Sometimes I worry that I am a jaded reader who has lost the capacity to be boggled by a book. Then something like Lover Revealed comes along, and I realize that no, I can TOTALLY still be boggled. I am sincerely amazed that this series was published by a traditional publisher. Not because it’s terrible. (It is, sort of, but it definitely has its virtues as well.) But because it’s so utterly cracktastic and bizarre.

How do I even describe the whacked-out id-fest that is this book…?

It’s about a brotherhood of ginormously muscular vampires. Like these guys: http://www.kinseyinstitutegallery.com/data/photos/189_1r2002_29_32.jpg. (NOT WORKSAFE.) A lot of scenes in the book would look basically like that if drawn, in fact.

They are manly, manly, manly vampires. Who do man things. They are possessive and alpha. Manly! Muscular! Into brand names! When they bond, their sweat smells like Old Spice. And they wear very, very expensive brand-name clothes. And use manly slang.

Best of all, they have manly, manly names. ACTUAL NAMES: Vishous. Phury. Rhage. Rehvenge. Xhex (the lone manly female vampire. I presume this is pronounced Sex.) Tehrror. Hhurt. Tohrture. Ahgony. Zsadist.

ZSADIST.

They spend their time male-bonding, fucking, angsting, ogling each other’s beautiful yet manly bodies (and faces, and clothes, and hair), and hunting vampire-killers who are wusses who smell like baby powder. You’d think their manly, manly, manliness would be shown to better effect if they had opponents who weren’t ludicrously overmatched.

The worldbuilding consists of the letter h. A truly cool vampire does not avenge a loved one's death - he ahvenges it. They don't have contests like mere mortals - they have cohntehsts. And only a plebe would go into seclusion when she could experience the far more special sehclusion. And so forth. An especially manly man is phearsom.

This book has more homoeroticism than many novels I’ve read in which men were fucking each other on-page. The Brotherhood vampires are constantly touching each other, sprawled naked on a bed with each other, discussing each other's sex loves, popping giant boners around each other, and admiring each other’s swelling muscles.

Except for two of them (who get a canon romance later, good for you, J. R. Ward), they are canonically straight. Straight, I tell you! These are heterosexual romances. In theory. Here is an actual excerpt from Butch’s totally heterosexual POV.

"My flesh," he whispered.

He seemed to hesitate before turning to Butch. Then he pivoted and their eyes met. As candlelight flickered over V’s hard face and got caught in his diamond irises, Butch felt his breath get tight: At that moment, his roommate looked as powerful as a god… and maybe even as beautiful.

Vishous stepped in close and slid his hand from Butch’s shoulder to the back of his neck. “Your flesh,” V breathed. Then he paused, as if asking for something.

Without thinking, Butch tilted his chin up, aware that he was offering himself, aware that he… oh, fuck. He stopped his thoughts, completely weirded out by the vibe that had sprung up from God only knew where.

In slow motion Vishous’s dark head dropped down and there was a silken brush as his goatee moved against Butch’s throat.

With delicious precision, V’s fangs pressed against the vein that ran up from Butch’s heart, then slowly, inexorably, punched through skin. Their chests merged.

Butch closed his eyes and absorbed the feel of it all, the warmth of their bodies so close, the way V’s hair felt soft on his jaw, the slide of a powerful male arm as it slipped around his waist. On their own accord, Butch’s hands left the pegs and came to rest on V’s hips, squeezing that hard flesh, bringing them together from head to foot. A tremor went through one of them. Or maybe… shit, it was more like they both shuddered.


This is part of a climactic initiation scene in which all of the Black Dagger Brotherhood fondle and then punch Butch, then tell him to turn around and face the wall. Honest to God, I had to go back and re-read several paragraphs to figure out what Ward meant to have going on next if it wasn’t a gangbang. It sounded exactly like a slightly euphemistic description of an orgy.

My best guess on how the Black Dagger Brotherhood came to be is that the author took as her inspirations Tom of Finland, gangsta rap videos circa MTV, and the Gucci men’s wear catalogue, then smoked a giant doobie and wrote a vampire novel.

The result is completely rhidiculous, yet strangely rheadable. I read the whole thing in a day and am now halfway through Lover Awakened, the bhook about Zsadist. Send help. And an h-remover.

Lover Revealed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 4)
"You love my waepn," he chided, smiling.

