In preparation for my trip to Romantic Times Booklovers Convention later this month (http://guest.cvent.com/EVENTS/Info/Summary.aspx?e=39f9fb57-5ebc-49a4-b572-a2316b792e98), I am giving myself a crash course in romance literature. I have to admit, I'm not a romance reader. That doesn't mean I don't think there are great romance books out there, or that I'm trying to be a literary snob - it's just one genre I haven't had any experience with yet. Since my manuscript is solidly Chick Lit, I thought this convention would be a good way to network with other writers and hopefully, connect with an agent. Not to mention, there will be a plethora of my favorite vamp writers there. I can't wait!!!
So, for the next couple of weeks, I'll be reading and reviewing some of the authors who are presenting at the convention. I took the plunge by starting with the Erotic Romance, Reading Between The Lines by Lauren Dane. You know how the old cliché warns you not to judge a book by its cover? Well, I have never found a better example than this book. The cover art and the title seem bland and have nothing at all to do with the story inside. This turns out to be a great thing, because the story is wonderful!
Twenty-five year old Haley O'Brian is an American working for an Irish historic/anthropology foundation. Her current project is studying one of the many stone circles which can be found all over Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. It is here that she comes across a scroll that she needs to translate. Conall macCormac is a hunky Faerie who has been lurking in the wings for nine hundred years waiting for the right person to translate and read the scroll, releasing him from a curse placed on him be Ninane, a power hungry ex-fling. Slightly implausibly, but necessary none-the-less, Haley learns that she is actually a half-Faerie and of age to receive her induction into the Fae world. (Dane actually does a much better job with explaining this. Don't judge on my half-assed summary.) Predictably, Haley and Conall fall in a passionate love with each other and he makes her his wife. Together, they must defeat the evil Ninane who after learning of Conall's release from her curse, decides to seek vengeance.
While the hot-magic-Faerie-sex is well done, the story itself is engaging and beautifully written. Without giving too much away, I will just say that I at times the story was playful and light-hearted and at others heartbreakingly sorrowful. Dane is a great writer and is able to create a world so different, yet strikingly similar to our own. (The pubs in the Faerie hill serve Guinness. They could make their own brew, but they figure why do so when the perfection of Guinness exists.) The sex scenes were hot & steamy in all of the right ways. I would have liked to see a little more build up in the chemistry before they fell into bed together (They were ripping each other's clothes off by page 25.), but as the novel moved on, the love between this couple was believable.
Perhaps was not quite as believable was Haley's acceptance of her Fae heritage and her new life in the hill. She seemed to roll with the punches a little too easily. She did fight to hold on to certain remnants of the outside world, but I would have liked more insight into her thoughts.
Overall I give Reading Between the Lines...
Interpretation of Faerie lore - 3 1/2 bookmarks
Hot-Magic-Faerie-Sex - 12 bookmarks! (I mean, what's not to like?)
Character Development - 2 bookmarks
Literary Merit - 3 1/2 bookmarks
Plot - 4 bookmarks
Cover Art - 0 bookmarks (Although the author probably did not have much to do with that.)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Jacinda Barrett (Haley), Orlando Bloom (Conall), Lara Flynn Boyle (Ninane)
Would I recommend it? Sure, but only to right person. It is definitely NC-17 (as it should be for an Erotic Romance), and I'd never recommend it to my mother (again a bonus for the genre).