jmc_bks: (title)
My belated SBD:

First let me go on record as being a reader who isn’t offended by reading a love scene (or sex scene, as the case may be) between one of the main characters of a romance and another character who is not going to be the ultimate hero or heroine. If it fits with the plot of the book and the flow of the story, then I’m okay with it. That’s assuming, of course, that there is no pledge of sexual fidelity between h/h; if there is and the nookie occurs anyway, that’s cheating and it’s an entirely different kettle o’ fish.

I purchased Laura Baumbach’s The Lost Temple of Karttikeya [The Collector 9] ; I’d read her earlier m/m book A Bit of Rough and was interested to see what she would do with a romance that included a bit of adventure or paranormal. I knew from the blurb that the heroes of the book would be Brandon and Christian. And I knew from the excerpt that Brandon is seeing someone else or hung up on someone else at the beginning of the book. Fine. The opening chapters (chapters!) consisted of a long, long love/sex scene between Brandon and the other guy. In and of itself, that doesn’t bother me; Brandon’s lovesickness* over this guy plays a role in the book. The details? Graphic and quite titillating. Again, not a problem. Of ~400 e-pages, the first ~60** are the sex between a hero and a non-hero, who in fact turns out to be a slutty user who abandons Brandon, leaving him heartbroken and desperate enough to go on a Quest for a Magickal Artifact which will win him back. Of course, in the process, Brandon has the Hot Monkey Lovin' with someone else and falls in love all over again, but this time with a Very Nice Guy.

But I digress. The initial scene. After finishing the book, I felt a little perplexed by the length of the first love/sex scene. Okay, I’m all for the hotness and I get that this is erotic romance. But since as a reader I’ve done my research (read the blurb before buying), I know who is going to get the HEA. And I’m not sure how using +10% of the book’s entire word count on a love/sex scene not between the two heroes furthers that goal. I mean, yes, it shows me that the Evil, Slutty Ex is Teh Secks God (which also means that he’s gotten around, which is bad in Romancelandia – is that the same for m/m Romancelandia?) and that he has Our Sweet Hero by the cock and balls. But still…was there any other point to it? Because upon reflection, it reminds of Skanky Villain Sex, thrown in to pad a book and make the reader aware that the villain is a bad, bad dude. Here it just contributed to my general disenchantment with Brandon as a hero. If he’s so needy and desperate that total tool with a good technique can whip him that easily, how/why should I believe that his HEA with Christian is EA? What if the tool reappears or changes his mind?

Plus, that scene is longer (I believe) than any love/sex scene between Brandon and Christian. What’s up with that?  Are you telling me that ESE's technique is better/hotter/more page-worthy than Christian's?  If so, the author is breaking a major Romancelandia rule:  True Love Sex is the Best Sex. 

I dunno.  I kind of had a point and then lost it.  But suffice it to say that something about this first scene seems wonky to me in the scheme of things, even if I can't articulate exactly what.

*After a bit, I was totally irritated with Brandon’s obsession with this guy and his complete lack of self-respect and testicular fortitude.   But that’s a separate issue.

** The details of the book indicated that it is 55,887 words long; probably a good 6,000-7,000 of those words were spent on this scene.  About half way through the scene, I wanted to tell them both to come already so the actual plot could start.
jmc_bks: (seagull)
Now that I've read Dirty, I get the clear divide among readers. I fall in with the readers who had a ~meh~ reaction. It's one of those books that was well-written but just didn't work for me. It all comes down to narration: Dirty is told in first person POV from the perspective of Elle Kavanaugh. She's very remote and detached, and it was hard to like her or even to care. The story was told in a monotone. Because the narrator was so detached, everything seemed grey. Even the sex seemed clinical and boring to me. Published by Hqn's Spice line, I think it was supposed to be straight erotica, not erotic romance, because the publisher said the HEA was not required for the line. (There's a nominal HEA here.) As a piece of erotica or erotic fiction, it didn't work for me -- it wasn't hot, it was like reading a sexual instruction manual. Insert Tab A into Slot B. If I didn't know the publisher, I'd've thought this was straight up women's fiction. C+ from me.

