Thursday, May 19, 2005

Hey Taboo! Get Outta My Way!

So I just finished up the Honk If You Love Real Men anthology last night (dumbest title ever). And you know what? It was really good! All the stories were readable, but two of them really stood out. So let's discuss those shall we?

First up - Pamela Britton. OMG - what has this woman been reading? I'm going to be discussing some spoilers so you'll need to do some highlighting if you want the whole scoop.

The heroine has survived a traumatic sexual encounter - {spoiler start} she was raped by her former fiance' {spoiler end}. And while she has been in therapy, she's still wary around men. So she decides to seek out her first love - the man she lost her viginity to as a teenager. Our hero is shocked to see her after all these years - but once he learns of her plight he agrees to help her.

What is really shocking about this story is one sexual encounter in particular. Typical fare for erotica, but I've never read anything like it in romantica. That's right - Britton writes a scene where {spoiler start} the heroine has a same sex encounter with another woman! It's at a party, the woman slips her a spiked drink, and the heavy petting begins. And man is it hot! {spoiler end}. While I applaud Britton for breaking the ultimate taboo when it comes to romance, I'm wasn't entirely impressed with how this particular scene ends {spoiler start} with the hero barging in and calling this other woman a "slut." Um excuse me? But I do like how the heroine thanks the woman - saying she hadn't been kissed in a very long time. And I think it also illustarted to the heroine that yes, she could still feel sexual pleasure - she just had to work through her anxiety over men {spoiler end}.

Erotica readers should welcome this. Prudy romance readers already whining about how filthy, dirty sex is overtaking the genre will likely be unthrilled. But bugger on them. Brava Ms. Britton. Brava.

I also rather liked the Lora Leigh story, even if it did feature a dominant, bossy, pain-in-the-ass Alpha male. He's a Navy SEAL who is hot for the heroine. She's hot for him too - but she's also terrified of what a relationship between them would mean. Her sitting home worrying about him, and the possibility that he might not return from a mission. She runs, he chases. He also bosses her around. Bother. But man are the love scenes hot. I especially love the fact that {spoiler start} the heroine is a virgin, but she masterbates in the first chapter. Oh praise saints - a virgin heroine who isn't dead below the waist! {spoiler end}

Note to self: look up Leigh's Ellora's Cave backlist.

I also did enjoy the Carrie Alexander offering - mainly for the fact that she writes blue-collar characters. A bit of a rarity in Romance Novel Land. I had more of a mixed reaction to Susan Donovan's story - if only for the fact that her heroine "yells" at the hero after he rescues her in the woods. Well what was he supposed to do - {spoiler start} let the terrified, injured coyote attack her and her fluffy, nothing dog? Instead she yells at him for "killing it." I was kind of hoping he'd turn the gun on her next {spoiler end}. But oh well. The story does recover from this first meeting though - thank goodness.

This is a really strong romantica anthology. It's a rarity that I enjoyed all the stories - most of them rating around a B for me. But the Britton entry definately stands out as the most memorable of the bunch. I'd be curious to see what kind of "fan mail" she gets over this story. I think it will be evenly split between the "outraged" and the "you go girl"s.

But what do I know?

I had every intention of moving on to a Harlequin series title next. But dang if I ain't in the mood for more of the steamy stuff. Next up - The Tutor by Portia Da Costa. It's been entirely too long since I read a Black Lace Novel.


sybil said...

Honk If You Love Real Men, never heard of this or maybe I did and I blocked out the stupid title from my mind.

I will have to look for it. Thanks for the rec.

Nicole said...

Soo....would you say it's worth the trade price? I've been thinking about getting it. I've read Lora's EC stuff and some I like, some I hate.

Wendy said...

It's a June book - which might be why you hadn't heard of it :-)

I really think it's worth the trade price. Even being ho-hum on the Donovan story - I did enjoy the entire collection. And the Leigh story is a good one here - but man, is the hero really Alpha.....

Nicole said...

I'll have to put it on my list.

Oh...Lora is unable to write an extreme alpha male. Just not capable.. Which leads me to sometimes not like them at all.

CW said...

LOL! Thanks for posting about it--sounds fun. The asexual virgin always makes me roll my eyes, so I'll check this out. Do you know if it's coming out in mmPB later?

Wendy said...

I'd be surprised if it makes it to mass market. It's published by St. Martin's and, unlike Brava, they don't have the best track record for following with a mmpb :-(

lost said...

I'm really looking forward to see what you think of Portia Da Costa's book [I haven't read that one as her books are HTF].

Jay said...

Yes, what Maili said. :)

CW said...

Wendy--Aw, bummer. Think I'll still get it, though, thanks to your review. :D