Friday, February 17, 2012

Raw Heat by Charlotte Stein

TITLE: Raw Heat
AUTHOR: Charlotte Stein
PUBLISHER: Ellora’s Cave
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 21k)
GENRE: Paranormal erotic romance
COST: $4.45

In a world where the werewolves have won and the humans have been driven underground, Serena Kent is a nurse assigned to watch over one of their captive wolves. She’s been enamored with his size and calm nature ever since he was brought in, but consorting with them is grounds for the incinerator. It doesn’t help that he becomes her friend, but when she makes the bold move to touch him when he’s obviously aroused one day, everything changes…

This is going to go down as one of my guilty pleasure books. Because it’s a quickie, erotic read that might not deconstruct well upon finishing, but damn, did it have me going as I was reading it.

There is no foreplay. The very beginning of the book thrusts the reader into Serena’s perspective as she realizes the werewolf she’s been tending to for the past year is aroused as she’s washing him down. She’s been fighting her own attraction to him, and in the heat of the moment, helps him get off. It changes the dynamic between them, breaking down a wall that had been there. Connor is unlike most of the other werewolves the humans have captured, surviving longer, never going feral. He’s also in love with Serena, but the last thing he wants is to hurt her. She’s having none of that, though. Now that the barriers between them are down, she wants everything she can get.

I got sucked into this almost from the start. The prose has a sultry, breathless quality to it, and the heroine’s perspective is tense and hungry right out of the gate. Since she’s also obviously someone a reader can sympathize with – a nurse who doesn’t necessarily see all the bad in the werewolves, unlike her best friend Tara who takes glee in torturing them – I abandoned reservations and threw myself into the moment with her, anticipating my questions about the world they inhabit and the characters they are to be answered afterward.

Those didn’t really come. Connor is an archetype, the strong yet honorable savage trapped in circumstances beyond his control, while Serena never really fleshes out beyond her feelings for Connor and her disdain for what is going on among her co-workers. The world is left somewhat unexplored as well. I learned the basics of what is going on – wolves above ground, humans below – with a few details thrown in for good measure, but I never really felt immersed into the setting to feel like I was completely there.

But here’s the thing. Mostly, I didn’t care. Connor’s a type, sure, but, well, that one tends to be one of my bulletproof kinks. I adored him, regardless of the fact that I don’t think I ever really knew him, and when things go dark in the latter third of the story, I cheered him on. The prose and story length go a long way in compensating for these other shortcomings, as well. I wonder if it had been longer, with the same relative lack of explanations, if I would have been less enamored with it. I honestly don’t know.

In the end, it doesn’t matter. This worked to entrance me for its short duration, and I cheered at the ending. I can’t really ask for more.


8/10 – Sultry and breathless


8/10 – Do I think he’s that realistic? No. Did I fall for his strong but silent & honorable type anyway? Oh yeah.


6/10 – Wanted more depth to her since it was her POV, but she served her function well

Entertainment value

8/10 – In spite of its simplicity, I got sucked into the sensuality, forbidden nature of this novella

World building

7/10 – Fascinating details, but a lot gets unexplored in favor of the erotica



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