Friday, November 27, 2009

In Service by Mima

TITLE: In Service
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 72k)
GENRE: Sci-fi menage erotic romance
COST: $7.99

In the current war-torn climate, Malla wants only one thing – to serve the soldiers who are fighting, feeding them her sexual energy as only a few chosen can. Instead of the exploration team she’d imagined, though, she finds herself offered a spot with an Elite team, four men with incredible abilities placed in some of the most dangerous situations. One look at their histories and needs convinces her this is the assignment for her, but it quickly becomes obvious someone doesn’t want her reaching them. Meanwhile, the team needs her. Without her, they could very well die…

Some blurbs really don’t do their stories justice. Other times, they convey too much. In the case of this particular novel, the blurb actually manages both. It’s four dense paragraphs that ends up being repetitive, packed too densely with extraneous information, and ultimately, lost me when this book was first released. I only ended up picking this up because a number of people highly recommended it to me. Still, it’s languished on my TBR pile, because every time I went and looked at that blurb (which you can see on the product page linked above), my eyes glazed over and I passed.

It’s a shame. The book is actually pretty good, though I didn’t think it was as amazing as it was pitched to me. But it reminded me how important the blurb can be, and how so many authors probably aren’t doing themselves any favors with the ones they come up with.

Through sexual energy, Malla is capable of refueling the energies of Luo soldiers, people with extraordinary powers. In the case of her team, there is Shon, a berzerker, Grady, a mindwiper, Vel, a phazer, and Kor, a telepathic networker. Grady and Vel are lifemates, Kor is the energetic newbie, while Shon keeps himself at a distance since he fears that one day, his rage will kill somebody he cares about. Malla doesn’t like the distance he keeps, insisting she deserves to have all of him, but Shon refuses. The team is one of the best in the field, and through Malla’s care, finds themselves united in ways they never had been before.

There’s a lot of intriguing political machinations buried within the dense, intelligent prose, and while there’s tremendous promise of it all from the sharp, take-no-prisoners beginning, it’s never truly followed through on. I don't mean it's all sex. It's not. They do actually take action regarding the conspiracy. The problem is, once Malla meets the team, all of that takes a back seat to the erotica, which is only natural considering her function is to heal/refuel them through sex. I just wish there had been a better balance. The sex itself is fine – though the bedtalk feels stilted and phony, examples like this, Give me that hot tongue, Kor. I want it deep. As soon as you send me over, I’ll gush cum and feed you good, occur far too often – but it overwhelms the political plot in too many spots. There are sections where it drags on, or happens in too long sequence, to keep me focused on what exactly Malla and the guys are doing outside of their decisions how to orgasm. This isn’t always a problem, but the author has created a dense, complicated world, and it required more attention than what I got to truly enthrall me.

It’s interesting, because this is a story that has parts greater than its sum. Taking a look at the individual aspects of a story I examine while reviewing, each is higher than my overall enjoyment. The characters are strong and distinctive, even when they’re all entwined. Shon, especially, appealed to me, which probably explains more of my frustration with the amount of time Malla spent with Vel and Grady. He provided the only real romantic conflict within the story, and like the plot, suffered because of distractions elsewhere. I even bought and cared about the overall ménage, because I believed the emotions of all five parties. That’s a lot more than I can say about most ménages. They were loving and romantic, and honestly, deserved more than what they got.

It’s not helped that the last chapter jumps forward six months and a lot of the developments I would have wanted to witness because they’re emotionally crucial occur off the page. We get told about them after the fact. It added to the frustration I already had in regards to the non-sexual aspects of the plot, because it felt like further proof the author cared more about the various sexual positions than the world she created. It would be interesting to read a non-erotic romance from this author. I’d love to see the intelligent and vivid storytelling she has outside of the sex showcased in its best possible light. Perhaps next time.


8/10 – The dense, intelligent prose is best when not in sex talk


8/10 – I bought the emotions between all five of the principles, even if the sex portion was weighted too heavy for my tastes


8/10 – Vivid and distinctive, even considering all the naked body parts

Entertainment value

7/10 – The balance between sex and plot weighted too heavily on the sex side for this to be a real keeper for me

World building

9/10 – Some great details here, probably the strongest aspect of the book



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