Well, y'all -- our sojourn into the debaucherous world of romance novels is winding down, with the least debaucherous and smutty offering so far. Like, no one even had sex yet a fifth into the book! I was beginning to think that its pitch of "mature YA" wasn't a euphemism for smut, and I'd have to resort to recalling* the Black Dagger Brotherhood series as a backup. Thankfully, I was spared from such a fate when the sexytimes finally commenced in this book.
*Because, yes, I've read them. (Or should I say, "Yhes"?) And yes, that means plural 'them'.
Before we begin: a housekeeping matter. Contrary to what the previous reviews might suggest, I don't actually hate romance novels. Other than hateful literature, I don't hate any books! By all means, read whatever you'd like; I sure as shit do.** And playing the devil's advocate for a moment (not to be confused with playing The Devil's Advocate), I realize that this particular format mainly focuses on the flaws, and I'm not even sure how smutty books that I've loved*** would fare under that scrutiny. (Though playing the devil's advocate to my devil's advocate, these are incredibly low bars to clear: were the 1) dialogue and 2) sex scenes bad? All I ask is for those things to not be awful.)
**Again, see the Black Dagger Brotherhood admission.
***Not a reference to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, for a change.
But more importantly, these reviews form an extremely small sample size; four books do not an entire genre make. Just like with YA, there are good and bad romance novels. I've just chosen horribly for myself, because I listened to my own poor impulses**** instead of experts. Even so, I would never disparage everything that falls under the romance umbrella -- and especially its readers -- based on a few bad instances. And I hope you don't, either.
****To reiterate: Black Dagger Brotherhood. I know this just sounds like I'm beating a dead horse, but the trade-off for its decent romances is a lot of snortworthiness.
Anyway. Here's the final installment of Smutty February for 2014!
LET'S GET IT ON with One Way Fare (Null City Book 1) by Barb Taub and Hannah Taub
Adding to the confusion over smuttiness quotient is... whatever's going on with this cover model. Does she have a migraine? Or is it a toothache? Both? She has eyelashes for days, though, which makes up for her piss-poor approximation of Kevin McCallister Face.
Can I Buy You a Drink?:
Spotting the romance tropes with the Three L's: 19 Lucilles, 18 Lizzes, and 3 Lorelais.
This book has also been brought to you by condoms and waggling eyebrows! Given all the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff in the book, the former made me seriously question everything I knew about the history of birth control* (which is to say, not that much).
*OMG 'ASSURANCE CAPS'. All I want for Christmas is someone to name-drop that in a historical romance, kthx.
What's Your Type?:
Holy shizz, so many things: time travel, angels, superpowers, enemistry, mysterious pasts, tragic backstory... there's a lot going on. Oh, and trains. But more like the Hogwarts Express and not in a train-going-through-tunnel sex metaphor sort of way.
22-year-old genius Gaby Parker is an accountant who's had to look after her younger siblings after the muuuurder of their parents. Luic leMuir is a 27-year-old rock star, although it's worth noting that Gaby and Luic are in 1972, so Luic wears things like tie-dyed vests over no shirt.
Meanwhile in 2012, Leila Rice is 18 years old, and her memory is a steel trap regarding Buffy storylines. Thomas Chapel's a year older, and he's helping his grandfather out with a favour involving Leila. (Not that kind of favour! Gramps ain't no pimp.) I'm not quite sure if either of them have jobs to begin with; they could have just been roving vagabonds (but definitely not). But her business acumen and his culinary skillz come in handy later on in the story.
And just like Transformers -- these four? More than meets the eye!
Gaby has been hired by Luic -- to crunch those numbers, if you know what I mean. (No, seriously; tax season is upon us, y'all. File those returns!) They immediately get off on the wrong foot because that's a great way to build sexual tension. And also because Luic operates on rock star hours and Gaby gets defensive about her youth undermining her credentials.
Leila travels to a tiny French village to collect an inheritance from her birth mother -- including a freaking chateau! Helping to facilitate this exchange is Thomas... and that's not the only exchange he'll be facilitating, mmm hmm. (It's an exchange of information, since he fills her in on some of her family history. Why, what did you think I meant?)