BTW, Jessica Bird (aka J.R. Ward) has a new series book out. I bought a copy (it seems to be a compulsion) and read it. Bird/Ward really seems incapable of writing a well-rounded heroine. By well-rounded, I mean a character who has flaws and strengths and who is not a complete doormat. Meet Lizzie Bond, yet another meek little woman to get walked all over by an uber-alpha Ward/Bird hero. What the hell is wrong with me? I know that I don't like Bird's series books (now that I've read three of them), but I bought this one anyway. My reader card should be revoked.
jmc_bks: (Book on table)
I've read a bunch of books in the past week or so, some good, some not so much.  The slump, I think she is over!

jmc_bks: (seagull)
Here it is. It isn't a review, really, because I couldn't get myself organized enough for that. More a plot summary (small spoilers, I think) and my rambling thoughts.

And I'm off and rambling (instead of running) )

I forgot!

Apr. 10th, 2007 08:28 pm
jmc_bks: (Baseball)
I forgot to share my joy yesterday -- opening day in Balmer! Cold, but clear. And a win, with a beautiful game pitched by Daniel Cabrera. Plus, the O's won the series in NY. :happysigh: That so seldom happens that I can't be too mournful that they blew a lead and what could've been a sweep.

And I learned that the new head groundskeeper at the Yard? A woman. The only one in the league, I think. Is that cool or what? That'd be a cool profession for a romance heroine, don'tcha think?

On the book front, still mired in bleh-dom. I picked up a copy of the e-book Anchor & Storm after reading KarenS's mention of it. Read more... )
jmc_bks: (title)
I received a bunch of recommendations when I blogged last week (or the week before?) about The Power of Three. Saskia Walker's name was one of them, so I picked up a copy of her book, Double Dare. I have to admit that I had passed the book up a couple of times before because of the cover.
Check it out. )
jmc_bks: (h's iris)
Tara Marie's post reminded me that I told Sybil that I would blog about The Power of Three. What is The Power of Three? It's the recent frequency of threesomes in erotic romance. What's behind it? Is there a point to it? What do I think about it? The question came because of a superfluous group sex scene in Michelle Pillow's short story in the anthology Taming Him.

My short answer to Sybil's original email: I haven't spent a huge amount of time pondering the rise of the threesomes or foursomes or group sex in erotic romance. It doesn't offend me, but neither does it particularly float my boat. I think the 3+ scenes that I've read have been in erotic romance from ebook and boutique publishers rather than NYC/mainstream publishers for the most part.

My only slightly longer opinion: Like "regular" sex, 3+ sex needs to fit the story. Flipping through the erotic romances I've read, it's hard to think of many in which the 3+ sex played a role in developing the the story, instead being titillating filler. Even in Pillow's story, it was tacked on, just sort of there. Offhand, the only book that I can think of in which is is more than just padding to the story is Emma Holly's Menage. ETA: [ profile] sarahf reminded me that Chris Owen's 911 includes a threesome as an integral part of the story. Not tacked on, not hurried, but a piece of the story that is addressed and developed.

What do you think of The Power of Three? If you read erotic romance, what do you think of them? Read or skip?
jmc_bks: (title)
This was an impulse purchase from the library's sale shelf. I had to admit that I wouldn't have purchased it otherwise and likely would never have thought to check it out from the library. Why? Because I read Day's debut, Bad Boys Ahoy and was not particularly impressed -- it wasn't awful but neither did it stand out to me. But TSIM looked so lonely there on the sale shelf that I had to take it home.

Was it worth the whopping $1 I paid? )
jmc_bks: (flaming june)
I've mentioned that I don't drink coffee, haven't I? I made an impulse purchase the other day -- a Mr. Coffee CocoMotion. What might this be? Exactly what it sounds like. Dump in the milk, add the syrup or powder, snap on the lid. Stirs and heats up evenly. Is an automatic cocoa maker really necessary? Well, I like it since it does away with all lumps that normally occur when I make cocoa. Mmmm.

