Monday, January 16, 2012

From Afar by Ava March

TITLE: From Afar
AUTHOR: Ava March
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 73k)
GENRE: Gay historical paranormal erotic romance
COST: $3.50

For three years, Raphael has admired Aleric from afar, but one night, when Aleric gets attacked by thieves, Raphael finds himself at Aleric’s side. A bad injury has Aleric hovering on the brink of death. Incapable of imagining a world without Aleric in it, Raphael does the unthinkable. He turns him. Now he just has to hope Aleric doesn’t hate him for it, or that London’s vampire clan leader will allow either of them to survive his transgression…

I like good erotic scenes as much as the next gal, but if it’s trying to be sold as a romance, too, I need a little bit more than that. This novella is a perfect example of just not enough.

The eroticism begins almost immediately, with vampire Raphael perched in his favorite tree, watching the object of his lust and affection with a prostitute. He jerks off, then proceeds to follow Aleric home. When Aleric is jumped by thieves, Raphael intervenes to help. His aid comes too late, however, and Aleric is mortally wounded. Raphael reacts to the moment and proceeds to turn him.

To be honest, not a whole lot happens after that, except sex, a little bit of tension regarding the head of the London vampire clan, and then some more sex. So while the author’s prose affords satisfying tension within the erotic scenes, when it comes to anything else, well…there’s just not much there. Both male leads suffer from stunted characterization. They’re not unlikeable. They’re just very one-note. Raphael is consumed with his crush on Aleric, while Aleric spends too much time floundering from his vampire adolescence to have any real understanding of what he might be like. Without being able to connect to them emotionally, I can’t connect to the romance, no matter how sizzling their sex scenes might get.

As impressed as I was with the facility of slipping into the author’s human historical world, I was equally disappointed by the paranormal aspect. We get some answers about how the vampires work in her vision, but not many, and in a market where every author tends to pick and choose which mythos to use, that’s a detriment. It’s understandable why more aren’t forthcoming. Raphael is an outsider to the vampire world, and his one real source of information is a potentially deadly one to him. But choosing to gloss over real answers because of a protagonist’s lack of insight felt like a copout. It’s too easy, and left me ultimately dissatisfied.

Overall, this was an easy, hot read, but if you’re looking for any type of depth of real romance, you’re not likely to find it here.


8/10 – Smooth and easy, with just a hint of being too terse

Hero #1

6/10 – His loneliness is appealing, but so much of his characterization is zeroed in on his feelings for Aleric that he doesn’t really get to escape that for more

Hero #2

5/10 – Nice enough for the erotic sections, but not interesting enough to anchor the romance

Entertainment value

6/10 – Reading purely for the eroticism, it works, but the romance and the paranormal world-building are too shallow to rate this higher

World building

7/10 – The human world is painted well enough, but Raphael’s outsider status seems like an easy excuse to not bother answering valid questions about the vampire world



No comments: