Friday, February 11, 2011

Solstice Heat by Leila Brown

TITLE: Solstice Heat
AUTHOR: Leila Brown
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 30k)
GENRE: Paranormal erotic romance
COST: $4.99

Once the alpha of his pack, Jason now lives on the periphery, trapped in his wheelchair, desperate for a mate. He thinks he’s found her in the woman he’s been talking to online, but appearances are not what they seem. Gio discovered the correspondence her little sister has been having with a stranger online and vowed to face this sexual predator, once and for all. At Jason’s house, however, his wolf sees her verbal attack as a threat and before either one knows it, he’s bitten her…

I often find myself at a loss with some of the crazes that sweep through published fiction, mostly because they don’t hit my kinks. A few I’ll read anyway if a story sounds good enough. Werewolf stories fall into that small category. I can take them or leave them, and honestly, nine times out of ten, I leave them. I don’t swoon at the idea of forever mates, or insta-mates, and most of my experiences with werewolf stories have been with authors who use these genre tropes as shortcuts to real storytelling or genuine character growth. This novella stood out with its promise of a handicapped hero—a kink I do have—and I bought it in hopes of getting a story about a man struggling to come to grips with the conflict between his disability and his alpha nature, with some hot sex along the way.

That’s not what I got.

It starts out that way. Jason wants to find a mate who doesn’t remember him from the way he was before, a woman who will want him for the man he is now, trapped in his chair. He’s been corresponding with a woman online for the past three months, and now, he’s finally had the nerve to ask her to come see him. His goal is to make her fall in love with him so he can take her to the pack’s solstice ceremony and turn her. The pack’s laws dictate that once a human knows about them, they have to be either turned or killed, so he wants to make it so that this woman wants to be turned. There’s a problem, though. The woman who arrives at his front door is not the one he’s been writing to. It’s her sister, who is pissed off and convinced he’s a sexual predator. Her verbal attack sparks him into an unexpected shift, and he bites her and forces her to submit before it’s too late to stop him.

That’s where the story changes. See, once a woman gets bitten, she goes into heat. She needs to have sex to ease it, or go mad as a result. And because Gio has been bitten by an alpha, that means even more sex and an even stronger reaction. So instead of a hot tale of a hurt man learning to love again, it’s basically a fuck-or-die story. Gio needs to have sex with Jason as soon as, and as often as, possible, or risk going out of control. Because she’s such a strong personality, she fights it. All good, right?

Up to this point, it wasn’t that bad. The prose is simplistic, and the characterizations lack any sort of nuance, but I still had hope. Then it got to this point. Now, I’m not a fan of the fuck-or-die scenario (yes, in this case, she doesn’t literally die, but the intent is pretty much the same since the circumstances if she doesn't are still dire with a capital D), but I will, and have, read some done well. It might be because the prose was just too hot to ignore, or I loved the characters, or there was a fascinating psychological approach taken to the scenario. This story had none of those. Then it got worse. I can tell you the exact moment this story lost me. My jaw dropped, and then I laughed out loud at how ridiculous it was. It’s inevitable Gio and Jason have sex, right? At the end, I read this: Then she felt it. His essence flowed into her, making the fire deep inside cool. That essence is his come because they can’t use a condom (Jason says so). And when she tries to get up… “No. If you stand up, my cum will leak out, and the heat will return…” His come literally turns the flame down (not quite douses, Gio realizes, but she feels normal again).

There is zero subtlety there. Zero nuance. This typifies the work in other areas, as well, from the shallowly written bad guys, to the not hot at all for me sex scenes. Gio redeems herself slightly when she faces off with Jason’s ex, but when her abrasive attitude isn’t directly warranted, she came across as unnecessarily angry and shrill. Jason fares slightly better, but even he lacks any kind of depth.

I don’t read enough werewolf stories to know if this is typical. It might be, for all I know. Fans of this type of shifter very well could have different reactions than I did. But from a non-rose-colored glasses perspective on the genre, this story fails to deliver a coherent romance, genuine emotion, or interesting world-building.


6/10 – Simplistic with a lot of redundancies


5/10 – Lacked any sort of nuance to make me fall for him


4/10 – I liked how she kicked ass when it was necessary, but when it wasn’t, she felt angry, abrasive, and obnoxious

Entertainment value

2/10 – It lost all credibility when his come literally puts the fire out inside her

World building

6/10 – Though some attempts are there to create an interesting world, it’s presented haphazardly and leaves a lot of important questions unanswered



No comments: