Tour’s Books Blog

September 13, 2009

Book Review: Three Erotic ebook Paranormal Romances, One Romantic Suspense, Ménage

Well, I FINALLY caught up with reading a paranormal from last month – I’d completely forgot about it – and I bought two full length menage novels from Siren, one short novel from Loose-Id.  I know, shame on me for letting things slip, but I do read stuff besides erotic romance, I just never get a chance to review it!  Having come off a binge of romantic suspense books, I’m having a bit of a time adjusting my expectations downward for the vast majority of erotic romance storylines, so two of these were very pleasant surprises.  There’s a bit of everything here, witches, angels, demons, and contemporary.  OK, so reality isn’t available in 3 of them, but hey, they’re paranormal!

  • Title: Rane’s Guardian
  • Author: Carmen Marie Aimer
  • Type:  Paranormal Romance
  • Genre: Witch – thwarted love and angsty male; suspense
  • Sub-genre: You deserve better than me
  • My Grade: C+ to B- (3.6*)
  • Rating: NC-17 to x
  • Length: Novella – about 39,000 words
  • Where Available: ebook at Cobblestone Press

Rane and Genevieve, Evie to Rane,  Silverwolfe are twin sisters and witches, but couldn’t be less alike.  Rane is an artist and a bit of a rebel.  Evie is quiet and the kind who will give up what she wants to make her family happy.  The Silverwolfes are a respected, old and powerful witch family living in London and a year ago, much to their dismay, Rane got involved with with a Guardian, Luken.  Guardians are extremely powerful witches that protect other witches from various evils.  They are male, over-sexed, and beyond intimidating.  Rane ran from Luken and her family shielded her when he came looking for her to get her back.  Now, as Evie and Rane leave the movie theater, she thinks maybe they did the wrong thing by meddling in Rane’s life.  Rane has been lifeless and depressed since she left Luken.

That night Rane is awakened by a scream – her own.  She reaches out mentally for Evie and nothing is there.  After failing to reach her sister by phone, she calls her brother and he felt it too.  Together they go to Evie’s place and find her body, but not her.  There’s no medical explanation for Evie’s condition, but the Silverwolfes  know what happened and who they need to go to for help.  Luken, a Guardian.

Guardians are like Superwitches – warriors, with huge sexual appetites.  They have the responsibility of keeping other supernaturals in line and making sure any witch stupid enough to  try and play with the dark side, pays with their life.  When Rane’s family shielded her from and refused to let her go back, despite his demands, he went a little nuts and the other Guardians had to step in and get him under control.  When Rane and her brother show up asking for his help, he demands Rane stay with him till he’s ready to let her go.   To her brother’s chagrin, she agrees.  Then Luken starts struggling with guilt about his blackmail, but Rane wants him so much she refuses to leave.  Together they scry for Evie and find out if her spirit isn’t returned soon, she never can be.

Despite Rane’s occasional too-stupid-to-live moments and Luken’s I-must-let-you-go-for-your-own-good routine, this is actually a pretty good story.  I could have done with less of the self-sacrificing nonsense which just got in the way by the second time around and annoyed me by the third.  Neither Luken nor Rane are fully realized as characters, but for a novella there was a good plot with fewer than usual holes in it, the villain was trite, but the pace never flagged.  Plenty of sex and just atmosphere to keep from being bland.  A decent short read.

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  • Title: Perfection: Eternally Three
  • Author: Kris Cook
  • Type: Urban Fantasy Romance
  • Genre: Demons and Angels
  • Sub-genre: Sex-for power; ménage
  • My Grade: B- (3.7*)
  • Rating: xxx
  • Length: Novel 70,700 words
  • Where Available: ebooks available at Siren

This rather dark urban fantasy books has an interesting premise combined with some well worn plot elements in a good, atmospheric, if somewhat predictable, novel.  Eric Langley has gone missing.  He left his sister a cryptic message to take a book and his flash drive to a person named David at a semi-notorious club, Zone Three.  Uncomfortable and totally out of her element, Micki Langley is more than a little shocked to actually gain entrance to the club, but the open sexual activity is even more  disturbing.  But getting in wasn’t the hardest part, trying to get anyone to talk to her is.  All she gets is complete silence and speculative looks, but no one will speak to her or tell her where the mysterious David is.

