s a goodly share of some very hot sex.  The scene where guys watch her with her vibrator is actually hot and funny.  Longer than ‘Accidentally Were?’ by about 40 pages, it needed every one of them.  The ménage portions were well done.

Once again, I was left wanting more!  Since this book was published in Nov of 2008, it’s my sincere hope Douglas will be continuing the series.  SOON!

My Grade: A- (4.5*)

Who would enjoy these books: Those who like Jory Strong’s Supernaturals series, Christine Warren’s Fixed series from Ellora’s Cave, and Bianca D’Arc’s Brotherhood of the Blood.  My rating would be X to XX.

My one complaint about both ebooks has nothing to do with content, it’s PRICE.  The ebooks are at best short novels and each sells for $5.99 at Loose-ID.  $11.98 is way too much money for what amounts to one full length (260+ pages) ebook.  The installments should have been about $3.99 to $4.50 each.  Not $5.99.

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Wanton Wager  by Morgan Ashbury

This is one of the few contemporaries I read this month.  My rather strong preference for books with a mystery or other plot element beyond character growth and change does influence my buying choices.  This one is good enough that it’s interesting.

Tabitha Lambert works for the Bureau of Land Management and transferred out to the Reno office to get away from her jerk of an ex-husband and start over well away from DC and its social climbers.  She out to see Farenough ranch owners, the Keller brothers.  The Kellers participate in the wild horse program, giving the horses and burros a safe haven on their ranch – for free.  After an invigorating drive to the ranch in her Porsche Boxter S, Tabitha gets a real thrill – identical twins James and Jonathan Keller, hormone inspiring eye candy with cut bods, sea blue eyes and smiles that wet panties for miles around.  Phew!

James and Jonathan had been through trying to find wives separately with no success and honestly don’t like living as bachelors.  Every time one met a woman, she tried to get between the two, or couldn’t even tell them apart.  Then had decided that maybe sharing would be best, but how would that work out long term?  Could they do it?  Sharing for a night or a fling isn’t a lifestyle.  Could they share a woman they both loved?  What woman would go for it, especially when they enjoyed bedroom, er, games?  Tabitha really rang their bell – and to their amazement, she has no trouble telling them apart.  One visit to their ranch and they begin plotting how to get her to agree to give them a try.

Next day, she’s meeting with the brothers again at their Aces and Jacks Casino.  James proposes a game of poker.

“If one of us wins, you come home with us today. You become…ours. We’ll pleasure you until you melt; both of us together, and one of us at a time. And we bet you, Tabitha Lambert, that together we’ll be able to meet every one of your needs and fulfill every one of your fantasies. You’ll become…addicted to us. And darlin’, this game would be for keeps.”

And if she wins?  Anything she wants.  Hopefully, them.  And man, is she drooling.  Tabitha is far too good a card player to let on to anything happening in her head, but the temptation to get what she wants gets her to agree.  One professionally dealer, one game, and Tabitha folds.  Before she knows it, she’s driving back to the ranch with Jonathan while James drives her car.

Their relationship takes up most of the tale from here out, but her ex-husband puts in an unexpected appearance, much to her annoyance.  Turns out he found out about her trust fund.  He’d asked for a pre-nup, and her dad, disliking the man, smoothly said fine they would both sign one.  Now he’s in debt and needs her, and her money.  The casino manager, Phyllis, has her sights on James, having dismissed Jonathan as an ordinary rancher, and does NOT like having this BLM woman interfere with her plans to marry him and run the entire Keller business empire.  Then there’s Deputy Sheriff Derek Hamilton who warns her off the twins, suggesting they’re not what they seem, in such a heavy handed fashion he came off looking like Snidely Whiplash.

The characters are not full of angst or hauling around a head full of emotional baggage.  These are adults with their heads firmly attached that just click together in a sexually adventurous and mutually satisfying way with respect and growing love.  The lack of conflict is noticeable and makes the story rather flat.  It’s more noticeable because the ‘villains’ are not very villainous, so they offer no real tension in the plot.  Still, a solid, if undramatic, hot read.

