After a dismal reading month of July, August has proven to be quite productive. So when I started jonesin' for a "naughty" book, I immediately hit the mammoth TBR pile and unearthed Velvet Glove by Emma Holly. I know several readers who have a fondness for this book, and Lord knows I wish I could say I was joining their ranks. While this isn't "bad" by any stretch of the imagination, it ruffled a few of my Personal Preference feathers. Calm down, calm down....let me explain:
Audrey was on vacation in Florida when she met Sterling. Sterling is wealthy, older, and totally into the S&M thing. He sets about making Audrey his submissive. Lo and behold, the girl likes it. That being said, Sterling is more S&M jackass than S&M tender lover. So Audrey, taking a page from the Romance Novel Heroine Handbook, does what girls like her do - she runs away.
Off she runs back to Washington D.C. into the arms of her "best friend" Tommy. Tommy has loved her forever and ever, but she doesn't love him "like that." Still, that doesn't keep her from sending him mixed signals by putting her mouth on various parts of his anatomy. This aspect of the story annoyed the crap out of me. Fine, you don't love the guy. Tell him that! And for the love of all that is holy, stop sexing him up! In my book this makes Audrey a tease. If I want a tease heroine to drive me insane, I'll find a too-stupid-to-live romance heroine thankyouverymuch.
Anyway, Sterling is not happy that Audrey has taken off, so he calls in a favor with a senator he's got in his pocket. The senator, tired of being in said pocket, calls up his hunky, bar-owning son, Patrick. He asks Patrick to protect Audrey, and ahem show her how lovely a legitimate dominant partner can be. This being an erotic novel, Patrick is up for to the task.
Besides Audrey being a tease with Tommy, she gives off a Little Girl Lost, Please Rescue Me vibe for the majority of the story that just grates on me. The reason I read erotica is to get away from Save Me, Protect Me, Love Me damsels like this. Yeah, Audrey likes sex, and has a whole mess of it over the course of this story, but there's still that underlying thread of helpless kittenish pet that annoys the everlovin' crap out of me.
Patrick's OK. He's hot, he's hunky, he owns a bar - all things I can get behind. But honestly? The character that salvages this story for me is Basil, the cross-dressing, gay jazz singer. Yeah, I can hear you thinking that he sounds like a cartoon cliche, but there are two scenes with him - one where he's talking to Audrey alone, another where he's talking to Patrick alone - that are just fabulous. The kind of scenes I would read over and over again. They're that good people. Insightful, touching, intelligent - damn, give me a minute here....
So where does that leave me? Originally I would say this book ended up being a B- for me. Even though I had Personal Preference Issues, it's still head and shoulders above a lot of what's getting marketed as "erotica" these days. But dang, I really did not like Audrey. Help Me, Save Me, Protect Me, Love Me = Barf, Puke, Gag. I still love me some Emma Holly, but I don't think this is one I'll have the itch to reread. Now where did I leave my copy of Cooking Up A Storm? Final Grade = C+