Jared is a disgraced Jinn who half fell to the Dark.  He left the battles between good and evil but has resisted the Dark all through his years of isolation.  He’s barely tolerated in Zone Jared has no desire to be around angels and jinn again – or their human power sources.  He’s here because David asked him to protect Micki Langley.  Also there is Bradley, an angel who hates Jared for being a traitor to the Alliance, has also been tasked with her protection by David.

Angels and jinn get their power, and their immortality by ‘tripling’ with humans.  This power is held within them and then expended when used in battles against the forces of the dark, ifrits, demons, and the like.  The power is also what keeps them alive, so the jinn and the angels crave tripling.  In order to ‘triple’, the triad is formed of one jinn, one angel and one human and the power transfer from human to immortal happens during sex.  That’s what Level Three is all about – immortals finding a suitable human for a threesome.  But Micki is different, very different.  The immortals see the red light forming around her and the calls to them.  It’s so strong that Jared fears it will summon the dark soon.  Micki needs to be drained to keep her safe.  Jared has a terrible fear of ever tripling again.  He killed a woman, draining her of all f her life force and nearly became an ifrit.  Her death caused him to be kicked out of the Alliance.  Bradley hates the jinn for what he did, but the power signal that Micki is exuding is so great they must drain her.  In the private room upstairs, these two men – the men Micki has seen in her erotic dreams – bring her fantasies to life.  But just before she climaxes, Micki sees white wings on Bradley and green smoke around Jared – and Jared sees a door to the Ether, a place where the worst demons are exiled, starting to open.  The climax is so huge she collapses.  Fearing the door and the demon lord who calls to his dark side,  and thinking he’s killed another human, Jared runs.  Bradley stays.

Come morning, Micki learns some things that  infuriate her and storms from the club.  Finally Eric’s girlfriend is back in town and together they return to Level Three the next night just to find this David character.  They get attacked on the way to the club and Micki learns that David has been meddling, but it takes some time before she learns just how much.  He also has a much to strong interest in Brooke, Eric’s girlfriend, which Micki is not comfortable with.  Micki is furious with David, but agrees to hand over the flash drive.  When she and Bradley are attacked in the bank accessing the safe deposit box (and having sex on the bank floor!), it’s Jared who comes to their aid, not David’s watchers.

Further in the story, after another tripling, Jared and Bradley leave her alone to go talk with David.  Then Micki does one of those too-stupid-to-live things that drive me nuts.  Why must writers constantly rely on the heroine committing an act of supreme stupidity instead of something more creative to put her in danger?  At any rate, she ends up imprisoned by the dark forces trying to release a great evil trapped in the Ether.  Her brother has been tortured near to death.  The big denouement involves more sex and the power of a true Triad – a permanent threesome.  And a lot more comes out about David’s involvement in the death 200 years earlier that Jared has carried the blame for.

The plot is complex, the characters well drawn and evolving during the story, the sex was hot, thought a bit D/s and kinky at times, and the ending leaves the story far from finished, so further installments are expected.  This will sound like a petty quibble, but I just HATED the angel’s name, Bradley.  Not Brad, Bradley.  All I could think of was an uptight, balding, old money, middle aged banker.  It is profoundly not a name to conjure with for a warrior.   I probably would have liked the book a lot better had he had a different name, because my mental image stumbled each time I read it.  The flaws cannot take away from what is a really good story that would have been better had there not been that trite TSTL act by Micki, the sex in the bank (eye roll), and the angel’s name.  The unusual ending compensated for them. My guess is there’s a traitor on the high counsel of the Alliance, but that will be in the future.  A very good, if somewhat grim read and a worthwhile buy if you like darker paranormals.

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  • Title: The Collision – Guardian’s Realm series
  • Author: Crystal Kauffman
  • Type: Urban Fantasy Romance
  • Genre: Vampires, Fae – good guys, bad girl
  • Sub-genre: Sex/vampire drug addiction, ménage
  • My Grade: DNF
  • Rating: xxx
  • Length: Short Novel – about 58,000 words
  • Where available: ebook at Loose-Id

There was a huge issue for me with this story – I didn’t even remotely like the heroine.  Gladiolus (yes, I even hate the name) is a human female sex slave in a vampire house of pleasure.  She entered into the contract voluntarily and stayed for many years because she was addicted to a special drug that vampires create with their plasma – and fangy kind of ecstasy.  Even worse, she’s one of those intensely annoying, saccharine, fragile flowers who just seems to love being used and abused.  Gag!  Our heroes are a young, self righteous prig – Balin, a fae and a Guardian, and Fitch, a world weary, been-there-done-that  vamp in the Vampire Secret Service.