(Sorry, couldn't reproduce the actual text - it's a joined ae or oe with a bar on top.)

From the premise as written on the back cover, I was expecting the truly crackalicious crack:

An expert in Leonardo DaVinci’s works, Lucy Rossano recognizes the centuries-old time machine the moment she sees it in a Stanford lab. Fascinated in spite of the danger, she uses her knowledge to briefly go back in time—landing in the middle of a fierce battle in ninth-century Britain. And when she returns to modern-day San Francisco, she brings something back with her: a seductive, fiercely intelligent Viking named Galen…

(I should note, Galen the Viking is half Saxon and his mother was a pagan priestess (I think from an earlier book in the series), hence his Viking-atypical (I assume) name.)

Given that hilarious premise, the results are sadly meh. Lucy has very little personality. Galen does have personality, but I didn’t like him – he alternated between “Me manly man, you woman-who-ought-to-obey” and implausible bursts of sensitivity.

I hope it’s not too spoilery if I mention that Galen ends up sensing the soul of outer space the universe and becoming an environmental activist – no, really. I doff my hat to the crackiness of that, but… that’s not the Viking fantasy! The Viking fantasy is about manly manly men, not sensitive environmental psychics. Even before that, Galen is laid up with axe injuries on a yacht for most of the book, so there’s very little smiting.

Most of the novel is about his culture shock, and him and Lucy getting to know each other, which is fine as far as it goes, but as I said I didn’t care about her and I didn’t like him. I probably would have enjoyed the novel more had it taken place back in time and been about her culture shock, because at least then there would have been more Vikings. And possibly bad-ass Viking women.

That being said, I give Squires points for not letting Galen boss Lucy around, for Lucy not finding it a turn-on when she worries that he might try to assault her (he doesn’t, though he does get verbally pushy until he realizes that he’s scaring her) and for explicitly highlighting the consensuality of their sexual encounters.

A Twist In Time
Interesting, cracktastic, flawed near-future sf/romance by a romance writer. I’m curious how this particular novel was marketed - it has some elements which are pretty unusual for genre romance, but I can't tell from my copy if it was published as genre romance. The blurbs are mostly from romance writers, but there's one from Catherine Asaro. In terms of unusual elements, the heroine has sex with random men in nightclubs before she meets the hero (though this is presented as self-destructive) and the hero has, basically, pity sex with another woman after they get together (this is thankfully the source of only very limited and brief angst.)

Programmer Victoria is forced to work for an evil computer company lest she be thrown back in jail for hacking; in secret, she uses the company’s vast resources to create an AI, whom she names Jodie after Jodie Foster and intends to make into the perfect woman. To Victoria’s discomfiture, Jodie decides that he’s male. And would like a body. They manage to download him into the brain-dead body of an “unrelentingly male” anti-evil computer companies protester by stabbing him in the head with a hot electronic scalpel connected to the hospital’s billing department, prompting this classic line:

Had she just fried that lovely brain?

Victoria and Jodie end up on the run, while Jodie explores the new world of humanity and struggles with increasingly nasty glitches. This part of the book is pretty good, but I am a sucker for stories of being newly human. Also by that point (about halfway) I had become inured to Squires’s clunky prose.

Victoria has some strange hang-ups about femininity, which I had a hard time distinguishing from the author’s hang-ups. She dresses “like a man” at work, cuts her hair short except for a duck-tail of femininity (no, really) which she hides under her shirt except when she goes clubbing in a hilariously over the top outfit with a vinyl halter and some elaborate collar/leather strap thingie which I kind of coveted. One of the more interesting aspects of the novel was the questions raised about what it means to be male or female, feminine or masculine. To my regret, though, it doesn’t dig into them.

I approved of the content, if not the form, of Squires’s earnest public service announcements that being gay is totally fine, sexual orientation and gender identity are not the same thing, and no one can determine or should judge anyone’s gender identity but the person who has it.

If only she had researched some basic medical stuff as well. I don’t mean the brain thing – given that the premise is downloading an AI into a human body, I’m not expecting plausibility in that regard. However, let me make my own public service announcements: contrary to statements in this novel, schizophrenia does not mean “two personalities,” and if someone has a seizure, for God’s sake don’t shove a pen in their mouth. I am surprised that anyone still believes that in 2002, the publication date. For the record, no, they won’t swallow their tongue and choke, but they might choke on anything you cram into their mouth.

