20 August 2010
Bound By Honor, is the time old tale of Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Prince John, and the Sheriff of Nottingham with a fresh twist. Told primarily from Marian's perspective, Gale begins the odd and seductive dance between Robin, Marian, and Will (our Sheriff of Nottingham), triangulating the characters ably. (I would throw Prince John into the mix...but I'm not sure "quadrangulating" could pass for a real word....lol)
Sent to the court of Prince John by Queen Eleanor as a spy, Marian is thrust into a world of court intrigue more dangerous and costly than she imagined. Immediately, she is caught between the playful persual of Robin Hood, the outlaw, and the provocative protection of the Sheriff of Nottingham, who seeks to keep Lady Marian from the clutches of the vile Prince John. As Marian maneuvers in the court, she begins to see something more behind the cold, uncaring facade the Sheriff projects, while realizing how tenuous her situation is in Prince John's domain. Gale adds in a few supporting characters mostly as fodder for Robin's philandering, or additional bodies for Prince John's "Court of Pleasure", with none worthy of an honorable mention.
Will's character is intriguing and I absolutely adored the idea of the Sheriff of Nottingham as a rival love interest. Gale nicely created a character I hated to love, but did, and loved to hate. Purposefully, I suppose, Gale wrote Robin Hood as a playboy adventurer, which highlighted the greater masculinity of the Sheriff. Terrific! Not so terrific is Gale's Prince John, a cruel, sexual deviant and possible psychopath whose blackness stains every other page of the novel. The idea of Prince John being the above named things isn't what irritates - we need a truly bad man to be the antithesis to our hero, however, Gale gave Prince John and his wretched behavior far too much attention. Unfortunately, this decision took quite possibly the best idea I've heard of for a romance novel and reduced it to a mere backdrop for Prince John's carnal carnival.
Recommendation: ** _ _ _ (two out of five stars)
I'll Never Be Able To See That King John in Disney's Robin Hood The Same Way Again
The idea for the story of Bound By Honor is fantastic; I wish I had thought of it. The original story of Robin Hood isn't one of romance, primarily. Maid Marian is certainly part of the story, but love and sex aren't the focus. To decide to transform the story into erotica is pure genius. Unfortunately, that seems to have been the last stroke of genius Gale had concerning Bound By Honor.
She makes some extraordinarily poor choices in her characterization of all the main characters. None of them work on any level. Maid Marian is a recent widow, having lost her exceedingly old and unsexy husband, and she seems quite unsexy herself. That's just not erotic. Robin Hood is something akin to a teenage boy of 18 or 19: he flits from female to female and has absolutely no substance at all, sexually or otherwise. Will, the Sheriff of Nottingham, is Gale's best attempt at an erotic character, but he is overshadowed at almost every turn by her characterization of King John. He is a superfreak. He likes to inflict pain on others, particularly women, and his deviance seems to know no bounds (no pun intended). And Gale spends far too much of the book inflicting him on the reader.
There can be something quite erotic about deviance in erotica, if it's handled correctly. (Moira and I might part ways on this particular idea, but I think if S&M is written well, it can be incredibly erotic.) However, the sexual deviant must be appealing outside of his or her deviance. This is key. Whether the character is incredibly handsome/beautiful, rakish, or intelligent, something other than simply being a freak must be present. This is not the case in Bound By Honor. King John is not appealing on any level. He is physically and psychologically one of the most repellent characters I've read. His deviance isn't sexy; it's simply aberrant. This is why it doesn't work.
Bound By Honor could have been an incredible erotic story. Anne Rice understood that fairy tales have the potential for smoking hot sex. Her Erotic Sleeping Beauty Trilogy is steamy times ten! If you want to read those old children's tales with a sexy, wild twist, give her stories a try. Avoid Bound By Honor. It simply leaves you wishing for more and wishing for so much less at the same time.
19 August 2010
Marek Halter takes the little information found in Deuteronomy about Zipporah and creates a wonderful novel which is not difficult to read, but is, in fact, well written. Halter tells the story from Zipporah's perspective, showing the Biblical events that lead to the Exodus in a new light. Wholly fictional, none should balk at the "liberties" taken by the author, in his re-creation of those time honored events. Having Zipporah be different from those around her worked well in the story, as it gave Moses a common experience with her. This broad certainly appreciated the strength and dignity Halter wrote into Zipporah. She was wise, faithful, humble, modest, and full of love, which are qualities to love in a heroine. That Zipporah was a real woman caught up in the other-worldly events unfolding around her family only furthered my appreciation of Halter's willingness to develop her character and story. Also, quite interesting was Halter's interpretation of the supporting characters. Jethro truly was a wise old sage, yet Halter added a mischievous hint, which made him more lovable. Sefoba and Orma, Zipporah's sisters, were opposite ends on the spectrum, with Sefoba loving and kind, and Orma selfish and cruel. Most surprising (although it shouldn't be from reading Deuteronomy...) were Aaron and Miriam, Moses' brother and sister. While holding Moses up as Yahweh's chosen, they simultaneously use, then disobey and devour the man. While claiming Yahweh as their righteous and just God, they perpetuate hate, prejudice, and injustice. Together, these characters set the backdrop for Zipporah as she strives to help her husband, Moses, sort through his separate pasts as an Egyptian prince, a Hebrew slave, and a foreign shepherd in Midian to embrace his destiny as the Deliverer of Yaweh.
Recommendation: ****_ (which is 4 out of 5 stars)
Zipporah, Wife of Moses, is the second book in the Canaan Trilogy by Halter. The first is called, Sarah, and the third, Lilah. I will definately check them out and offer reviews in the future.
