Saturday, August 13, 2011

Afterlife by Natalie J. Damschroder

TITLE: Afterlife
AUTHOR: Natalie J. Damschroder
PUBLISHER: Amber Quill
LENGTH: Short story (roughly 14k)
GENRE: Paranormal erotica
COST: $4.00

A parachuting jump goes wrong, and Chloe finds herself in the afterlife, facing a choice. She’s been given the opportunity to spend eternity with her True Love. The only problem, she has three of them, and now she has to choose…

Adventurous Chloe goes parachuting, but when her chute malfunctions, she dies and finds herself in the afterlife. There, she’s told briefly how the afterlife works, and that she is fortunate enough to be part of those who have had a True Love. She gets to spend eternity with him now. The problem is, she’s had three of them – her high school bad boy sweetheart, the man she spent ten years of her life with in domestic comfort, and the one she flirted with but never followed through on. She has to choose and gets one day with each to help make up her mind. The days go as expected, meaning briefly getting reacquainted followed by sex. When she’s all done, however, she’s more confused than ever.

The possibility of how this might turn out lent a natural tension to the story as I read, but while that helps in making me rush through to the ending, it ended up distracting me sufficiently from enjoying the moment like Chloe was. Her three choices are very different. Brady was her high school sweetheart, the bad boy she left behind when she went to college, killed before she could return. Then there’s Eli, the man she lived with for ten years, until her miscarriage drove them apart. Finally, there’s Tristan, a man she flirted with when her relationship with Eli was on the decline but never actually slept with. Each offers something different to her, and did in the past as well when she had them in her life. She gets the chance to get a taste of each, but her constant uncertainty of what she’s going to do heightens the stress levels even when she’s supposedly at peace within the scenario. Because the question of what she’s ultimately going to choose hangs like the sword of Damocles over every aspect. By the time I got to the final chapter, I respected all three men and what they had meant for her, but had no clue how to go about committing to one. It’s all so very much wrapped up in who you are as a person and where you are in your life, the questions that are never answered for which you yearn for resolution. Everyone who reads this is likely to have a completely different take, simply because we’re all uniquely positioned when we pick up a story.

Though there’s a sex scene associated with each of the men, this is much more emotional erotica than sexual. That’s not to say it doesn’t get graphic because it does, but it works as well as it does because of the knotty feelings that are involved rather than heat of the moment. It does feel manipulative at times, but when you’re dealing with such complex feelings, that’s probably to be expected a little bit. Can I recommend this, then? I think it depends on what you’re looking for, to be honest. I didn’t check back with the publisher site before starting it and thought I was reading a romance. It’s not. It’s very much not. Some of the genre expectations I have from that ended up diminishing my overall reaction to the story. On the other hand, there’s some real feelings generated by it, and the characters are well-rounded and believable. It does have the use of a miscarriage to generate emotional conflict, so if this is a trigger issue, it might be worth skipping because of that, but otherwise, go into it with open eyes and you might be rewarded.


8/10 – Clean, unassuming, but much of the same tempts me to skim


7/10 – More about the emotions than the sex, which makes a nice change


8/10 – Surprisingly differentiated and believable

Entertainment value

7/10 – Expecting a different genre as I was reading altered my expectations enough to diminish my appreciation of the work as a whole

World building

6/10 – Within scenes, rather lovely; as a greater whole, I needed more answers



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