I’m doing book stuff twice this week because, well, because I can and because I’ve had a few books I’ve really wanted to talk about and haven’t had the space I felt they deserved so there.
First up – Vivi Anna’s Blood Secrets. This is, IMO, the best book Vivi has written so far and my very favorite Nocturne from the line as of yet. Vivi uses some excellent worldbuilding, strong characters and really wonderful sexual tension to create a memorable paranormal romance with substance and heat. I never got the sense that Vivi rushed or pulled a romance fast one to put the characters together. I will most definitely be back for the next book.
I loved Caine and the hints of his pain and struggle with his feelings about humans and his growing feelings for Eve. We’ve got a vampire who isn’t afraid of his otherness at all. He’s not an emo vampire who bemoans his existence, he’s who he is and I quite enjoyed reading him.
In Eve we get a woman who compared to the others she’s working with is fragile and deals with a great many setbacks. They get to her, she’s not perfect, she’s not a superhero at all. She’s human which is a fabulous contrast in Necropolis. She faces a lot of crap but doesn’t give up even when she’s visibly shaken, which is a nice thing. She’s no doormat but she also realizes she needs help in some situations.
Fabulous sexual tension and Anna uses every word to build it to the time when Caine and Eve finally consummate their relationship. It takes skill to not rush and to let things build so the reader is as impatient as the characters are and Anna succeeds here.
You can check out what Vivi is up to next at her website (also designed by Frauke!)
And then there’s Sasha White’s Lush. This is a three story anthology of erotic romances and as always, I was drawn in by Sasha’s voice immediately. Sasha has some indefinable quality that shines through and I always connect with it, no matter what it is she’s writing about.
But in Lush, she exceeded my expectations. Last week I talked about BDSM in writing and how so many writers failed to get into the heads of the characters? Sasha kicks ass with this in Principles of Lust, the first story in the anthology and my personal favorite. We’ve got a strong woman who isn’t afraid of or ashamed of her sexuality and a strong man who knows what he wants but isn’t afraid to admit he’s been presented with something he didn’t even realize he needed.
I think her writing with Principles of Lust in particular although all three stories are smart and sexy, is deft and clever. Novellas are damned hard to do well. You’ve got a lot to communicate in a short span of words but she does it and she does it well. We get into Zack’s head as he’s attracted to a woman but knows she’s way too aggressive for his appetites. The scenes where he’s topping her are sexy and not overdone. He’s not a stereotype and neither is Teal. I appreciated the strong woman who gives up control aspect of the story and also the struggle of what it means to give up power and what submission truly given is. This novella will forever be one that I’ll point to when people ask about what kind of BDSM writing I like.
Passion Play – the second story is told in alternating first person between the hero and heroine. Again I think the power behind this story (and all of them in the antho) is how White takes unlikely romance characters and makes them into wonderful romance heroine and heroes. First person can be risky but I think she gave us a great glimpse with the alternating chapters and POV.
The last story, Sexual Healing has a fantastic wounded hero and another woman unshamed of her sexuality. I think that’s what I enjoyed the most – I’m pretty bored with the “oh I hated sex until he came along” heroines in romance. I loved that each woman in Lush loved her sexuality even as she learned more about herself through her interaction with the hero. All three women are interesting and quirky and I enjoyed each one of them and well, I can’t complain in White’s use of dominant alpha males as heroes, they’re my favorite and she writes them in vivid strokes (heh) instead of making them cardboard jerks who claim to be alpha.
Lucky for everyone, Sasha’s got more books in store. You can keep track at her website.