Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's OK, I Still Love You

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+

11 comments:

~ames~ said...

Great review Wendy. I have this one in my tbr pile (as well as the majority of her reprinted titles-LOL) and I was always a little "huh?" over the plot. It still sounds interesting. :P

Cathy in AK said...

"...Patrick is up to the task." *heheh* *snort* Sorry, let me get the adolescent out of my system. There, much better. Anyhoo....

As a non-regular (as opposed to irregular? Ack! Go away adolescent, go away!) reader of erotica, I'm very picky about the stories I choose in this genre. I'm picky in general about having characters that don't grate on my nerves, so perhaps this one is a pass for me. Thanks for the review.

Tracy said...

Thanks for the review.

Help Me, Save Me, Protect Me, Love Me = Barf, Puke, Gag.

You said this so well! I hate that in my erotica!

Wendy said...

I love me some Emma Holly, and I really cannot recommend Cooking Up A Storm more. I also really loved In The Flesh - but I think I'm in the minority there because I know other readers who weren't wild about it. I still have Top Of Her Game and Menage sitting in my TBR.

I'm wondering if my problem isn't BDSM stories in general? Cuz as much as I love erotica, there isn't a single BDSM story among my stash of keepers. Hmmmm.....

A theory to ponder anyway.

JamiSings said...

I long ago came to the conclustion that people who write about S&M know nothing about it. The Story Of O for instance is a how-to manual for how NOT to practice it.

JenB said...

I've just discovered your blog and I LOVE it!! Fun, snarky (in a good way), and just plain honest.

I own EH's entire backlist, but this is one of the books I just haven't been able to make myself read yet. Now I'm glad I haven't bothered. The parts you didn't like are exactly the parts I wouldn't like either. Whew. Bullet dodged.

Did you read Fairyville or Personal Assets? Those were both 5-star keepers for me.

Wendy said...

JenB: I really liked Personal Assets, but Fairyville? Ugh. I don't like paranormal mixed with my erotica (chocolate with my peanut butter is another matter entirely).

Like Velvet Glove, I didn't think it was a "bad" book though - and I remember writing in my review that I thought it would be a keeper for many other readers.

JenB said...

LOL...Fairyville gets very mixed reviews. I read it when it first came out, so honestly I have no idea what I'd have to say about it if I read it now.

I know several people that loved Velvet Glove, but I rarely like this kind of story or this kind of heroine. I don't care for love triangles, I don't like unsympathetic heroines, and I don't like the "string a guy along" plot. Blehhh.

Rosie said...

Okay, I guess I'd have to admit that I like VELVET GLOVE because it was my "first" Emma Holly. Loved MENAGE. Just a well done accounting about how complicated a relationship with 3 people can be. Refreshing that. I also have to admit that I have a tendency to forget about the creepy beginning of this book and concentrate on the part where Patrick, Basil and Miss Thang are rooming together.

Jill D. said...

Okay see, I like it when the heroine gets rescued. The whole "save me, protect me" theme seems to work for me. I think I would be a little more leary of the whole mulitple partner aspect of the story. Would you consider this book an erotic romance, or just erotica? Is there a HEA? I have only read two books by Emma Holly before and they were just OK for me. They were Beyond Seduction and something Innocence. One was a historical and the other a paranormal. I have been a little hesitant about reading more of her stories because of the multiple partner aspect, but she does get good reviews. Hmmmm, food for thought.

Wendy said...

Jill: I would classify Emma Holly's Black Lace books as "erotica with non-traditional happy endings." They do end happily, just not in the traditional romance-y sense...cuz...yeah you nailed it (tee hee)...there's that whole multiple partner thang going on.