On the book front, I've just finished Sylvia Day's The Stranger She Married, which I enjoyed a great deal. Hot, hot, hot. Review is percolating.

I just noticed that Romancing the Blog links to me. I don't generally hang out there, although I'll check it out if there's an interesting conversation going on. Why don't I spend much time there? Well, to be honest, it strikes me as more author oriented than reader oriented, and I'm just not concerned about the same craft issues that writers are. But right now I'm wondering how long I've been linked. I'm not offended or anything, just curious. If I had a site meter, I'd be interested in seeing what traffic, if any, came via RtB.
jmc_bks: (title)
Okay, let's try this again.

A while back, Sybil posted the cover to Morgan Hawke's upcoming Aphrodisia release, Kiss of the Wolf.  The backblurb was okay, but what caught my attention was the cover art -- it was seriously hawt.  On my last trip to the bookstore, I noticed a TPB release of an earlier Hawke book from Loose Id:  Victorious Star.  

The plot and the world building were pretty interesting.  Starships as sentient beings?  I'm there (the latent Trekkie in me coming out -- I loved Cpt. Picard.).  Navigator-pilots modified to hook right into the ship's computer system?  Fascinating and Matrix-like.  A navigator pilot with a reputation for sacrificing captains in order to save ships?  Excellent.  Space pirates?  Yum.

But for all of that potential, VS just didn't work for me for a couple of reasons.  First, the heroine ends up as a slave, property owned by the two heroes.  As she puts it, their fuck-toy.  She goes from being a respected officer in the Imperium to having no rights whatsoever.  Literally, she is listed as property on the ship's manifest.  I understand that whatever submission goes on in a D/S relationship involve a negotiated power exchange between the participants.  But to have that "relationship" extend into the real world (even in fiction) to the extent that her citizenship was revoked and she was a thing?  Uh, no, not romantic, not sexy, not erotic.  Second, the book crossed my squick barriers.  Hell, the book breezed right past them and never looked back.

But you know, despite the squicks, I'm still going to check out Kiss of the Wolf.
jmc_bks: (title)
I was getting to the end of the month, worried about finishing AngieW's reading challenge: a book published originally as an e-book. My reading slump has been prolonged. But I scanned through my e-bookshelf and found The Chronicles of Stella Rice by Adrienne Kama.
Review behind the cut. )
jmc_bks: (Imperfect 2 by LJ Ase)
Cover photo behind the cut. )

What’s in a woman’s heart . . .
Brilliant executive Kiera Stevens finds herself in a vulnerable position when she suspects insider espionage. Someone she trusts is stealing company secrets and threatening her professional stature. What she needs is an undercover man . . .

What’s on a man’s mind . . .
Security expect John Atlantis never expected his client to be such a hot distraction. That’s what makes his covert plan to pose as her lover so irresistible. What unfolds between them is no ruse – and what sparks is beyond their control.

Now, with their defenses down, a devious high-tech spy is moving closer and watching Kiera’s every move. What he sees, he likes. And what he likes, he takes . . .

Tell me, after reading this blurb and seeing this cover (which I like except for the woman’s stiff-looking hair), into which romance sub-genre would you expect this book to fall? If you are like me, you would never have guessed that it is a fantasy/alternate reality erotic romance. I got the erotic romance part, but thought it was a straight contemporary with some suspense. Imagine my surprise when the hero and heroine start talking about magic and spells. I'm not in the mood for magic (I wanted to read a straight contemporary) so this one goes into the TBR.

Fanny Hill

Aug. 3rd, 2006 02:28 pm
jmc_bks: (meninas)
Check out Jonathan Yardley's review of Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure in the Post today. He calls it "a splendid bedtime story for grown-ups."


May. 17th, 2006 09:16 pm
jmc_bks: (title)
Well, not really, since my stupidity hasn't endangered my life; I would never go investigate the thumping noise in the basement like the moron chick in horror movies. But I haven't learned my lesson. Maybe like Pavlov's dogs, I need an electric shock to prevent myself from buying some books.

