Tour’s Books Blog

July 6, 2009

July Erotic Romance Roundup

I bought more novellas, short novels and novels than I was able to read, so I might do a supplement later this month, but here’s a good cross-section of what I did get to that was not a full length novel. All were ebooks.

  • Title: Deadly Crimson
  • Author: Trista Ann Michaels
  • Type: Erotic Romance – short novel
  • Genre: Erotic Urban Fantasy
  • Sub-genre: Romantic suspense
  • My Grade: C+ to B- (3.5*)
  • Rating: X to XX
  • Warnings: Ménage
  • Available at: Samhain

In Deadly Crimson, Trista Ann Michaels offers up an interesting urban fantasy that could have been better with a bit more meat to the story, though she does pack a lot into a short novel, including a lot of sex.

Stacy Bevins is a homicide detective that lost a friend to a new designer drug. Her relationship with the victim got her kicked of the case, but she working it on her own to find the drug distributor. She starts at hotspot nightclub, The Coven, and meets the two very sexy owners – Vincent Van Horne and Jason Hawkins, a pair of drop dead gorgeous guys. Their sex appeal is beyond alluring and she ends up in a three-way right in their office. She also sees firsthand what this drug can do to a person when a young woman takes it. She even manages to snag the vial with a tiny bit left. Her friend Amy does an analysis that says blood, but more of a sample to get any more work. When Jason just gives her a vial and tells her to keep an open mind, even she can’t believe the results.

The relationship between Stacy, Vincent and Jason gets more complicated when she learns what they’re wizards – but doesn’t really believe them. Then avenging vamps get involved.

I liked Stacy, she was no push-over just because the guys had her hormones in an uproar. I liked Vincent and Jason too because they respected Stacy’s strength and recognized her determination to solve the mystery. They obviously wanted to keep her safe, but realized she would do what she felt was right. The spontaneous sex-on-first-meet is something that erotic romance authors do a lot, even if it isn’t all that credible, but Stacy is more of a ‘love ‘em and leave ‘em’ girl, so here it seemed more in character here – for once.

The ending had a lot of potential for thrills, but fell flat in that area. This is where the book lost its solid B grade.   There was little excitement or suspense in the stand-off and suddenly the story was over. It also left some issues involving the future of the three sort of open. This is obviously a start of a series involving a possible war within the witch/wizard/shifter/vamp community.

Deadly Crimson is not Harry Dresden with sex, though that might be where Ms Michaels was aiming. Its biggest problem is the short novel length. There is no time to do the necessary ‘world building’ needed to pull off a complicated urban fantasy and sex is not an adequate substitute, though for the majority of erotic romance readers it might be. That’s what makes Dresden so good, the world is carefully and completely crafted. Still, for a short novel, Deadly Crimson was a good read and if there is a second book I’ll likely buy it.

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  • Title: First Sharing
  • Author: Jory Strong
  • Type: Erotic romance – long short story
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Sub-genre: Alternate world
  • My Grade: C- (2.8*)
  • Rating: XX
  • Warnings: Ménage
  • Available at: Ellora’s Cave

This prequel to the popular Fallon Mates series by Jory Strong tells about the first time a Vesti and Amato shared a human female with Fallon genes. These are characters frequently referred to in subsequent books, but their story had not been told.

On Belazir, Laith d’Amato is searching for his best friend, Rykken d’Vesti to ask him to join him in mating with the human female, Cyan. Laith had a dream he believes to be a vision on how the two races must go about mating with Earth humans to get a next generation for their people – they must share the female. The Hoatling virus has left the females of both their races sterile. Desperate to survive but attempting to establish limits, the governing council has set up a genetic matching system and rules by which human mates can be claimed. This is new to the Vesti and Amato. Both are descended from the Fallon, but evolved differently.

Oddly, despite the two races not much liking each other, Laith and Ryyken have been friends since childhood. Laith’s mate was located and once he saw her he knew she was his – and Ryyken’s. Convincing Ryyken would not be easy. Like many Vesti and Amato males denied the opportunity to mate, Ryyken has taken up Bounty Hunting, a kind of multi-world law enforcement. Laith’s Ylan stones are to the point of wanting to migrate to his mate and he feared taking Cyan without Ryyken, so it’s urgent they return to Earth immediately – though what they’re doing so is against Council law governing the mating with human females.

Cyan is debating taking up the offer to become a pupil of Pieter van Rijn, despite it being made by a man she knows desires her despite her repeated rejections. It would be a huge coupe to become van Rijn’s student. (OK – you do know van Rijn is Rembrandt’s last name, right?)

She shocked to see Laith arrive at the cabin with another man, but she was even more shocked to find she reacts to him with the same sexual hunger as Laith. The eroticism of the moment sweeps away her fears and she takes them both as lovers. From here on out its pretty much a sex-fest scripted from most of her other Fallon books. Not a lot of room in a 50 page story for plot or character development. Cyan must choose between Ryyken and Laith or studying with van Rijn.

I’m not a fan of short stories and never have been. It’s one of the very toughest formats to write well. You can’t tell a complicated story, there’s no time and that’s the problem here. Too much time was to be spent setting the stage and putting Laith’s and Ryyken’s actions in context to have enough time to develop their relationship with Cyan. If you’ve read even one book in the whole series this groundwork is unnecessary and steals precious space from the real story, but does help anyone starting here. It is, after all, the First Sharing. Overall, I found this a fairly uninspired read, but OK for an erotic short story.

