Tour’s Books Blog

September 3, 2009

Short Reviews: New Erotic Romance Reads – 3 Novellas

Well another week and another crop of new releases from the various epubs of erotic romance.  Two more longer stories are coming up for review this weekend along with Allyson James’ Dragon Heat.  Let’s get started with 3 novellas.

As any follower of this blog knows, I’m not a fan of m/m, D/s, or BDSM books, but I do read ménage that includes m/m and I’m a complete sucker for shifter stories.  This week was another big one for ménage fans.  While I sit and wait for the next installment of Lara Santiago’s Galactic Gunslingers series and Liza Curtis Black’s Endland Chronicles – two of the more original futuristic series out there – I risk permanent brain damage reading what’s available.  This weeks crop was mostly of the ‘meh’ variety – very formulaic.  In fact, so much formulaic that I’ve begun to wonder if the epubs have drafts that writers work from or guidelines like those used by Harlequin for their Tycoon/Millionaire/Billionaire/Gazillionaire books.   Well these stories are the erotic equivalent of THOSE books – the ones with those awful titles and worse plots involving mistresses, secret babies, amnesia, long lost relatives thought dead, penthouse apartments, private jets, and mansions by the sea, but no reality anywhere in sight.  Except here we have lots of explicit sex.  So, gear up, and let us venture forth into the Jungle of Meh, in the Land of the Lost Plot ruled by the Two Mighty Wangs and The One Wet Woo-Woo.

  • Title: Her Chosen Wolf
  • Author: Renee Michaels
  • Type: Paranormal Romance
  • Genre: Shifter/Werewolf
  • Sub-genre: Ménage
  • My Grade: C+ to B- (3.5*)
  • Rating: X
  • Length:  approx 34,000 words – Novella
  • Where Available: ebook at Samhain

This was one of the better stories out this week, though it isn’t a true ménage, even a real temporary one, though that’s how it’s sold.  There are passing ménage elements, but this is basically a m/f shifter romance and a pretty good one.  The story opens with the polymorph (multiple shifting forms) running from a male wolf determined to mate her against her wishes.  Saffa wants no part of Bardo, the wolf determined to mate her and using several minions to chase her down.  Saffa is a prize, a ploymorph, that rare offspring of werewolves able to take many forms from birds to cats to bears – even multiple creatures like those of myth.  Legend says a polymorph will bring a clan great longevity, prosperity and good luck.  But shifting from form to form takes energy, energy she needs to run.  She finally finds safety in Ambervane territory.

Since the death of Saffa’s parents, Justice Ambervane has looked after young female while fighting his natural inclination to mate with her.  Years ago he learned, by accident, he is nearly sterile, so taking a mate is not an option for him.  It’s also the reason that he’s thwarted his own father’s ambition to become Supreme Alpha over the packs.  But Saffa is determined it’s Just she wants and no one else.  She has serious news for him too.  Bardo’s Clan, set up illegal breeding houses in the city – and they’re breeding feral wolves, a secret army.  Just knows he must finally step in and declare himself a candidate for Supreme Alpha.  Bardo’s father, Maxime, head of the Redmaven Clan, hates him and will do whatever dirty deed he needs to do to take out Justice and make his son Bardo Supreme Alpha.  When Justice and Saffa mate, and Justice takes an unexpected sec, Drew Lunedare the Alpha of the largest pack in the area.  But Drew is not without his own issues.  His mate died and the pain of the loss is almost more than he can manage.  He spends a lot of time drunk or indulging in orgies, but he hasn’t become weak or stupid.  When Justice presents his case, Drew knows he can’t ignore it.

Her Chosen Wolf weaves a decent story around some hot sex scenes.   There is depth to some of the characters, though the villains are kind of Snidely Whiplash-ish, and plot is worth the read.  Serious, but not dark.  I thought the angst bit was over-played, especially Saffa’s part, but given any pack is centered around a breeding pair, it does work within the context of the story. It will be interesting to see where Ms. Michaels takes this in her next installment.  Worth a read.

*************************************************************************************************

  • Title: Pleasuring A Pirate
  • Author: Leila Brown
  • Type: Futuristic Romance
  • Genre: Inter-planetary pirates
  • Sub-genre: Ménage
  • My Grade: D+ to C- (2.5*)
  • Rating: XXX
  • Length:  approx 29,500 words – Novella
  • Where Available: ebook at Loose-Id

Here we go with silliness and Sex in Space.  Minimal plot, lots of sex, and characters with the depth of the saucer, and a story arc that’s as familiar as black and white movies.  Throw these people on a sailing ship in period costume, and you’d have yet another pirate tale.  There are Mighty Wangs so great that registered pleasure givers (sex workers) refuse to service the two captains, but our intrepid heroine is up to the challenge to *gasp* save her baby sister from a fate worse than death.

