Tour’s Books Blog

August 6, 2009

Short Reviews – Erotic Romance Novellas July 09 One

Well, in lieu of a round-up, I’ll be doing a couple of installments of a variety of genres, good, bad and indifferent.

  • Title: Legend’s Passion
  • Author: Jaci Burton
  • Type: Romance
  • Genre: Paranormal
  • Sub-genre: Werewolf – mistaken identity
  • My Grade: B (3.9*)
  • Rating: NC-17 to X
  • Where Available: Ellora’s Cave

Legend’s Passion is the latest installment of Ms Burton’s Devlin Dynasty series about the Devlin werewolf family.  Dylan Maxwell is in meeting a female snitch in Golden Gate Park at night hoping she can lead him to the serial killer that’s been tearing women apart.  Chantal Devlin is a werewolf with a hot mystery date in Golden Gate Park for some down and dirty sex so she can safely blow off some steam.   She’s a career lawyer, loves her job and works really long days, so she isn’t about to mate, she’s enjoying life far too much to tie herself down that way.  Dylan sees a beautiful woman approach him, his snitch?  Then she offers him sex and he’s so hot he doesn’t even care abut the risks.  Right up until she bites him.  As Dylan sinks to the ground, Chantal tries to figure out what just happened – other than mind blowing sex – and then she sees Dylan, who is out cold on the ground, isn’t healing immediately.  She didn’t just screw a human, she bit one.

A phone call to her brother Noah brings him to SF on the family jet and together they get Dylan back to Chantal’s pack house.  Noah tells Chantal that Dylan isn’t just any human, he’s an undercover agent for the government looking for the rogue werewolf that’s been killing women.  Turns out, Noah knows Dylan and his nickname, Legend.  The changing of a human to were causes the human to crave sex, so he’s Chantal’s responsibility and the local pack Alpha is not at all happy with her.

I like Jaci Burton’s Devlin series and Legend’s Passion is no exception.  Every installment I’ve read has been worthwhile.  The banter between Noah and Chantal is classic brother/sister.  Dylan is strong enough to stand up against Chantal’s tough girl and tough enough to deal with his changing with a minimum of disbelief or anger.  This is a very hot novella, but manages to keep a decent story going about the hunt for the rogue were between very steamy bouts sex.  Well written, with some humor and a good story, but it would have been better as a short novel with more of the rogue in it.  Also, you’re left wondering a bit about just how ‘accidental’ the meeting between Dylan and Chantal really was.  Or at least I was left wondering if perhaps Maia, the female were who helped set up the ‘date’, had another plan in mind all together.

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  • Title: Hallie’s Cats
  • Author: Fran Lee
  • Type: Erotic Romance
  • Genre: Shifter
  • Sub-genre: Cat, Menagé
  • My Grade: C+ (3.5*)
  • Rating: xxx with a waring about cat/human sex that could offend some
  • Where Available: Ellora’s Cave

This is the first story by Fran Lee that I’ve read.  She wrote one previous novel for Ellora’s Cave and based on the strength of Hallie’s Cats, I might well buy it even though it isn’t a shifter tale.  Like many shifter books, there’s a problem with shifters hunting humans, but here the heroes are clan outcasts and they protect the humans from a rouge pack.  Unlike Ms Burton’s Legend’s Passion, this is a darker, moodier story with a more complex back story and a rather complicated relationship between male and female.

Gar and his brother Cal live in Rutledge protecting the local human population from Lykos, a band of cat shifters that hunt humans as prey.  Gar is very aware of the human female that’s has rented a mansion that has been for sale a long time.  Gar has insured no one will buy it by scaring off all potentials, but Hallie is a desperate woman and the place is cheap, so she’s taken it anyway.  Gar has lived here for a long time and could mask his appearance and scent from humans, appearing older than he is.  His brother Cal is younger and just barely fully mature.  They protect Hallie,then one night their dog gets loose, running at Hallie and she falls as he passes her by.  Gar helps her into his place and she gets drunk on his pheromones.  Thing is, Gar wanted her just as much and he knows Cal has been eying her since she moved in.  Now she’s in his house and he’s fighting the urge to take her.

The golden eyed man across the room is wearing a cologne that’s driving Hallie insane.  She wants to jump his bones and it scares her.  She runs for the door and Gar’s on her in a heartbeat, automatically chasing the female in flight.  Unable to resist, he pins her to the wall.  Hallie is mad and aroused and she bites him – hard.  The have stand-up wild monkey sex and each draws the others blood beginning the Claiming.  Hallie starts having visions as she and Gar mate.  In her mind he calls her Hallara and it feels so right. And then it’s Hallie pinning Gar to the bed, taking from him, demanding, as if another spirit controls her.

Gar explains how his kind function in groups, with a consort for the female and she also has a male harem.  Her taking his blood created a bond and now the two are linked and she isn’t as turned off by all this as she thinks she should be.

This is an interesting ‘world’ that Ms Lee creates with her cats.  The story line is a little weak and the whole flashback thing was very distracting at times.  The rather complex relationship between male and female is very different from the usual shifter story.  Sensual and very erotic, Hallie’s Cats was mostly a solid novella with an interesting twist and decent characters, though the plot gets choppy after the mid-point.  The Lion King type ending was a lame spot.

