Saturday, May 3, 2008

New Reviews


Untamed Heart by Alley Blue

Once again, I seem to have been drawn to a book whose first chapter is all about murder and mayhem, and I'm expected to actually like the guy doing the deed. Ally has managed, though, to set up her cold, calculating hired killer in a sympathetic light right from the get go, and it's hard not to at least feel sorry for him long enough to get to know him. Once inside Leon' head, it's hard not to like him as damaged as he is.
Damaged characters are definitely the flavour of the day here. Leon is almost normal compared to his love interest Grim. Abandoned, abused and alone in the world, he has no idea what a normal relationship is supposed to look like. He does know a chance to bring some companionship into his isolated life when he sees it, though, and fishes Leon out of the river after a bear attack, takes him back to his cabin and nurses him back to health.
The plot might not be grippingly original, but it never stops its forward momentum, throwing the two men into conflict after conflict with themselves, one another and the world, and finally bringing them back to confront their own demons again. Even with the linear progression of events I found enough strength of character in just two characters (There are no secondary characters to speak of) to keep me happy and interested right to the end.
There was plenty of sex too, which can often backfire, but in this case was dealt with beautifully. It is disturbing to think that a person can define his relationship to the world and everyone in it through his ability to please them sexually, but I did say Grim was damaged in the extreme. Ally handles the tricky, sticky mess that could become with care, and the sex scenes manage to be about more than the physical act while still conveying a perfect amount of heat. Almost, sex is another language, and one Grim knows fluently, in fact, one he prefers to communicate through, and I think it's interesting how the author used those scenes to track the character's growth and the growth of the relationship. I'm not for a second commenting on the practicality of the real-life applications of this kind of sex therapy, but this is fiction and as such, the attempt succeeded brilliantly.
As always, my main criteria for what constitutes 'good' fiction is less technical than some people's and more about my own emotional satisfaction. Yes, that's right, it's all about me, my reading time, and how I want to spend it. Once again, Ally has made me very happy to waste a few hours of my time with her people and her world.

High Risk by Rick Reed

Beth Walsh, is an upscale housewife with a secret, potentially deadly double life in High Risk. Beth, the perfect attorney’s wife by all appearances is living one big lie. As soon as her husband Mark goes to work, her secret addictions to sex and shopping kick in. Beth likes her clothes expensive, her sex tawdry and her personal stress level at maximum speed. It’s a sick ritual that turns into a nightmare when she hits on gorgeous sociopath, Abbott Lowery in a discount store. Determined to punish Beth for her sin of adultery, Abbott turns Beth’s world upside down in a mounting campaign of terror that threatens her sanity, her marriage and her life.

High Risk is a high-octane thriller that asks the question: What if you picked up the wrong guy? A cautionary tale with surprising twists and turns, it is a page turner despite an unlikable heroine in Beth and increasingly sadistic, tortured psycho in Abbott. Rick R. Reed knows something about addiction, which actually makes Beth a sympathetic character in spite of her extreme behavior. Abbott is also intriguing and original enough to stand out from the typical literary bunny-boiler. Reed’s intense pace, crisp dialogue and bare-boned yet atmospheric language make this a must read. You’ll want to sleep with the lights on and toss out your Phillip Glass CDs after reading this book.

Rated Five Divas by A.J Llewellyn. A compelling read!

To read more reviews like these got to the Dark Diva's website.