Monday, August 10, 2009

Saddled by Delilah Devlin

TITLE: Saddled
AUTHOR: Delilah Devlin
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 24k)
GENRE: Contemporary menage erotic romance
COST: $3.50

A bad winter storm drives distraught Kate Duvall off the road and into a creek. The two ranchers behind her pull over to rescue her. For Cale, the only way to get his best friend Bobby and this mysterious woman recovering from hypothermia is to get them back to the cabin he shares with Bobby and warm them up personally…

You know, when I buy stories like this, I’m fully aware I’m buying it for the hot factor and not for any real semblance of romance. Outside of erotica, ménages don’t really work all that great for me, mainly because it always feels like the author is taking easy roads out in trying to make it a romance. So I didn’t have high expectations when it came to this short novella, but two hot guys – one Native American, which I freely admit is a hotspot for me – and a locked cabin felt like some escapist fun.

It wasn’t. It was a chore. And it’s not even all the ménage’s fault, though that certainly didn’t help matters any. There is enough technical stuff that drove me crazy in this to give me a headache, even before I get to my issues with the story itself.

First of all, the author is a headhopper, obtrusively so. The prose jumps around enough without formal breaks to slow me down dramatically while I’m reading, and it didn’t do a thing to really make any of the characters more relatable. One thing it did do, though, was highlight another weak technical aspect – clumsy information dumps. For instance, in chapter three, Bobby ruminates on his and Cale’s past, for the reader’s edification since he’s alone at the time and doesn’t say any of this out loud. We learn all about how they hooked up then. However, less than two thousand words later at the top of chapter four, Kate proceeds to grill them about their lives, and we get to hear it all over again in dialogue. It’s repetitive, unnecessary, and slows down the story to a snail’s pace.

None of it is helped by characters that lack any real sort of personality or a romance that never works. Kate was stuck in a relationship because she liked the security of her fiance’s money primarily. Cale and Bobby are still struggling to make it on a year to year basis. I’m expected to believe an HEA – complete with heroes who admit out loud they’re trying to knock her up – based on one weekend of amazing sex? The only thing it had going for it is that she didn’t jump into the decision. She took time off. That wasn’t nearly enough, though.

I can’t even enjoy it for the sex parts. I have to admit to wincing at the double vaginal penetration scenes, and a lot of time it felt like badly staged porn, like when Kate doesn’t want to come too quickly and asks Cale to back off a little: Cale let go of her breast and shifted, coming up on his knees beside her and placing both hands over her breasts, continuing to massage her while he glanced back at Bobby. Without even the vicarious erotic thrill, that leaves very little at all to recommend this story.


6/10 – Duplicate information dumps and headhopping made this a real chore to slog through


3/10 – Even for just considering it as erotica, it just wasn’t sexy to me most of the time


3/10 – Flat and interchangeable

Entertainment value

2/10 – The romance didn’t work, the sex didn’t work, which doesn’t leave anything else to work

World building

6/10 – I liked the locked in the cabin feel, but the focus was elsewhere for this




Delilah Devlin said...

You might want to give Maya Banks's BRAZEN a try. I enjoyed it very much.

Book Utopia Mom said...

Thanks for the recommendation! :)