Week ending September 7, 2012
Aicher, Lynda. Stone of Ascension. Samhain. (Energen, Bk. 2). Sept. 2012. 327p. eISBN 9781609288761. EPUB $5.50. POSTAPOCALYPTIC ROMANCE
This blend of elements of various mythos, cultures, and fantasy archetypes is at the root a romance between a strong, albeit emotionally wounded, and devastatingly handsome man and a beautiful, insecure, sexually innocent woman. Explicit sex eventually ensues between Damian Aeros and Amber Morningstar, in the midst of adventures in our own and another world. In our world, Amber is a shy orphan, and Damian a powerful CEO. But they both have forceful destinies in the Energen world. Louk and Ariana from the first book in the series make a brief appearance, but this text stands on its own.
Verdict The erotic scenes are fairly well written, though phrases like “delectable bottom” seem out of place. To this reviewer, the Wiccan components of earth, air, fire, water (and spirit) powers in the Energen world and the fantasy creatures such as dragons and phoenixes work better than the Native American (Amber is a Wampanoag Indian) and Chinese mythic elements. Still, fans of fantasy and paranormal romance should enjoy this book.—Sara Tompson, Univ. of Southern California Libs., Los Angeles
Couper, Lexxie. Sunset Heat. Samhain. (Bandicoot Cove: The Wedding, Bk. 2). Sept. 2012. 134p. eISBN 9781619211070. EPUB $3.50. EROTIC ROMANCE
Dee, Jess. Afternoon Rhapsody. Samhain. (Bandicoot Cove: The Wedding, Bk. 1). Sept. 2012. 119p. eISBN 9781619211063. EPUB $3.50. EROTIC ROMANCE
Lee, Sami. Moonlight Mirage. Samhain. (Bandicoot Cove: The Wedding, Bk. 3). Sept. 2012. 136p. eISBN 9781619211087. EPUB $3.50. EROTIC ROMANCE
In Dee’s titillating Afternoon Rhapsody, the first of an erotic novella trilogy, Bianca “Bee” Rogers finds herself at the tropical Australian resort of Bandicoot Cove for the wedding of her brother Aidan to McKenzie. This holiday affords her some time to think about what she really wants, as she has yet to sign the divorce papers that will finalize her marriage to Rick, the man who did so much for her that she lost herself somewhere along the way. The last thing she expects is to run into Brody Evans, a man going through his own divorce who puts her dormant sex drive into high gear. Are Bee and Brody willing to leave behind their past relationship woes and allow themselves a second chance at love?
Verdict This sultry resort on Bilby Island sets the perfect stage for red-hot sex and romance to converge. Readers will also be pleasantly surprised by Dee’s (Colors of Love) unexpected turn of events that will have them wanting these two characters to work it out.
This second offering, Couper’s Sunset Heat, introduces three guests present for Aidan and Mack’s wedding but also a love triangle complicated by an erotic ménage à trois. Kennedy, Bandicoot Cove’s new wedding photographer, is startled to find as Aidan’s best man Luke, an Australian firefighter whom she ducked out on after a one-night stand months earlier. Luke brings along to Bilby Island his sexy and competitive British cousin, Addison, a man who goes after (and always gets) what he wants. When Kennedy suggests a threesome, the men are more than happy to oblige. However, they soon learn that a sexy tryst can satisfy fantasies and deliver amazing pleasures but can’t provide lasting love. Kennedy will, ultimately, need to follow her heart and choose between the rake and the hero.
Verdict Couper (Love’s Rhythm) kicks up the erotic elements without letting the story grow stale. She keeps the characters grounded as each learns that the needs of the heart outweigh those of the body. Through these characters, readers get to experience the best of both worlds: a racy fantasy and romantic sensibility.
This steamy trilogy closes with Lee’s Moonlight Mirage, a novel of romantic tension between Hayley Bryant, a young girl Mack took under her wing, and Mitch Wood, Mack’s staunch older brother. Hayley had worked for Mitch two years ago when she was just a naïve girl. Her heart was crushed when she discovered that love would always take a backseat with Mitch, whose only real passion is business. After exploring the world and releasing her wild side, Hayley has arrived for the wedding with her sexy friend with benefits, Ty Butler, as her date. Mitch is full of regrets and wants a second chance, but Hayley won’t risk her heart again. Instead, she offers him an erotic proposition that will force Mitch to give up control if he is ever going to get what he and Hayley both want.
Verdict Lee (Erica’s Choice) has carved out her own niche in the series by taking a conventional love story and giving it an erotic twist. This reviewer was sad to see this story and series end but enjoyed this easy, fun, and romantic diversion while it lasted.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L., IL
Kinsey, Kate. Red. eKensington. Sept. 2012. 277p. eISBN 9781601830579. EPUB $4.99. EROTICA, ROMANCTIC SUSPENSE
Mutilated bodies turn up over the course of several weeks, and all of the victims were members of a local sex club that embraced BDSM. Det. Tom Hanson is assigned the case by his chief of police, whose close friend was the first victim. Hanson quickly learns that the grieving family members either won’t open up to someone not a member of their lifestyle, or don’t know about their loved ones’ other lives. Instead, Hanson turns to the one person he never expected to see again, his former lover and former detective Gina Larsen. Gina left the police department after her extracurricular activities as a pro-domme came to light in a politically charged sting. As the two work together, Hanson realizes his feelings for Gina are still there, but he doesn’t know if he can give Gina what she needs in a relationship. Hanson draws closer to solving the case and discovers that the killer won’t give up until he claims the last victim—Gina.
Verdict Debut novelist Kinsey explores the BDSM lifestyle she lives and introduces mainstream readers who have welcomed Fifty Shades of Grey to a larger segment of the BDSM community. While Red starts off by skipping among the viewpoints of various characters in a somewhat confusing manner, the plot quickly settles into a psychological exploration of aspects of BDSM, bound by a rather grisly thriller. Parts of the story—dubious consent, explicit language—may limit readership and scare off some vanilla readers.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA
Sandas, Amy. Rogue Countess. Samhain. 2012. 261p. ISBN 9781619210806. EPUB $5.50. REGENCY ROMANCE
Despite being abandoned by her husband, Jude Sinclair, Earl of Blackbourne, on her wedding day, Anna Locke has blossomed from a skinny, frightened child into a confident woman who commands attention whenever she enters a room. She has shed her husband’s family name and carved out an identity for herself through her skills in the horse trade. When the prodigal earl returns home to fulfill his duties and resume his rightful place in society, Anna wants nothing to do with his ploys. For his part, Jude cannot reconcile the lush, sensual, independent woman who has risen above society’s dictates with the child with the dark knowing eyes he believes trapped him into an unwanted marriage. Initially, he wants nothing more than to end their sham of a marriage, but as he and Anna match wills and he learns more about her character, Jude finds that he has great difficulty resisting his wife, nor does he particularly want to.
Verdict Sandas’s debut novel presents some unique historical romance aspects—society woman engaging in trade—rarely seen in others of its kind. But the plot is otherwise unoriginal. The love scenes are few and far between, and although there is potential for steaminess and opportunities to elevate the story line, the novel is firmly situated in the tame category. Fans of the genre may appreciate the characterization of the female lead as an honorable, independent heroine who rarely backs down from a challenge, especially given the time period, but those who prefer their romance with a bit more spice should look elsewhere.—Natasha Grant, New York