Tour’s Books Blog

August 2, 2009

Book Review: Real Men Last All Night anthology by Lora Leigh, Lori Foster, et. al.

  • Title: Real Men Last All Night
  • Author: Lora Leigh, Lori Foster, Cheyenne McCray, Heidi Betts
  • Type: Romance Anthology
  • Genre: Contemporary
  • Sub-genre: Steamy
  • My Grade:  B- (3.7*)
  • Rating: PG-17
  • Where Available:  Any bookstore

This multi-author anthology has two popular steamy authors leading off the line up of novellas.

Cooper’s Fall by Lora Leigh

Cooper’s Fall has a Nauti series feel to it.  Ms Leigh uses her favorite kind of heroine-hero combo, a adult virgin female who is lusting for the bad boy, ex-spec ops male with a wounded soul.  He thinks he’s all wrong, too tough, to sexually demanding and dominant Alpha male for the shy virgin.  She’s an isolated, insecure, sensual, lonely young woman who was badly injured physically and emotionally by her mob father’s enemies, and she desperately wants to have a man in her life.  The one she wants lives next door – Ethan Cooper.

Ethan Cooper was an Army Ranger until a wrecked knee ended his career.  He came home to recuperate and ended up buying the local bar in his home town.  It’s a rough spot. but it’s also the only game in town.  His bouncers and staff are all ex-spec ops as well, so truble is kept to a minimum.  His shy little neighbor, Miss Sarah Fox, stuns him when he sees her in her backyard, naked, exploring her own body.  She may not have gotten herself off, but man, he sure did – and he isn’t at all sure he’ll look at her quite the same way now that he’s seen her body piercings.

Sarah is tired of being alone and friendless in a small town.  Her neighbor treats her like she’s a nun and the men all steer clear of her.  Two years in this little town near Corpus Christi and she hasn’t made a single close friend.  Her uncle died two years ago, and she still worries her father’s enemies will find her and do worse than they did when they kidnapped her and cut her chest with razor blades to force her father into bending to their demands.  Until then, she never knew her beloved Papa was mafia.  He testified against much of the mob and they ended up in prison where he died, but that didn’t make her safe.  Ethan drew her from the first time she met him, but he never once showed the slightest interest in her, calling her Miss Sarah as if she were a maiden aunt.  The longing between them, Sarah’s need for someone to anchor her life all felt quite real.  Ethan isn’t the usual Leigh hero, consumed with himself and his past.  He’s sensual, lusty, and blessedly kink free.

Ethan Cooper might not be the most Alpha hero Ms Leigh ever created, but he was one of the few I truly liked.  Her heroine Sarah was one of the more believable of her ‘wounded doves’, but honestly, do they always have to be virgins?  At 97 pages, this is just a little longer than the other stories and one of the top two in the book.  On its own I’d say Cooper’s Fall was a B+.

Luring Lucy by Lori Foster

Thank-you Miss Foster for a first rate novella that for once features a woman with teenage sons and stretch marks with a guy with a hot bod that’s been waiting forever for his chance and could care les that she hasn’t got a 22 year old’s body – her wants HER.   My top pick of the book – despite the ‘the mighty wang of love’ size deal.  (These guys are never just on the high side of normal, they’re all porn flick endowed.)

Bram Giles is determined to catch up with Lucy before she can indulge in a tryst with some man.  She wants to find a sex life again, she damn well do it with him.  He stood by his friend David when he and Lucy got married and refused to take sides when David screwed it up and got caught cheating on Lucy.  Uncle Bram to their kids, he was there for them when David managed to kill himself in a 1 car drunk driving wreck years ago.  He’s waited long enough.  Lucy was his and he damn well planned on letting her know it.

Her kids off on a camping trip, Lucy finally has the time – and the nerve – to have a no strings attached fling and she has just the young stud in mind, the landscaping guy at the lake house where she caught her late husband with his mistress.  She could have her fling and then sell the house and close that chapter of her life for good.  She’s lonely and tired of being just ‘mom’.  Lucy wants to be woman again, a desirable woman.  When Bram arrives and breaks up the budding seduction of the young hottie doing her landscaping, she initially thinks something happened to her kids.  He was taking them camping, so what’s he doing here?  This is her week for a fling.  Then he scares off the landscaper like a jealous lover.  Damn him!

Bram knows he’s got a lot of problems to overcome to convince Lucy he’s been waiting for his chance.  His playboy reputation, her fear of gossip that will say they’ve been lovers all along, the fact they’ve been friends for nearly 20 years and now he wants to change everything.  Lucy was very hurt by the friends she had with David who blamed her for his drinking and eventual death.  She does not want to go thru another round of gossip.  Besides, Bram runs a gym and all those beautiful women are chasing him, so how can a 39 year old mother of two compete?

