Friday, March 12, 2010

All Chained Up by Brynn Paulin

TITLE: All Chained Up
AUTHOR: Brynn Paulin
PUBLISHER: Ellora’s Cave
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 28k)
GENRE: BDSM erotic romantic suspense
COST: $4.45

Keera has been on the run from her psychotic stepbrother for years. When he finds her – again – and threatens her lover of five hours, she decides to make another run for it. The problem is, her new lover is also her Master. And her boss. And Theo isn’t willing to just let her disappear without an explanation, and better, a punishment…

Going into backlist when I discover an author I enjoyed is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, if it’s an older story, it might not exhibit the same skill I admired in the current work. On the other, I could find more gems. E-publishing offers an entirely different set of mines to try and work around, since a lot of romance authors publish with more than one house. Anybody who reads more than a few titles knows right away different publishers have different reader bases and expectations, and that sometimes, authors hop from style to style, genre to genre, because of this freedom.

I loathed the first story I read by this author. The second turned out to be my favorite in an anthology, one I loved so much I decided to write off the first story as a fluke and went looking through her backlist. After reading a novella earlier this week by an author I’d previously read, I decided to pick this one up, and have come to a conclusion. I don’t care for Paulin’s sex-focused stories, which will mean anything from EC in the future.

The biggest problem in this novella – fast-paced as it is – is the lack of context. The book opens with these lines:

“How are you feeling about this?”

Keera Thornton snuggled into the arms of her lover of five hours and looked up into his gray eyes, captured by her devotion to him. Theo Cress. He owned every part of her and didn’t even know it.

The reader is thrust into a relationship that has already been consummated, with absolutely no build-up on who they might be or what they might be to each other. We are flying blind in these opening pages, with Keera already wearing Theo’s collar and Theo telling her it’s “wedding ring serious.” They have one more quickie (and I do mean quickie, 350 words from Keera offering herself to orgasms), Theo goes off to run a bath, Keera gets a threatening phone call, and then she’s gone. Just over 1400 words. I have no investment in the characters, no reason to be afraid except the author tells me to, no knowledge of what makes Theo special or why Keera is worth being collared.

I kept waiting for it to come. And waited. While I got a little more background, they were just facts, and not very satisfactory ones at that. The impact of the suspense was completely disintegrated because of the lack of emotional involvement I had with any of the characters. It felt too much like a reason for Theo to chase her down, to give him a reason for punishing her, and to isolate them so they could have even more sex. It never got better. At all. I should have clued in, since it was an Ellora’s Cave release, but the excerpt on the site was all about the suspense. That’s misleading to say the least. The characters were cardboard, the suspense a waste of time. However, I did learn what type of story to steer clear of in the future. Because Paulin proved she can write a compelling, rich romance with “In the Dark.” I know I can absolutely love her work. Just not this type.


7/10 – Incredibly fast-paced but that’s because it foregoes anything like character development or build-up to get to the sex


4/10 – I might have liked him more if I actually knew him as anything other than Dom


3/10 – Idiotic and unbelievable

Entertainment value

3/10 – Sheer wish fulfillment with no lead-in to make any of the characters actually individuals

World building

5/10 – All the attention is paid to the BDSM…which is probably my own fault since this is EC we’re talking about here



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