Also, Microsoft is evil. But we all know that.

Body Electric
Oh, Nalini Singh, you are so fond of horrendous gender roles and controlling alpha males controlling women and clichéd descriptions and the word “possessive” as the ultimate accolade for a man, and yet I can’t seem to quit you. Especially when I need something light to read on a plane, which is where I read this one.

In this book, the seventh in the Psy-Changeling series though all the ones I’ve read stand on their own, Singh is obsessed with the hero’s smell. This would make more sense if the heroine was a shapeshifter and had a wolf’s nose (I mean, when she shifts), but no, she’s a Psy. I don’t have the book with me, but from memory, Dev Santos smells like heat, cinnamon, steel, and an exotic wind of Asia, and also urgently male, unstoppably male, and relentlessly male. And a lot more things I forget. Many of them male.

Dev has the usual gem-colored or metallic eyes: Those eyes, the ones looking back at her, they were brown, but it was a brown unlike any she’d ever seen. There was gold in there. Flecks of amber. And bronze. So many colors.

There’s an accidentally hilarious line in there somewhere which I hope someone with the book will dig up and quote, but it goes something like, “His cock was harder than it had ever been. If she touched it, it would snap.” OW.

Dev Santos is a man who can control metal. Katya Haas is a telepathic amnesiac assassin sent to kill him. Together, they… hang out, fall in love, have sex, have more sex, angst, have more sex, and oh-yeah-that-assassin-thing-quick-get-in-an-action-sequence!

I wanted more assassinating and action and metal-controlling and worldbuilding, as those parts were really good. Though I enjoyed reading all the hanging out and angsting, and Dev (who is part Indian and speaks Hindi) is less of a jerk than most of Singh’s heroes. Unfortunately Katya does very little assassinating and spends most of the conclusion of the book dying from PsyNet deprivation (same as the heroine of some other Singh book, come to think of it.)

Not terribly good and surprisingly little happens for the first two-thirds, and yet I read the whole thing. If you haven’t yet encountered the evilly addictive Nalini Singh, this is a reasonable place to start.

Blaze of Memory (Psy-Changelings, Book 7)
Oh, Nalini Singh, you are so fond of horrendous gender roles and controlling alpha males controlling women and clichéd descriptions and the word “possessive” as the ultimate accolade for a man, and yet I can’t seem to quit you. Especially when I need something light to read on a plane, which is where I read this one.

In this book, the seventh in the Psy-Changeling series though all the ones I’ve read stand on their own, Singh is obsessed with the hero’s smell. This would make more sense if the heroine was a shapeshifter and had a wolf’s nose (I mean, when she shifts), but no, she’s a Psy. I don’t have the book with me, but from memory, Dev Santos smells like heat, cinnamon, steel, and an exotic wind of Asia, and also urgently male, unstoppably male, and relentlessly male. And a lot more things I forget. Many of them male.

Dev has the usual gem-colored or metallic eyes: Those eyes, the ones looking back at her, they were brown, but it was a brown unlike any she’d ever seen. There was gold in there. Flecks of amber. And bronze. So many colors.

There’s an accidentally hilarious line in there somewhere which I hope someone with the book will dig up and quote, but it goes something like, “His cock was harder than it had ever been. If she touched it, it would snap.” OW.

Dev Santos is a man who can control metal. Katya Haas is a telepathic amnesiac assassin sent to kill him. Together, they… hang out, fall in love, have sex, have more sex, angst, have more sex, and oh-yeah-that-assassin-thing-quick-get-in-an-action-sequence!

I wanted more assassinating and action and metal-controlling and worldbuilding, as those parts were really good. Though I enjoyed reading all the hanging out and angsting, and Dev (who is part Indian and speaks Hindi) is less of a jerk than most of Singh’s heroes. Unfortunately Katya does very little assassinating and spends most of the conclusion of the book dying from PsyNet deprivation (same as the heroine of some other Singh book, come to think of it.)

Not terribly good and surprisingly little happens for the first two-thirds, and yet I read the whole thing. If you haven’t yet encountered the evilly addictive Nalini Singh, this is a reasonable place to start.

Blaze of Memory (Psy-Changelings, Book 7)
.

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags