Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Passion of Madeline by Robin Gideon

TITLE: Passion of Madeline
AUTHOR: Robin Gideon
PUBLISHER: Total-e-bound
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 29k)
GENRE: Historical ménage erotic romance
COST: ₤2.49

When Cole Darden and his best friend Hawk set out to rescue a woman who has been taken by stagecoach robbers, they don’t expect the fierce attraction they feel for the voluptuous Madeline LaFontaine. Saving her from rape and murder is easy; not falling head over heels for her is not…

This novella suffers from “it’s all about the trailer” syndrome. You know what I mean. You see a trailer for a movie in the theater, and it sucks you in and makes you all excited about it, only to discover when you actually do go see the movie, the trailer showed you all the best bits, leaving you with nothing else to enjoy. In this story’s case, consider the excerpt as its trailer. It was a bright introduction to two sexy men, out to rescue a damsel in distress, complete with action, motivation, and a singular perspective. The novella turns out to be a lovefest for a heroine too flaky to make up her mind and too irregularly drawn to be relatable, with headhopping galore and prose that doesn’t know the definition of the word subtle.

The problems start out with primary characters that make me roll my eyes because they’re so over the top. Cole is supposedly a regular studmuffin in the Wild West:

…For some, Cole was an addictive narcotic that had to be experienced again and again and again. For others, he set a standard for performance that they realised could be matched by no other man. And since it was abundantly clear that Cole was not on the marriage market, they were resigned to having luscious memories of several hours of blissful delight in his arms, but nothing more permanent than that. Often, when these women made love with their husbands, they closed their eyes and fantasised of Cole. He’d been told as much often enough, usually murmured under the breath by a former lover at a cattleman’s ball while the husband smoked cigars and drank port with other rich men in a separate room.

Some of his ex-lovers felt guilty for fantasising about Cole while in the arms of their current husbands. Others accepted their fantasising about Cole as an after-effect for having experienced his sensual charms. None of his ex-lovers, however, regretted their time with him. None regretted sharing their passion with him. And their numbers were legend.

There’s more, like when Madeline spies his hard-on later, and the reader gets pounded into her head – over and over – just how massive it really is, but already, I’ve decided Cole is one of those men who loves women too much to ever settle down, an opinion that doesn’t change throughout the course of the story, even though I get told – not shown – that he’s changed. Hawk, thankfully, comes across as better than his best friend, but Madeline is another mishmash of types that drive me around the bend, flipflopping and inconsistent. It’s best seen in this particular line: He’s a heathen, a barbarian! I hate him! thought Madeline, but she really didn’t mean it as she swooned, her tongue playing with Cole’s.

The prose is riddled with over the top phrasing, too, like the hyphenates the author seems to prefer: passion-swollen labia, and lust-addled disorientation, and passion-lubricated lips, and perspiration-moistened body, and the list goes on. It pulls me out of the story and makes it seem very old-fashioned. Toss in the fact that this isn’t really a ménage until the end, and I’m left wondering why I bothered to finish it at all. Madeline sees both men throughout the story, though never at the same time and never tells the other about what she’s doing with his best friend. It makes her flaky and unlikable in my book, and with that many strikes already against it, this book is a barely finished for me.


6/10 – About as subtle as a sledgehammer


3/10 – Not a ménage in the true sense for most of the story, and thus never seems believable


4/10 – Two of the three characters really drag this down

Entertainment value

2/10 – Can’t enjoy the romance because the heroine is a flake, can’t enjoy the drama because it’s never given any chance to really build

World building

6/10 – Starts off promising, and the landscape detail is nice but none of the characters feel authentic



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