Sometimes you can appreciate a story even though as you're reading it you know it's "not your thing." That was my experience while reading Turn It On, a new contemporary novella from Vivan Arend. There's nothing really wrong with this story, it just wasn't always my personal cup of tea. But more on that in a minute....
Maxine Turner has inherited her grandmother's sprawling house and it should be a happy time. The house holds many wonderful memories of growing up with her large, protective, close-knit family. Unfortunately she no sooner takes possession of the place when strange things start happening. Vandals break in and cause serious damage to the old place. Then there are the weird prank phone calls. So when Ryan Claymore hires her to do some web design work for his newly launched security firm, it's a match made in heaven. In exchange for getting his web site up and running, he'll install the old house with a state of the art security system.
Ryan went from military man to business man when the care of his special needs brother was thrust upon him. He's still trying to figure out what his new normal is when he meets Max and his hormones kick into overdrive. The attraction between them is immediate, but between her family, his brother and the vandalism going on at her house - will they be able to stop dealing with "issues" long enough to succumb to the passion?
Umm - that would be a big hell ya!
Turn It On is an interesting mix of traditional category romance and steamy erotic romance. On the traditional end of the spectrum we have Max, who is younger than Ryan (the author never really specifies how much younger) and she's a bit sheltered. She's not completely naive or too-stupid-to-live - she's just spent her entire life under the watchful, protective, and claustrophobic eyes of her family. In fact, she's at a point in her life where she wants to break away from them a little bit. She's desperate to spread her wings.
Max's character pretty much sets up the conflict to be a bit of a rescue fantasy. We have the young, less worldly heroine being rescued by the big, strong Alpha hero. Nothing wrong with this at all. Hell, the romance genre was practically built on this trope. It's just not a trope that flips my switch. The author avoids some of the more obvious pitfalls here by making Maxine "young" as opposed to "brain-dead." Certainly she hasn't experienced life on the same level as Ryan, but I also never felt like she was a moron either. Even when a potential too-stupid-to-live moment creeps into the story, the author is able to right the ship by having Max realize that her reaction is because she's worried and scared.
So yeah, traditional.
On the other end of the spectrum we have the erotic elements. The sex and intimacy in this story are on par with what I've read in other erotic romances. In keeping with the traditional feel of the tale, Maxine's previous sexual experiences were seriously lacking and it's up to the hero to "teach" her how great sex can be. Again, not my thing. But it's certainly hot stuff, and if this flips your switch - hey, more power to you.
I'm not a big fan of Big Strong Alpha Hero Rescuing Heroine, but it works in this story. Equal parts emotional, sweet and sexy, Turn It On is a quick read, with interesting characters, and some spice to liven up the proceedings.
Final Grade = B-
This novella is currently only available as an eBook. According to the author's web site, a print version is due out in December 2010.