Wednesday, April 15, 2015

TBR Challenge 2015: What Happens In Vegas....

The Book: Double Down by Katie Porter

The Particulars: Contemporary Erotic Romance, Samhain, 2012, Book #1 in series, Available in both digital and print

Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?: Katie Porter is the writing team of Carrie Lofty and Lorelie Brown.  I'd never read Brown before, but I generally really enjoy Lofty's work - so I picked this one up at an RWA conference (uh, 2013?).  Plus I was intrigued behind the idea of the series, and that the authors were willing to explore a big bag of kinky tricks (in other words, not all BDSM all the time - praise Jeebus!)

The Review: I love erotic romance, but dude - it's got issues.  No genre fiction is immune to what I call trend chasing (see: The Da Vinci Code, Harry Potter, Twilight....), but erotic romance seems to fall really fast and hard into that particular pit.  The minute Fifty Shades became "a thing" we've been subjected to an endless stream of BDSM.  And sex clubs.  And red rooms of pain.  And a mountain of Angst-O-Rama-Jama that not even Sir Edmund Hillary could climb.  Now long time readers of this blog will be all like, "Seriously Wendy?  You of all people are poo-poo'ing angst?!"  I know, right?  I love me some angst.  But it has literally been running amok, totally unchecked, in erotic romance.  So it's kind of nice to read one that, by and large, falls into the "fun" category.  Sometimes the fun gets in the way of, oh, conflict - but hey.  There's promise here.

Major Ryan "Fang" Haverty is an honest-to-goodness fighter pilot.  Stationed at Nellis, he flies like the enemy in order to train Allied pilots.  He's kind of a big deal.  But Ryan has a deep, dark, naughty secret and all it takes to unlock it is a pair hot legs in seamed stockings.  Our boy Ryan?  Loves to role-play in the bedroom.  You know, naughty patient and authoritative nurse, out-of-town businessman and high priced call girl, yada yada yada.

The hot legs in seamed stockings belong to Cassandra Whitman, part-time waitress, part-time art gallery worker, and part-time tour guide at her parents' business.  She made the mistake of dipping her pen in the company ink, and her boss at the restaurant is her ex.  Ryan is eating dinner there when stuff happens, sparks fly, and they run out into the night to have some fun Sin City style.

What follows is Ryan and Cass getting to know each other, having fun, and having a grand ol' naughty time getting naked together.  It's....nice.  And to be honest?  Kind of boring.  Because while it is fun and sexy - there's not a whole lot in the way of conflict.  What is keeping these two from riding off into the sunset together?  Mostly Ryan's Poor White Trailer Trash Meets I Must Be A Pervert baggage.  See, Ryan is pretty hung up on the whole getting his rocks off by role-playing thing.  Which - I don't know - doesn't seem that big a deal to me.  Especially since Cass is a willing and enthusiastic participant.  There is no hesitation with this girl.  She's, like, all in.

It's pleasant, but to be frank - I never got that reader sense of urgency of OMG I Must Quit My Job So I Can Spend All Day Reading This Book!  It needed....something.  Which seems a bit two-faced of me since I just complained about all the angst floating around in erotic romance of late.  But this story went a little too far in the opposite direction.

That is, until the ending.  The ending is great.  Because by that point Ryan admits his deep dark secret fear that he's a sicko pervert and Cass ends up blasting him with both barrels.  The Black Moment in our story is really very well done.  It just takes a couple hundred pages for us to get to it - hence, my issues with the story.

I'm left feeling a bit lukewarm.  I loved that the authors explored a kink outside of the usual bag of erotic romance tricks, I liked the characters, I loved the set-up to the series.  It just was missing a decent shot of adrenaline.  But it was sexy and fun and I thought it ended on a really positive note.  So probably a good thing I have the next two books in the series waiting for me.  I'm up for a return visit.

Final Grade = C+


Lynn Spencer said...

I was reading a 2013 RWA find, too! Yours actually sounds more interesting than mine, I'm afraid. The book I read wasn't bad, just bland in more ways than one. This one sounds interesting, even if a bit low on the angst-o-meter.

Hilcia said...

Hmm... bland and fluffy? I'm in the mood for bland and fluffy right now, and I also enjoy Carrie Lofty's work. I'm bookmarking this one, although frankly right now contemporaries are not doing it for me. :(

azteclady said...

You know, I hadn't realized it myself, but I realized this week that I'm not enjoying them too much either.

Wendy said...

Category romance is always my fall-back when I host a Contemporary theme, but this year I really wanted to tackle a single title. "Bland" seems the word of the moment. I have plenty of single title contemporaries in the TBR, but I just.....couldn't go there. So erotic romance won out in the end. But hey, it IS contemporary! LOL

There was enough here for me to keep on with the series, it just lacked a little oomph in the conflict department. But OMG, so nice to read an erotic romance sans billionaire and sans BDSM. Worth reading for those points alone really :)

cleo reader said...

I think I own this one (kind of sad that I'm not sure, but I think it was a SBTB book club read - not that I ever actually read one of their book club books, but I kept buying them). Maybe one day I will read it.

I did just read some erotica from my TBR and it really hit the spot - The Obsession by Jeannie Lin (under another name that I don't remember). Nothing like some dark, angsty sex to break a reading slump :)

Wendy said...

Cleo: So glad to hear you liked the Jeannie Lin! I've got the first novella in my digital TBR (I picked it up when it was a freebie, just haven't gotten to it yet.....)

cleo reader said...

I also got it as a freebie. I'm feeling pretty damn proud of myself for reading it so quickly.

It's definitely erotica, not romance. There's no hea or hfn, although there's room for one at the end of the series. Lin says she was inspired partly by her love of Anne Rice's Beauty trilogy and there's definitely an old school erotica quality to it - it reminded me of some of the crazier Black Lace historicals I read in the 90s. There's some dub con, plus some political violence that's not sexy.

Wendy said...

Cleo: That sounds right in my wheelhouse! Lisa Cach had a serial out last year (1001 Erotic Nights) that had a similar "old school erotica" vibe to it and I gobbled it up. Almost like a nostalgic throwback kind of read.