The story starts out sometime in the future.  Seraphina Jones and her sister Sophie board an interstellar cruise ship bound for the Pleasure Planet, the hedonistic world where you can indulge your sexual fantasies.  Sera can’t even remember entering the sweepstakes.  Women like her, big, black and beautiful, just aren’t chosen for these things.  They select the stick skinny pale haired ones.  Approaching the ship, Sera gets a real bad feeling, but Sophie is so excited she boards despite her misgivings.  Refusing a cryoseat and sleep for the 3 week flight, she, her sister and just two other women are awake when pirates hi-jack the vessel for ransom.  Two massive men with shaved heads (OK, that bit was interesting.  Usually even space pirates have long hair.) warn the 4 woman they are being hauled off to be ransomed as sex slaves, so if they want off the ship, they have just minutes to decide.  Sera knows these guys are telling the truth.  It explains everything that’s bothered her since they went to board.  She drags Sophie off to be presented with two options on the pirate ship – there’s one opening for a pirate and one for a personal pleasure giver to the two captains.  Srea is pissed but determined.  Sophie is to be the pirate and she will become the pleasure giver.  Cue the sex.

Sera stays mad and when they hit the first planet she’s determined to get away from the conniving captains.  She and Sophie go to register when Sophie is kidnapped and Sera must ask the two overbearing captains for help.  Their price, a semi-permanent contract as their exclusive pleasure giver.  Desperate, she signs, but the contract isn’t final till she gives them anal sex. (Eyeroll) Cue more sex with light bondage.  Sophie gets back, tells Sera the truth, the two captains run from the pissed off kidnapper AND the company they took the two women from.

The sex has hot without ever actually engaging the reader on anything other than the shallowest level.  The characters are devoid of depth.  The whole this is about as exciting your average Harlequin with dull sex thrown in, but it isn’t completely unreadable and Sera does have enough definition that you can be somewhat interested.  Harmless, empty and somewhat fun, but unless you’re desperate, don’t waste your money.

*********************************************************************************************************

  • Title: Yellowstone Wild
  • Author:  India Masters
  • Type: Contemporary Romance
  • Genre: High school tormentors to lovers
  • Sub-genre: Ménage
  • My Grade: C (3.2*)
  • Rating: XXX
  • Length:  approx 32,000 words – Novella
  • Where Available: ebook at Loose-Id

Another story from the Jungle of Meh.  In high school Libby Wild was a skinny geek with a camera – her ‘third eye’.  Four years of pure hell, then more years with her father disowning her for not going to a local collage to study something worthwhile so she could come home and help manage the ranch with her sister Alex.  Now, after years of making her bones in photo journalism, Libby has a great job working for an ultra high end travel magazine taking pictures of travel hot spots – no guns, no child soldiers, no war – just über-deluxe hotels and resorts at the jetset playgrounds of the world.  Until now.  The financial pinch is affecting everyone, so the magazine wants her to do the photos in Yellowstone for a ‘vacation adventures at home’ series for those not willing to spend money on international travel.  Her boss knows she’d rather have root canal than go back to where she came from, but it’s go or risk her cushy job at a time when work would be tough to find.

The Cade twins, Bodie and Ty, humiliated Libby in high school, in the kind of cruel way only popular boys can with geeky girls, and now they desperately want to make that up to her – and just sort of desperately want her period.  Their tastes in ménage is pretty widely known, and though Libby is intrigued by the thought of two guys at once, no way will she give them another chance to humiliate her like they did before.  But the twins arrange for her guide, another high school classmate, Jake Striker, to have double booked and they’re the only guides available.  When Jake’s soon to ex-wife Glory, an old friend of Libby’s from the high school newspaper, calls to tell her, she also convinces her to attend the high school reunion to rub her success in the faces of those who tormented her so long ago.  She gets her revenge in spades, but Ty and Bodie manage to corner her when taking her back to the ranch and she agrees to go with them as guides.

There’s also a dying uncle, a secondary love story between Alex and Bodie and Ty’s older brother, Archer Cade, and sex with spanking and light bondage.  What is it with bondage and spanking in all these books?  Isn’t anal enough?  Sex in the woods can be uninhibited and leads to mosquito bites in some very unhappy places.  The whole making peace with past and coming home part was hard to swallow, but Libby had real character and the reunion is one scene I think most high school misfits just wish they could personally enjoy.  The dying uncle bit was way over played, especially in light of her distant relationship with her family.  Same for the sudden reconciliation between Alex and Libby.  Siblings just don’t bury the hatchet that easily or quickly, especially given the emotional baggage that comes with being disowned by her father.  Also, Libby is portrayed as something of an adrenaline junkie and a dedicated travel junkie.  People who love new places and new things rarely experience epiphanies that make them suddenly happy to settle down at remote ranches in Wyoming that are snowed in much of the year.  But this is fiction, so 180° turns aren’t just possible, they’re almost required.  Two days of wild monkey sex in the woods and Libby chucks years of hard work and a personal artistic vision for two guys.   I guess if Lorelei James can have an artist burn his best work, anything is possible in erotic romance.  This is firmly a ‘Meh’ and lacks credibility, but it’s not without its redeeming qualities.

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1 Comment »

  1. I’ve set aside my draft of a short story of a spanking-addicted amnesiac with a lear jet who is trying to find his mansion but can’t because he has long been thought dead. I’m having trouble coming up with a name for this guy…

    Seriously…thanks for mentioning The Endlands series in the same breath with Lara’s Galactic Gunslingers. I’m a real fan of Lara’s (Menagerie…one of the best–I wish I had written THAT one!)

    I hoped to do my lost-in-the-web part to break the mold on tedium in menage erotic romance. Your comments are appreciated and a sure fire way to get me to finish Book Two in the series. Please, keep reading and by all means, keep writing the blog!

    LCB

    Comment by Liza Curtis Black — September 4, 2009 @ 2:06 pm | Reply


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