Wednesday, October 21, 2009

His Black Pearl by Colette Howard

TITLE: His Black Pearl
AUTHOR: Colette Howard
PUBLISHER: Changeling Press
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 17k)
GENRE: Paranormal erotic romance
COST: $3.99

Hallie Brandt has just been offered the commission that could change her career. The only drawback is the fact her new patron, the sexy Aaron, insists the nude she paints is herself…

The erotic promise in this short novella drew me in, especially since the hero seemed unrepentant in his pursuit, and the heroine reasonably intelligent. I even stuck with it when it felt a little manipulative and easy, because there was a romanticism to the sexuality that appealed to me. I liked both the leads, too, even if I didn’t feel like I knew them very well. But even in a story of this length, it just didn’t last.

Hallie is an artist, trying to break through a certain distance in her painting. Aaron is keen to point it out, but it’s clearly a means to get her into bed. The attraction between them, even at the start, sizzles, though the overt comparisons between Hallie and the black pearl Aaron wants as part of the painting are heavy-handed to the point of being unnecessary. I didn’t need to be reminded constantly. I just wanted to see them get on with their romance.

And they do. Multiple times. Once their relationship is consummated, however, it loses some of its edge that I liked in the beginning, a weakness that only grows worse as the ending approaches. There are hints scattered throughout the book of Aaron’s true nature, but the follow-through on the conclusion is ambiguous at best. I’m never completely sure what is going on, or why, and I’m left with even more questions than I would’ve had if it hadn’t gone in that direction at all. It drags the story into erotic romance, when it was working far better as erotica. I would’ve preferred a more clear-cut resolution. As such, it becomes an intriguing idea with a mildly satisfying execution, rather than anything really memorable.


7/10 – An easy eroticism that hooks the reader in, only the ambiguity of the ending lets it down


6/10 – Enigmatic on purpose, though his persistence is definitely sexy


7/10 – I had problems with her stiffness in the beginning, and completely didn’t buy the ending, but the eventual explanation of her attitude helped to compensate

Entertainment value

6/10 – I was really enjoying this as an erotic short until the ambiguous ending ended up raising more questions than answers, and left me unsatisfied

World building

7/10 – The beginning and everything with her art was very rich; it’s the rest of it that lets it down



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