I picked up a copy of Megan's Mate by Lora Leigh. [ETA: Megan's Mark is the title. Sorry about that.] I don't know why. I haven't had the best of luck with her short stories: for the most part, they squick me out. I don't remember which shorts I've read, the polyamory ones or the animal-human breed ones, but my ick line in the sand was crossed. Polyamory is okay, but three brothers with one woman? Beyond ick. Animal-human paranormals? Okay, until penises (penii?) grow barbs like cats. Uh, no thanks. So why did I do it? Why did I even pick this book up? What was I thinking? Maybe that the single title release would be better than the ebooks or short stories? I can only surmise that I had a brain fart or a complete and utter collapse of my common sense.

The prose was so purple in places that the ink should've shown as maroon. Overblown, overwrought, over-everything. While the use of "cock," "pussy," etc., doesn't offend me, the frequency of their use was excessive and awkward. The plot was simple enough, but it involved politics that required more background information and world building, as well as a motive that is sprung at the end with little warning or preparation within the story.

Grade: D. May the gods of reading strike me down if I ever read another LL book or story again...or inflict aversion therapy through electro-shock treatment on me, at least.
jmc_bks: (title)
I think I blogged earlier about Wolf Tales, which was my worst read of the year so far back in January. I've read (and actually finished) a book that is worse. Or maybe it just seems worse because I had read another Romantica book by this author and thought it was fairly good, only to have this one be the closest thing to porn that I have ever read. Its ostensible HEA is the only thing that is holding on to the romantica label for this book, IMO. Seriously, A Bite of Magick: Magick Men II by Rhyannon Byrd sucked monkey balls. What did I not like about it, let me count the ways:

1. Not a stand alone book. Yes, it is part of a series, okay, but it made NO sense since I hadn't read the first one. Worse than Kenyon's Dark Hunter series, in terms of needing to read other books in order to understand.
2. The world building was half-assed. Where'd the bad guy come from? Dunno, because it was never explained why he was so evil, other than the fact that he'd seduced the heroine first. Bad, bad, bad to have sex with the heroine before the hero gets a chance to. What's the make up of their "magic" society? How/why is the hero a scarred warrior -- what's he been fighting? Seemed like stuff was made up and added as the story went along
3. The hero was angsty to the point of whinging. Ooh my god (except there is an actual name for the Magick deity he would curse/pray to, but I've forgotten it already), I cannae (yes, fake Scottish accent) have sex with you, I'll turn into a beast and scare you! Okay, then bugger off, why don't you?
4. The heroine was TSTL - she sneaks out of the house while her life is in danger to confront the bag guy alone.
5. And the sex and the constant mental lusting. Could the prose have been any purpler? I don't think so.

Checked the copyright date -- e-pubbed in 2004, trade paperback printing in 2005. You mean people bought this in electronic format first? I've already pbs'd this book and was happy to be rid of hit.
jmc_bks: (Default)
I'm posting this from a computer other than my own, and I've discovered that it doesn't like it if I use certain "bad" here's my very short, censored SB rant about a heroine's, er, parts.

This past weekend, I read Waiting for It, a Romantica (TM) release by Rhyannon Byrd from Ellora's Cave. The story was a little skimpy, but there was a plot and some character development to accompany the sexual marathon. Taylor Moore is a recently divorced woman living in her hometown; she was in love with Jake Farrell as a teenager, but he despised her. Jake was secretly in love with Taylor in high school, and he returns for her. This would have been a better book with 100 more pages of plot & character development. Still, it was a fairly good read. One of the better pieces of Romantica I've read, and I'm not sorry to have shelled out for the hard copy.

The thing that drove me crazy was Jake's appreciation and contemplation of Taylor's "sex-ravaged" parts. Seriously, Byrd used that phrase at least three a book that is only 215 pages, including cover pages and the pages at the end explaining why a reader may prefer ebooks to hardcopy. Couldn't she at least use a thesaurus? And if the parts in question were so ravaged, how was Taylor not screaming in pain everytime they had sex?

Romantica is about more than sex, it is also about the happy ending. But if there's that much hot monkey loving going on, shouldn't there be more than one way to describe the results of it?

Just wondering.


jmc_bks: (Default)

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