Ms Foster does a wonderful job in this gentle story of two old friends becoming so much more.  Lucy and Bram are three dimensional characters that feel very real and engage the reader.  Their dialogue made me feel like an eavesdropper it sounded so true.  The trope might be old, but it’s very well written and Lucy and Bram stuck with me more than any other characters in the anthology.  Being an action fan, I generally don’t enjoy these kinds of stories, but I did this one.  As a stand alone this story is a B+.

The Edge of Sin by Cheyenne McCray

Well, now that we’re done with the good stories, now we have the mediocre.  The Edge of Sin is one of those hopelessly shallow novellas where the characters are two dimensional, sex replaces character development, and the story arc offers no distraction from the mundane.  Writing a sexy action novella is tricky.  If Lori Foster breathed life into and old trope, Ms McCray smothered hers under banal, predictable dialogue, unbelievable characters, and sex.  I couldn’t work up an ounce of excitement or empathy for the hero or heroine.

Zane Steele works for a super secret government agency loosely associated with the NSA know to only a handful of government officials.  He’s waiting for a snitch when he realizes he’s being watched by a woman eating an ice cream cone.  (Can the symbolism get any more obvious?)  Zane is irresistibly drawn to to grad student Willow Randolph’s side.  He’s shocked by the acuity of her observations about what he is and they end up with a dinner date that night and in a matter of minutes they’re having stand-up bathroom sex.

Willow’s cousin was supposedly the victim of a random crime, Willow never believed it.  Now she’s in Boston working the cosmetics counter at Macy’s and keeping her aunt and uncle company to ease them through the grieving.  She a doctoral student at NYU.  She’s not only she smart (all but dissertation), caring (staying with aunt and uncle), observant (pegs Zane for law enforcement and doesn’t buy his ‘Secret Service’ claim), she is also a great athlete – a basketball player with WNBA offers in the past.  In her spare time she probably works at the animal shelter, donates blood, and feeds the homeless.  Jeeze.

Anyhow, after the take down of a Mafia family for selling arms to a wanted terrorist, she’s also become the target of revenge.  How they knew Zane led the take down is attributed to a tortured snitch.   We have the hospital ‘he feels responsible for what happened to her’ scene with a twist.  Unfortunately, Supergirl and the Secret Agent’s Sexy Encounter, is all there is.  This was like reading a dull Cliff’s Notes version of a longer book.  Neither Zane nor Willow had any believability.   As a stand alone it’s a  D+ to C-

Wanted: A Real Man by Heidi Betts

This was the other disappointing story in the anthology on several levels.  The initiating event, the kidnapping of a child by the husband during divorce proceedings, is all but forgotten under the whole childhood sweethearts getting back together with some hot and heavy sex.  How could a distraught mother afraid of losing her only child wallow in sex with the ex while others figure everything out?  The kidnapping of a child was a poor choice for instigating event of the reunion between high school sweethearts Claire and Linc.

Claire Cassidy Scarborough left Linc and the Pittsburgh suburb where they were raised to seek the bright lights, fame and fortune of Hollywood leaving Linc nothing but a note.  She just starts waitressing when she thinks she has some kind of stomach bug – but she was pregnant.  Afraid to go home to face Linc she cries it out on a customer that promises to care for her and har child as his own.  The Scarborough are enormously wealthy and she’s molded into a ‘suitable wife’.  The Barbie doll life finally wears thin and she files for divorce.  Everything is amiable and then her soon to be ex kidnaps her daughter.  Linc’s daughter.

Linc was devastated when Claire ran from him.  He loved her and wanted nothing more than to marry and grow old with her.  Now he’s a US Marshal and she in his office looking for help finding her daughter, who claims is really HIS daughter too.  He’s still angry over what happened 10 years ago.  He is unconvinced that things are what Claire claims, but he calls in some favors and arranges to go to San Francisco with her the next day.  Once there, he checks them into a dumpy motel – one room.  The inevitable happens.  Next day they and two other Marshal’s go to a cabin in the mountains that Claire knew nothing about and get her daughter back.  Linc threatens the soon to be ex who is suitably cowed.  Fly home, HEA.

Unfortunately, this story doesn’t work.  There just isn’t enough time to build the tension between the characters or to properly resolve their problems in any believable fashion.  The epiloge does offer a slower, better resolution, but it’s too late to salvage things.  Linda Howard did a wonderful book, Cry No More, about child kidnapping and its impact on the life of the mother.  The trauma is terrible. I just couldn’t believe any mother would have wild monkey sex with her old boyfriend while terrified for her daughter, or that Linc was able to let go 10 years of anger and betrayal in one night.  That the whole thing takes place in less than 72 hours makes it even harder to believe the characters or their actions.  The story arc of a novella moves much too quickly to manage such an array of complex emotional issues and the tension associated with hunting for an abducted child by law enforcement.  The single most believable part was the dedication by the author.  As a stand alone this is a D+.


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