12 August 2010
Poignant and thought provoking, Lewis, in his altered retelling of the classical myth involving Cupid, Psyche, and Orual, unearths the sweet and terrible mysteries between mortal and divine, which each man ardently reaches for yet at the same time, contemptuously shuns.
Three sisters born to the King of Glome, a barbaric kingdom preceding the advent of Christianity, Orual, Redival, and Psyche are ensnared by the reality and superstitions of the day, and from which the myth is born. Orual, the oldest sister, ugly and spurned by their father sets all her love and attention upon her youngest sister, Psyche, whose beauty is revered by all. Superstitions and pagan worship practices of the day demand a human sacrifice when drought and famine descend upon the community, with the lot falling to pure and lovely Psyche, who is left for the Shadowbrute to be both loved and devoured. Having a doubter's heart, Orual is devastated by the loss of the only love in her life and determines to discover the truth of what has become of her beloved Psyche. When she discovers her sister alive and happy, she is overjoyed, but this joy quickly turns to fear and anger as Psyche speaks of her life in a palace as the secret wife of a god - a god whose face she may not look upon. Fearing madness or some more horrible plot has deceived her dear sister, Orual defiantly sets off a chain of events that lead to a terrifying encounter with the divine, and to a lifetime of suffering and anguish of the soul.
Orual's accusation against and demand for justice is met by silence on the part of the gods, which strengthens her belief in her innocence before them. What Orual must discover is that the gods do not speak openly to us, nor let us answer until we cease our ramblings, enact true self-reflection and examination, speak from our true hearts, and finally have faces.
Recommendation: ****_ (4 out of 5 stars)
Definitely worth reading. Lewis gives us glimpses of ourselves in more than one character in his masterful way.
06 August 2010
Darkness Burning is a vampire novel set in New Orleans. It's sensual in its style and full on, no holds barred erotica. This book isn't your average vampire romance. Stories like those in Christine Feehan's Carpathian vampire series and J.R. Ward's Brotherhood vampire series read like children's literature compared to Darkness Burning. Delilah Devlin's vampires and supporting characters are wild, particularly when it comes to sex. This book is steamy and then some. If you're looking for some funky, let your freak hair fly, down and dirty erotic vampire story, this is one to read.
The leading lady in Darkness Burning is a young journalist named Mikaela Jones. Mikaela is a mysterious young lady who can't remember her past. That works in romance/erotica novels; there are no pesky family members for any potential romantic hero/erotic sex partner to have to contend with. The hero of the story is a vampire named Alex Broussard. He's sexy (he's a vampire; it's an occupational perk) and he's extraordinary, even in the supernatural world. Alex is a born vampire, which means he has power that others don't. Ok. Everything is in place for these two to get together. Beautiful girl, check. Hot, sexy vampire, check. Seductive location, check. Oh, but there's a wrench in the plan for them to get together: some vampire group that wants Alex dead is a problem for him, and once they know Mikaela is with him, it's a problem for her too.
Darkness Burning doesn't have much story, so to speak, and what it does have is a little bizarre. There's a pregnant vampire with Alex's baby who is with some other vampire; there's some portal Alex travels through with a wolf he used to have sex with; there are the vampire group politics and issues that involve Alex and Mikaela's safety; and there's the ending--discussing it here would give too much away, but it's pretty wild. However, the main focus of the story is sex. And this isn't your average vampire/mortal sex in which the vampire bites the mortal, tastes the sweetest nectar he's every sampled, and then wrestles with the torture of deciding to turn her or not. No, this is the kind of sex that soft core porn stars say, "No, I don't do that shit on film. My parents are still living," if they are asked to do it in a Skinamax film. This sex is fucking raw. Any time a reader gets finished with a sex scene and has to rub her eyes because what she read was that...wild...freaky...uninhibited, then that's some fucking raw sex.
There is some romance here, though. Alex does care about Mikaela almost instantly after meeting her, and he does try to make sure she will avoid the danger around him. She is charmed by him, but it isn't until later in the story that it's because of anything but sexual attraction.
Darkness Burning isn't a bad erotic story. It's a bit convoluted, but the sex is the wildest this broad has ever read out of the romance section at Borders. Devlin sure isn't a shy wallflower in her writing, and another of her stories would be worth a try. At the very least, even if the next story is like Darkness Burning, there will be some incredible sex to read about.
Burn, Baby, Burn....
Darkness Burning does burn indeed, and Devlin's write up of the vampire world in the Big Easy left no taboo undiscovered. On a positive note, Devlin's novel introduced at least some vampire characters who were positively bad...(I personally hold to to the Stoker standard). Otherwise, Devlin's novel scorched a trail in ink that would leave Caligula blushing like a school-girl virgin.
Not strong on story, Darkness Burning quickly throws our main characters together, one a reporter, the other a powerful vampire. The city is in near chaos after a natural disaster, leaving the underworld virtually unchecked, and our heroine knows she risks her life to investigate. The trail of her story leads her to Alex, and she falls under his enthrallment instantly. Likewise, he feels an irresistible pull toward Mikaela, which places her in danger as Alex maneuvers the powers that be in vampire hierarchy in order to claim his rightful place as the last male born vampire.
I cannot praise Darkness Burning, as no character stands out in this novel. Devlin's purpose is pure erotica, and she certainly delivers. Those craving a good love story will be seriously disappointed. Those who seek out this novel should prepare for a wild ride, indeed!
Recommendation: Read it, if you dare! But for crying out loud, keep eyedrops nearby.....You may need to flush those peepers out after a few scenes in Devlin's alter-reality. Oy-Vey!