The Particulars: Contemporary Erotic Romance, Book 4 in series, 2008, Berkley, Out of Print, No Digital Edition. (Note: Series not listed in the Bookshelf section of author web site and all books in series are currently out of print with no digital editions - so possibly the author is working to get rights back from Berkley?)
Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?: No clue. Seriously, no clue whatsoever. I can tell that I didn't buy it new but there are no used bookstore stamps on it - so I might have picked this up at a SoCal Bloggers book swap? I mean, look at that cover. I kinda dig it.
The Review: I pretty much want to shrug my shoulders, say "Meh" and just be done with it. But for you all I'll try to expound, stating up front this review might be contradictory at times. Honestly, I probably should have DNF'ed it because I found it all so Meh, but I was at RT last week which meant it was either this book or no book at all (and the hostess not meeting her own challenge just seems sad), but I'll admit upfront I skimmed a good chunk of the final 1/3.
Kelsey Howard is a mid-30s bartender who is out there living life - which by her definition is to have lots of flings, lots of inconsequential hook-ups, plenty of booze, and a job that keeps her up all night and sleeping all day. She does what she wants, with whomever she wants (although she keeps her hook-ups strictly hetero). She's out there "living life." So why does she feel so lost sometimes.
One night, instead of hooking up with a regular bar customer (a definite no-no in her book), she goes home to her supply of toys. She has a good time...with the curtains open. Watching her the whole time? Hunky artist Harlan who lives across the street.
So we all know where this is going, right? And I wanted to love this book. I subscribe to the school of thought that women should be allowed to love sex and be unapologetic about it. And for the most part that's Kelsey. The downside to storytelling that is it's kind of boring. I know erotic romance has been overrun with Angst-O-Rama-Jama lately, but there needs to be some sort of conflict to keep the proceedings interesting outside of the Boink-Fest and everything felt superficially on-the-surface here. To make it more problematic? The author hints that Kelsey has "issues" and baggage, but keeps it skin deep. So on one hand I loved that this book lacks over the top angst, but on the other hand I'm disappointed when angst is hinted at but never really delivered on. See? Contradictory.
Harlan is basically an OK guy but firmly in the Too Good To Be True category. A perfect example? Kelsey finally agrees to go out with him, like normal dating people do, for a drink. Before Harlan gets there she decides to have some fun since he likes to watch. She propositions a guy, sits him down in a booth, and proceeds to get him off. Right there. In the bar. Harlan shows up and there's the girl he's meeting for a drink pleasuring another dude. Afterward he says this to Kelsey:
I'm not disappointed because of what you did. I'm not that man. I'm confident in myself and not threatened by watching a woman I find attractive with another man. What I'm disappointed in is the fact that you'd rather play games than get to know each other.I can read erotic romance as fantasy with the best of them (in fact a lot of erotic romance and erotica occupies the "fantasy reading" part of my brain) but this strained the seams considerably for me. You show up for a date with a girl and you arrive to find her doing Naughty Things with some strange dude. In public? And he doesn't freak out? Or get upset? Or whatever? Surely I can't be the only person to find this odd?
Characters from previous books in the series do show up (mostly in the second half) but this book stands alone reasonably well. In the end Kelsey still hasn't explored any of her hinted at baggage or past behavior but seems so much "happier" to her family and friends which is attributed to her falling in lurve. It's just so uninspired. The whole never dives below the surface. We skate along the edge, there are some hot encounters, but the characters remain strictly superficial. It's not bad it's just....meh. It's also the kind of story that I'll have trouble recalling anything about next week.
On the bright side? That's one less print trade paperback off the TBR Mountain Range and that feels pretty awesome.
Final Grade = C-