My Grade: C+ (3.25*)

Who would enjoy this book: Fans of the lighter contemporary ménage stories by Jenny Penn.  My rating: XX

Available as an ebook from Siren.

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Glutton for Pleasure by Alisha Rai

This contemporary ménage story is another twins tale, but has more emotional depth than Wanton Wager and was a more satisfying read.  Alisha Rai is a new author and I believe this is her first book.  Rai has a better than good first effort here with well drawn characters and an unusual touch of cultural issues – her female lead is from a very close knit and conservative Indian family.  It is a true romance and totally character driven.

Devi Malik is the chef in her family’s restaurant, The Palace.  Her tall and beautiful sisters manage the front and the office while she runs the kitchen.  And she likes it that way.  She feels like the ugly duckling to their swans, short and plump to their tall, slender frames.  Rana, the eldest, is a bit of a drama queen, but smart and the business person, so her ‘paperwork’ excuse is not completely improbable, just damn convenient when she tells Devi she needs to personally see to ‘table 6’.  She and Leena are the ones who schmooz with the customers.  And table 6 is where Jace Callahan, “tall, dark and delicious,” sits and he wants to meet her.  And he has a guest.  Devi smells a setup by her normally overprotective sisters, but there’s not much she can do about it.  Her sister agreed to his special request, so she’ll make it and serve it and play nice – and remember to speak coherently and not drool on the floor.  That got a lot a tougher when she sees she ‘guest’ is his twin brother.  Coherent speech will be beyond her for sure.  Right up to the point where Marcus and Jace ask her to sit and join them.  Then she gets mad enough to speak her mind and hunt her sister down for a good fight.

But it’s not what Devi thinks.  Yes, Rana knew Jace would hit on her and aided him, but the man had been tracking Devi for weeks and asking for her name and an introduction.  But there is a catch that.  Rana knows the word is Jace and Marcus share their women.  Always.  Jace is a high profile attorney so gossip gets around, even if it is discrete.  They twins are considered the kings of the one night stand.  Rana tells her to go out there and go for it – just do it knowing it’s a one off thing.  The brothers have a different idea.  They want more than one night.  Or at least Jace does.

Devi is torn between family tradition and her growing emotional attachment to the brothers.  Her sisters, at first so supportive, go nuts when she shows signs of making the relationship more lasting.  That fight felt so real it was like eavesdropping.  The Callahan’s have their own problems. Marcus has a lot of issues he has to work through and he and Jace need to make peace with their past in order to have a future, because this time, Jace isn’t going to run after one night.

It’s obvious Ms Rai has spent a fair amount of time in a kitchen just by the way she describes the food prep.  Aside from the heavy handed sexual innuendo in the opening paragraph, the best points, the story has a lush, atmospheric feel to it.  Like the atmosphere, Ms Rai can make the sex feel like sensual eroticism, a subtlety often lost in ménage stories that often focus more blatant or bizarre sex.  And given how much food she uses in her sex scenes, she obviously likes combining the two experiences. 🙂

The relationship among the sisters and the extended family feels just right.  Devi is charming and genuine.  The way she struggles with her feelings for the twins and the social and cultural demands of her family are genuine and not just overblown plot devices.  The Callahan brothers’ characters have their share of inner turmoil and conflict between them, but it’s a little trite and predictable, albeit well done.  You’ve met them before in other books with other names, a common enough occurrence in women’s lit.

For a first effort, this was a very good book.  Even though Glutton for Pleasure is not my usual style, I was impressed enough that I’ll be very likely to read Rai’s stories of Devi’s sisters, Rana and Leena.

My Grade: B  (4*)

Who would enjoy thing book: Fans of Nicole Austin, Trista Ann Michaels and Maya Banks.  My rating would be XXX

Available from Samhain

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