This is our brand new segment in which our delightful buddy Harry, from Temple Library Reviews will be joining us once a month to review paranormal romance from a guy’s perspective. But we will let him introduce himself, please let’s give a warm welcome to Harry!
Harry: I’m the newest honorary addition to the Book Smugglers team [honest to God, I smuggle books home and then lie straight to my family’s face about it]. I get the chance to play here at their blog once a month and my small spot will be called ‘A Dude Reads PNR’. The idea came to be in December, when I posted my Sherilyn Kenyon review and people were interested to see the male POV about Paranormal Romance. The public demands, the attention whore (that’s me) begs, and the smugglers comply.
Author: Gena Showalter
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: October 2009
HC: 170 pages
Stand Alone or series: Stand alone, but a small part of an on-going story. The other story in the collection, Untouchable by Kresley Cole, has been reviewed by Ana here.
Aleaha Love can be anyone — literally. With only skin-to-skin contact, she can change her appearance, assume any identity. Her newest identity switch has made her an AIR (alien investigation and removal) agent and sends her on a mission to capture a group of otherworldly warriors. Only she becomes the captured. Breean, a golden-skinned commander known for his iron will who is at once dangerous and soul-shatteringly seductive, threatens her new life. Because for the first time, Aleaha only wants to be herself….
How did I get the book: Vortex during winter solstice. It’s the time, when bookstores align with the universe and expel the unneeded books from their warehouses. I bet you had no idea, did you?
When I received the opportunity to include a novel from my unread stash, I didn’t think as to which author to pick. Gena Showalter possesses an innate ability to balance action with romance, so that the reader is comfortable with both elements. What could possibly go wrong? Showalter has danger and sex. It seemed as a wise choice at the time. But surprise, surprise. Her 170 pages long Tempt Me Eternally left me so utterly bored and disgruntled that I considered sleep as a more productive alternative.
Yes, I am in the beheading move, so let’s proceed with the positive elements so that I can focus on what drove me to the brink of sanity as a reader. First, the whole story in this is a huge shoutout to Alien Huntress fans. They will feel in their waters knowing more than the regular reader. There are recurring characters and the plot is based on the central conflict of the series: arrival of an alien queen, who brings cannibalism as a STD. Gena Showalter ‘s prose is solid, while her sex scenes are ever so inventive.
But “Tempt Me Eternally” is 90% sex or deals with thoughts or actions related to sex. It reads like a porn script, which can easily sell on the hentai market [I am referring to the bath tub scene, where Breean possesses Aleaha and gets her to masturbate for him, while he is inside her body]. I don’t mind the kink. I also am not against the sex, but what I am against is malnourishing the story to the point, where suspension of disbelief vanishes and the reader questions whether the book is going anywhere.
Gena Showalter allowed that to happen [as opposed to her earlier work] and decided to use Aleaha and Breean’s back stories in order to justify the instant sexual magnetism. Yes, Breean has not slept with a woman for more than two years and yes, Aleaha is starved, because she lacks the control over her shapeshifting, which makes sex dangerous for her. And yes, I’m aware that Breean emits heavy duty pheromones, but as far as priorities go sex goes dead last, when survival is at hand. Both characters need to survive.
Breean has set up a home on Earth, so until his new home is secured, this mission should come first, while Aleaha needs (1) to free herself as she is a captive and (2) preserve the truth about herself. You would think that both individuals would fight each other, until one dies, so that they achieve that goal. No, that would be wrong. What is most natural to happen is that both start dry humping from the get-go. Aliens invade Earth. You are the last standing member of resistance and the aliens desperately desire to be on your planet. I am more or less dumbfounded as to how both characters could not stand in character, especially when the author stresses how they should be focusing on their missions.
Yes, Gena Showalter is clever enough to add the pheromones as a catalyst to overpower all rational behavior. It’s part of the worldbuilding. But after that Aleaha does not really think about her duty, responsibility or the teammates, who are locked in a dungeon. She doesn’t act to free herself and the agents. Yes, Aleaha is said to do so, but I didn’t believe her. It just didn’t sound any bit convincing. When the big scene came, when she almost kills Breean in order to free her team, I was far from being emotionally involved. Because, (1) I’m far from convinced warring enemies could fall in love in the course of a week [imagine, you being held hostage and falling in love with your captor during war. Hey, the world is a funny place after all] and (2) it’s not really love, but Stockholm Syndrome.
I decided to consider it Stockholm Syndrome and attribute the mushiness to Aleaha being unstable. Fast-forward, the escape is far from a raging success and it’s time for Breean to punish Aleaha for her initiative to finally do something other than orgasm. What happens is more sex… At which point I am face-palming a lot. The ending lacks a climax that is jaw dropping, twisty or exciting. Instead, everything turns out okay. Everybody has forgiven everybody else. You can practically feel how AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER will write itself in pink.
Verdict: I wanted to be civil. But I couldn’t be. This was intolerable. Gena Showalter can do better as she is gifted and had the right material and elements to make this a spicy and adrenaline-filled read. But she wanted to do her thing in just 170 pages, which is simply not enough to work.
Rating: 4 Bad, but not without some merit
Reading next: Harry will be back in August with a review of THE BLOODGATE GUARDIAN by Joely Sue Burkhart
You can read all of Harry’s reviews here.