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  • Title: Miss Firecracker
  • Author: Lorelei James
  • Type: Erotic Romance – novella
  • Genre: Contemporary
  • Sub-genre: none
  • My Grade: B- (3.8*)
  • Rating: NC-17
  • Warnings: none
  • Available at: Samhain

I’m not a big fan of Lorelei James, though she has a very strong and loyal following. She writes well, just not my kind of books. Miss Firecracker is an exception. Recommended over on the Amazon Erotic Romance forum, I bought the ebook and it was well worth it. It was a refreshing change from what has become a series of cardboard characters that seem to be various flavors of Alpha males and submissive females. Lord that stuff takes a toll. I’m always grateful for a fresh take on a contemporary erotic romance and even more grateful for a decent story.

Willow Gregory has finished her year as Broward, Nebraska’s Miss Firecracker – a beauty queen’s job she never applied for and hadn’t wanted, but got stuck with so she wouldn’t disappoint her mother. Will is a carpenter and a damn good one. She’s been working hard with for father’s construction company and had to really earn the respect and confidence of his men. Being a beauty queen is not remotely her thing.  She isn’t exactly the high heel type – she’s the tool belt type. Her feminine wiles were nonexistent. But apparently her libido celebrated her freedom for the celibacy forced by the old-fashioned rules for Miss Firecracker. She got shit-faced drunk, damaged the bar when she went after a customer and then she apparently tried to seduce the bartender – the hunk currently standing in the door laughing as he tells all this – by doing a striptease. Her clothes are currently hanging from the ceiling fan. She’s not in jail because the sheriff decided she should work off her debt to the bar – not just get off by paying for it. And in 2 hours she starts her first twelve hour shift at the bar.

Blake West is doing a buddy a favor by watching his bar while he takes a vacation. Until recently, Blake lived and worked with his dad on the family sheep ranch in Montana, but a heart attack caused his dad to sell the place and Blake ended up finding himself modestly rich, but with nothing to do. He’s good natured, not at all bitter or complaining, but he is a kind of a loss of what to do with the rest of his life. He’s always lived in the shadow of his handsome, wealthy McKay cousins. Now all the women who ignored him are interested – mostly in his money. Tending bar seemed like a good way spend time thinking things over. (I have no idea how Blake, a sheep rancher, came to develop bartending skills, but apparently he knows not only how to mix drinks, but how to manage the office paperwork.) He’s a damn good carpenter, thanks to helping another cousin with his construction company. (And he found time to learn to tend bar and be a master carpenter in all those spare hours that ranching allow?)

When Dave took off, one of the waitresses called in sick and they’re shorthanded. Having that hot little package working there might be more distraction than he can handle. But Will comes back and starts working away. Turns out she’s a quick learner and a hard worker, but at the end of the night she had half the tips if the others. Will may be real good at construction, but she has no skills at all at flirting with customers – or Blake. Still, she and Blake get to know each other – but he holds back on the sheep rancher part and the money. He’s “between jobs.” Will is drooling over Blake and has no idea how to seduce him – he’s a LOT more interested than she realizes.

Blake’s partial truths about himself and Will’s insecurities about herself with men combined with her short temper are about the only conflict – aside from her father, who does not like his little girl messed with. The drinking bout and arm wrestling were worth a laugh. Basically this is an amusing, contemporary romance with likable characters that are better drawn that usual. The plot is thin and the conflict minimal, but with two such likable protagonists, it remains an enjoyable and fairly hot.

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  • Title: Storm Howl
  • Author: Vonna Harper
  • Type: Erotic Romance – novella/long short story
  • Genre: Paranormal
  • Sub-genre: Mystic wolves
  • My Grade: D (2*)
  • Rating: NC-17
  • Warnings: none
  • Available at: Loose-Id

It was a dark and stormy night ………. Really, it was! Snow, wind, bad mountain roads – the whole thing. Sarah Hazelton jumped at a job offer that has her on a mountain road in the middle of a blizzard, scared and struggling to stay on what she hopes is the road. Jake Schneider is trying his damndest to get down off the mountain while he still can. He sees wolves – only there haven’t been wolves around this area for decades. An oncoming car spins out of control and hits his truck. Out of her car trying to shake off the accident, Sarah sees small lights – no not lights, eyes. Wolves.

A snowplow driver gets them down to a diner where Jake gets his first good look at Sarah in the diner. He’s aware of the wolves outside the diner at a safe distance and he wonders at the way Sarah is staring if she sees them too. He also wonders about having doggie style sex with her – a complete stranger. Jeeze, he needs to get a grip. Thing is, Sarah is having the exact same thoughts. Even separate rooms at the sorry excuse of an inn can’t stop what seems inevitable – almost as if they were being driven by other forces. Both wonder about the wolves, but are reluctant to speak of it, yet they must.

Finally they talk about the wolves – and a logging accident that hurt Jake’s brother, Brett while thinning trees near a remote campground in the national forest. He tells her how he cursed the forest. Then the wolves come back, as if summoning them to the window to watch the alpha wolf mate the female, as if whispering into their minds to watch and learn.

Ok – I have to say all the ‘mystic wolf’ nonsense was dumb. Storm Howl had decent characters that made mountains out of molehills in their lives and honestly, mystic wolves?  Who can begin to buy it? Sarah thinks wilderness is speaking to them thru mystic wolves and she changes her life? Jake makes peace with his brother’s injury and his own reaction – which was way over the top? Sigh. Not my thing and not an ounce of credibility for how the characters acted at the end. What a letdown – curse the forest/nature and the mystic wolves will come and lead you to the right path in your life – oh, and love too while they’re doing the live demonstration sex education class. Sigh.  On the list of dumb motivations, this one ranks in the top ten.

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