Thanks to the Scheduling Gods, I had a glorious four-day weekend where I gorged myself at the reading trough. In between a binge of category romance, I found the time to zip through three digital short stories, all of which had something to recommend them.
The Mermaid's Tale by Grace D'Otare is an Amazon exclusive that continues on with a series she first started publishing with Harlequin Spice.
Maeve and Devlin are a married couple who 1) still like to have sex with each other and 2) tell each other naughty stories. This time around Devlin spins Maeve his own version of The Little Mermaid, set against the backdrop of the French Resistance during World War II. Lorie is a former nurse now singing in a night club. David and Alex are both owners of said nightclub, with David working undercover as the stage manager/costume/make-up guy and Alex as the mysteriously hunky spy who is gone for stretches of time. One thing leads to another and the trio find themselves hiding out in a secret tunnel to avoid detection by enemy troops. Gee, whatever shall they do to pass the time?
I still like the idea of this series (the married couple telling stories angle just flat-out works for me) and the setting is great. D'Otare does a good job of delivering an actual story here, although I think I would have liked a little more Sexy Times and the writing could have been a little smoother in spots. But it has great atmosphere, interesting characters, and I'm happy to see the series is still alive.
Final Grade = B-
Saskia Walker's voice, and on that score Forbidden does not disappoint. It still has her trademark sense of longing (the author writes "yearning" very well) and the Sexy Times are nice, steamy, and blessedly BDSM-free. Too bad the plot didn't work as well for me.
Emmanuelle Forsythe is 21-years-old and has the hots for her father's estate manager. Jacob Finch returns those feelings but has already been warned away by Emmanuelle's stepmother. Turns out Daddy and Step-Mummy have plans for the girl to marry money.
This is a plot that just works better for me in a historical. I "get" that the rich are different and yes, probably do still marry for reasons other than twu wuv, but the girl is 21. I mean, she's got options assuming she's willing to toss off the yoke of monied privilege and oh....get a job. So yeah, it just doesn't work as well for me in the 21st century. But it's hot, steamy, and if you go for the Romeo & Juliet plot and prefer it when the idiot kids don't end up dead? This one is worth a look.
Final Grade = C
Charlotte Stein has been all of my erotica reading life, but I'm ready to take the "Gone Fishin'" sign off my ovaries and have this woman's babies - that's how much I was blown away by Restraint. With this, just the second bit of work I've read by Stein, she's managed to knock the wind out of me....again!
Mallory is getting ready to go on holiday with friends when she finds out Artie is tagging along. Given that Artie treats her like something he stepped in, this is not welcome news. He flat-out seems to despise her, and Mallory has no clue why. So imagine her shock when she learns what Artie's problem with her really is.
I've been whining a bit (OK, a lot) lately about how over BDSM I am and how bored I am with every erotic author on the planet playing in that landscape. What Stein does is so different, so refreshing, that I'm probably grading on a curve but ask me if I care? A repressed hero. Truly....A. Repressed. Hero. A heroine who likes to talk dirty and isn't afraid to make the first move. Hot, Sexy Times with nary a whip, chain, rope or sex toy in sight.
Dare I say it? Could this be love?
Stein's writing style here is a wee bit rambling, which fits with the first person narration - but it all works so well in this story. Especially since, like Mallory, the reader is fairly clueless from the get-go on what Artie's deal is. There's enough of a positive ending here that I think romance fans will be pleased and now I want to drop everything and read nothing but Charlotte Stein books. Seriously. I can't do that, but I soooooo want to.
Final Grade = A