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  • Title: Sweet Spot
  • Author: Jenna Reynolds
  • Type: Romance
  • Genre: Contemporary
  • Sub-genre: Erotic – Opposites Attract
  • My Grade: D+ (2.3*)
  • Rating: NC-17 to X
  • Where Available: Ellora’s Cave

It’s been quite awhile since I bought so many new releases at Ellora’s Cave in one month.  July was I snagged quite a few.  This was something of a waste of time.  It sounded cute, but when the dust settled I didn’t much like either the hero or the heroine and the story, such as it was, was just annoying and predictable.

Alice Parker is the free spirit owner of The Sweet Spot, a candy shop that offers a wide range of candies and does special order erotic candy for bachelorette parties and such.  Laurel is the daughter of her closest friend and a young bride to be.  Just as Laurel opens the box of penis pops and chocolate cocks, the doorbell rings.  Thinking it’s the male stripper, Alice answers, wondering why he’s dressed like a Fortune 500 exec instead of the usual policeman or fireman.  Perhaps that’s because he’s Laurel’s Uncle Edward – and he’s come to stop his niece from getting married.  Alice’s friend Millie looks none to pleased to see him, suspecting his real intent.

Edward Larkin is an orthodontist and he’s not about to allow his much too young niece to marry some struggling comic book writer, even if she and everyone else calls him a graphic novelist.  His sister Millie never showed any sense!  Look at her best friend, Alice and that chocolate.  He and Millie argue.  Millie refers to him as ‘Saint Edward’ and describes him as “stuck-up, self-righteous, holier-than-thou asshole.”  That summed it up nicely.

For reasons that are likely due to his good looks, Alice is attracted.  So attracted she ends up in bed with him.  He’s good at that!  Then he has Dad, a judge, call a family dinner and between Grandfather and Uncle Edward that manage to get Laurel to call of the wedding.  There’s a sudden epiphany by Edward that just rings false.  Actually, none of the characters feel real.  Their all over-the-top in one direction or the other.  Edward’s description was dead on and I didn’t like him and could not remotely believe his change of heart.  Alice behaves like someone who has yet to emotionally mature.  Laurel behaves like a child, not someone ready for marriage and Millie hasn’t the guts to shut her controlling father and brother down.  The whole restaurant scene was just gratuitous.   Shallow annoying people behaving in a shallow annoying manner in public.  Lucky fellow diners.  Unfortunate readers.  Why does Millie need Alice to stand up for her and her daughter?  Isn’t she a bit overdue for growing a spine?  And who does Alice think she is interfering in the lives of others?   If you’re planning to get married, shouldn’t you be able to tell your overbearing grandfather to go to hell?  Honestly, between bullies, and a free-spirit, sanity left the house.  It doesn’t help that story lacks credibility and the writing is ‘meh’.  Give it a miss.

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  • Title: Dakota’s Cowboys
  • Author: Leah Brooke
  • Type: Romance
  • Genre: Contemporary Western
  • Sub-genre: Erotic – Menagé
  • My Grade: B- (3.6*)
  • Rating: xxx
  • Where Available: Siren

I’m not a big fan of Leah Brooke, but she does write well, I enjoyed her Alpha Mates,  and she did a very good job with Blade’s Desire.  Her stories are often edged with some kind of serious sexual history for at least one of the protagonists, usually some form of abuse or emotional trauma.  In Dakota’s Cowboys, it’s what happened to the men when they entered prison as teen adults.  Dakota Wells is alone on a ranch she inherited when two strangers drive up.  She trusts no one.  Her neighbor, “Big Ed’ Franks wants her land and he’s done all he can to get it.  Keep people in the town from selling to her, burn building, tear down fences, steal her stock.  No way is she taking chances with strangers.  Joe Taylor and Colt Mason spent years in jail for a murder they didn’t commit.  They’re out and they want the man responsible for putting them there.  They managed to track him through name changes and different states, and now he’s called Ed Franks and they want him.  But in order to get close, they need to be at Dakota’s ranch.

Dakota Wells hasn’t slept a night through in a long time.  Winter is here and she’s still relying on her friend Jill to bring her food and other essentials, but with winter coming, that will be a problem.  Then there’s deputy sheriff Ben Parsons who seems to do what he can, but Big Ed bought off his boss a long time ago and there’s no getting him to act on any of the ‘accidents’ at the ranch.  Her one shot at finding a man was Lenny, and he left her flat when Big Ed offered him enough money.  No loss, he was nothing but a lazy bum to begin with, but it was just one more loss in a long series of losses.  She isn’t sure why, but she decides to trust the two strangers, and she’s deeply attracted to them both.

Here we have a classic set up with physical isolation – remote ranch, even a blizzard, a serious threat from a bad guy, a deputy sheriff that might not be what he seems and the hidden agenda of revenge for Joe and Colt.  The sex is hot and a little edgy, the heroes suitably burdened with dark secrets, and left with a difficult choice of keeping something that’s more important than they thought possible, or taking the revenge that helped keep endure the years in prison.

Leah Brooke has a knack for sketching in a script in a minmum amount of space which helps here since the story is just a long novella.  There’s enough meat to hold it together.  Typically, these menagé novellas/short novels from Siren are more about sex than story, but Ms Brooke usually manages to weave a readable tale.  Her characters take on personality and interaction has a level of believability you don’t usually get with novella length stories.  Though not as well developed as her Desire series books , of its type, Dakota’s Cowboys is above average in quality.

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