It’s not often I say this, but I gave the book to page 50 and I just didn’t care about any of them .  Honestly, she was just so cloying and Balin was so immature I couldn’t take any more.  A treacly sweet, drug addicted, sex addicted female has ZERO appeal as a heroine.  And Balin was a snotty, patronizing, condescending prick. The only character I remotely like was Fitch and that’s it.  I hope the hellhounds ate the other two.

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  • Title: Beautiful Triad – Sexual Studies 3
  • Author: Kate Waterman
  • Type: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
  • Genre: Isolated cottage in the woods; suspense
  • Sub-genre:  Friends-to-lovers; unexpected ménage
  • My Grade: D+ to C- (2.6*)
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Length: Short Novel – about 56,000 words
  • Where Available: ebooks available at Siren

This unexpected short novel/long novella is not the usual brainless three-way sexfest that the vast majority of  ménage books are.   “Fuck” is not the main word for sex.  The guys are handsome, but they don’t have erections the size of Volkswagens – and they don’t have sex 6 times a day and 10 minute recovery times.  Basically, they’re just young, good looking men that have been friends for 20 years and one falls in in lust/love with the others girlfriend, but he’s much too honorable to ever act on it.  How refreshing is it that these guys aren’t scarred by some awful childhood trauma so they can only enjoy sex together?  These guys are just, well, guys.

Lauren Hanes is a 24 year old actuarial science graduate that’s in a long term relationship with Drew Fletcher, a pilot for a corporate jet who spends as much time overseas as he does at home.  Drew’s best friend for 20 years is Rob Hanson who has been dating an aggressive female attorney.  Unfortunately, Lauren is getting increasingly uncomfortable around Rob and vice versa.   Drew might be the poster boy for the easy going, footloose bachelor, but he’s very intuitive and long ago learned long ago to listen to those instincts.  Right now they’re telling him that the strain between the woman he’s come to love and his best friend is a strong, mutual attraction.  Drew is very straightforward even with himself and when he looks inside, he realizes he doesn’t feel any jealousy about it.  He knows how honorable both of them are, so regardless of what happened neither would ever act on their attraction.  Drew would.  It’s Drew who brings up the idea of sharing and Rob and Lauren who are both hesitant and intrigued.  They’re both solid, conservative, family types that worry what others will think – especially family.  Drew’s biggest challenge is getting them past inhibitions and into openly acknowledging what they already know – both men are deeply attracted to Lauren and she is equally drawn to both men.  Slowly, they begin building a ménage.

The entire first half of the story is about the budding relationship between Drew, Lauren and Rob, with just the barest hint something else is happening.  Then the police are there and so is the creepy neighbor, Dr Ben Heaton.  Dr Heaton’s wife has gone missing.  He more or less wrangles an invitation for dinner and tries to convince Lauren to speak ith him about research for his newest book.  He’s convinced she’s involved with both Rob and Drew and he’s he’s dubbed them ‘Beautiful Triad’ for their good looks.

The nature of the story shifts abruptly from a fairly modest romance to romantic suspense.  This shift is disconcerting because the very minor hints at things just don’t let the get the slow build up needed to make the transition.   Rob’s ex-girlfriend – who showed up at the house unexpectedly and uncomfortably after canceling on Rob – has gone missing on her way back to the office.  The guilt the three have overshadows the fragile start to their relationship.  Suddenly there’s an FBI agent on the scene with questions about Heaton.  The ending is abrupt and odd, then suddenly you have an epilogue.

The story just doesn’t gel.  The characters are quite believable, the romance more sweet than hot, but the suspense part of the story just felt awkward.  It was rather like watching a jerky film.  The disconnect between the the two parts of the book and then the strange ending that failed to wrap things up, except in the most perfunctory manner, was disappointing and unsatisfying.  Yes, I can see the contrast between the warm, gentle relationship between the 3 people, the unease with the neighbor, but out of nowhere – BANG! – you wrap the whole thing up in a chapter that had more action than the whole rest of the book.  Ms Waterman needed to build up to the denouement and then weave the pieces together more cohesively.  It was the literary equivalent of taking an increasingly strange thrill ride and then just dropped off a cliff and told – “That’s it.  Good-bye.”  I was left wondering what the hell just happened to the story.  There should be a ‘Reader whiplash’ alert on this book.

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