Friday, February 21, 2014

Flashes Of Me
I first heard of Cynthia Sax last year when I got some promo material for her Seen trilogy.  I was intrigued by the voyeurism premise, but at the time I must have had too many review books on my plate (or something) and I never tried them.  So when I had the opportunity to get an ARC of Flashes Of Me, I decided to give it a whirl.  What with BDSM currently running amok in erotic romance, I'm always happy to try something "different" - and right now?  An exhibitionist heroine and a hero with voyeuristic tendencies sounded rather refreshing.  Unfortunately none of it worked for me.  I did read it in one sitting, but that's honestly the nicest thing I can say about my reading experience.

Katalina is at loose ends, so decides to leave New York for Los Angeles and takes an internship at Blaine Technologies.  What she's not telling anybody is that she's the daughter of Blaine's biggest rival - a rival that Blaine is in the process of buying out.  Just wanting to keep her head down and start over, she uses her mother's maiden name to land the job.  But before she even sets foot in the office building she has a sexy encounter with Blaine's head of cyber-security, Henley.  One thing leads to another, and shenanigans are afoot.

The author is shooting for a Beauty and the Beast vibe with this story, which is normally a theme I cannot get enough of.  Unfortunately this is an instance where I found the whole premise a hot mess.  At first I had high hopes for Kat.  She's beautiful, blond and has big boobs - so naturally everyone assumes she's a brain-dead ninny.  For her part Kat plays that role beautifully, 1) because it's what people expect and 2) sometimes it's better to have people underestimate you.  In her words:
"Some people think big men are dumb.  Some people also think blond women are stupid and no one should wear pink to a funeral.  I learned long ago to ignore some people."
Here's the problem, I don't think Kat is playing.  I really do think she's a brain-dead ninny.  She stumbles around the office like a moron, says inane clap-trap like "My father always says....." and never rises to any occasion where you think she just might possibly have two brain cells to rub together.  In other words, the author wants me to think the "dumb blond" thing is an act and.....

I don't.  She really is a dumb blond.

The story isn't helped at all by the writing, which was straight out of bad late-night cable TV soft core porn.  After a bumpy beginning that showed some promise, the whole affair spirals down the rabbit hole to just plain terrible.  I get it, Henley is a big dude.  As in, football linebacker big.  The kind of guy who probably has to have his clothes custom made he's so big.  But if I read the word "behemoth" once I think I read it a dozen times.  Then there was the dialogue, which was just god-awful.  Henley keeps calling Kat "kitten" for cripes sake.  But the final straw?  What really pushed me over the edge?  The Rescue Fantasy.

Rescue Fantasy tropes have existed in the romance genre since the dawn of time.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with them, when they're done right.  What woman alive hasn't had a day where she just wants someone to swoop in and take care of....everything?  Including her!  We've all been there.  The problem here is that Kat is such an idiot she needs the rescue fantasy.  Otherwise she'd curl up into a little ball and die.  Look cupcake, I get it.  You want the big strong man to protect you.  Hell, I want that too.  But this is the sort of story where that's all Kat has.  Let's say Henley wakes up one morning, finds Kat's blond hair turning ash and her big boobs starting to sag and decides to bang the next pretty intern that walks through the doors at Blaine Technologies?  Kat isn't the kind of woman to stand on her own.  She's not the kind of woman to tell him to take a hike and don't let the door smack you in the ass on the way out.  She would be the kind to ugly cry, have a load of plastic surgery and allow him mistresses on the side just so long as he doesn't leave her.  The author can try to tell me Kat is "smart" all she wants, but that doesn't make it true, especially when she thinks shit like:
"He's a man seeking to plant his seed inside his woman, his urgency palpable, his need gratifying.  I'm a woman submitting, welcoming my man's sexual supremacy, knowing he'll always protect me, cherish me."
I may never stop puking.

I don't slap F grades on books lightly.  There's typically at least something, that one small glimmer of hope.  But looking at this story, thinking about how I felt while reading it, there was just nothing here that I liked.  It did start out OK, but quickly descended into brain-bleed inducing territory.  I'm done.  I'm out.

Final Grade = F

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