But how Gaby and Luic in 1972, and Leila and Thomas in 2012 cross each others' paths is another matter that's way too spoiler-y and difficult to sum up in the rest of this sentence. So I won't.
After a healthy amount of bickering, both couples realize their passions for each other (er, their own each others, not some orgy-tastic arrangement), only to be foiled by lack of condoms. (Where are those assurance caps when you need 'em, amirite?) The sex does happen, although the chemistry is more nice than smokin' hot.
Are They Animals In the Sack?:
For the most part, you can crank up the Metallica with this book, i.e. the sex scenes fade to black.
But prior to things going dot dot dot, there's foreplay that earns this badge of honour:
Nipples, you guys. I mean nipples.
And just to be thorough, I did a Ctrl+F for the usual filthy word suspects (for science, obvs). Even though this book is clean (of those terms, I should clarify), I discovered a bonus one of these in a book excerpt included by the publisher:
Y'all, that book is called To Love a Highland Dragon, and it whips out the [rooster] talk within the first chapter. Smutty achievement unlocked!
Fading to black means reduced pillow talk, but the cheese still manages to make its way into the story.
She pressed a soft kiss to the pillow next to his face. "I trust you, Thomas."
In the moonlight, his eyes gleamed silver. "Then don't waste those kisses, Princess."
Gotta say, I agree with him. Girl, why are you macking on pillows anyway? Was it one of these pillows?
"Say it," he demanded. "My Name."
Did someone saaaay ...?!
You're welcome for getting that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
He groaned in frustration. "Gaby! I can't kiss you and get rid of all these clothes at the same time. Help me!"
Now, this is a concern I take v. seriously. Because not everyone can disrobe this quickly:
And OK, since we're here already, have another.
Ms. Perky's Prize for Purplest Prose:
Maybe (probably, definitely) I'm just projecting, but in additional to personal writing style, I'm guessing the fact that the authors are a mother-daughter duo helped keep the smuuuutty smut to a minimum.
Her careful, lauging lover was gone. In his place was a frantic giant who ignored the pop of buttons, dragged her dress off her, and ruthlessly threw off his own clothes in a desperate need to press his body against hers and know she was still alive for him.
While this may not have been the greatest offender, it does remind me of this (which says more about me than it):
Luic gets to know Gaby's younger siblings, which is how he must have turned her family nickname into a couples one. And word association tends to be pretty strong with me, so ewww don't make her think of her siblings during makeouts. Unless she's into that sort of thing, I guess.
There's also this character that I haven't mentioned yet, but his relationships to the other characters trip me up. With all the supernatural longevity in this mythology, this guy looks like he's in his thirties, but he's actually centuries old (which isn't even the weird part, since duh -- sexy vampires have desensitized me to that shizz). What took me a while to process is his love interest being a contemporary of one of his descendants. Omg, it's like that JT movie, in which everyone is young and beautiful. Wait, why am I complaining about this again?
Vampire Diaries Role Play:
Speaking of young and beautiful people...
Arielle Kebbel as Gaby
Lexi should really just be cast in everything. Except maybe in Stars Hollow.
Daniel Gillies as Luic
Well, I had said that I'd take any excuse to cast Elijah. And if anyone can pull off a tie-dyed vest sans shirt, it'd be this man.
Grace Phipps and Zach Roerig as Leila and Thomas
Don't mind the terrified and stoic/mildly constipated expressions; casting for young* brunettes and blond dudes from TVD is actually fairly difficult.
*I don't mean the rest of the cast is old, but they were basically all CW teens (aka early 20's) even back when the show premiered.
Was It Good For You, Too?:
I had a pleasant blind date with this book, if way less smutty than I had been anticipating. There's plenty of world building to keep track of, as well how everything fits together in time. Even though this book is more plot-heavy, I prefer my smutty books to have plot with sex anyway, rather than sex with plot, y'know? While I'm not jonesing to go out with this series again, I won't avoid making eye contact if I run into it, either.
FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from the author. I received neither money nor froyo for writing this review (dammit!). One Way Fare is available now.