The topic of this month is Sugar or Spice (closed door romance or spicy romance)
|Hot Tree Publishing|
Genre: contemporary M/M
My Rating: 3 stars
Part of a series: The Sin Bin #2
‘Closed door romance’ reminds me of those novels that are announced as ‘clean and wholesome’ and I didn’t think I had one of those in my TBR pile. So I tried to find something a little bit spicy or openly erotica. Later on, I realized that I had a couple of Georgette Heyer’s in my TBR pile so I could have read something ‘kisses only’, but it was too late, as I was already prone to read something a little bit hot.
First, I thought about a Cara McKenna’s novel that I have in my kindle. But it was the second part of a story and I haven’t bought the first one yet, so it would be a little bit silly reading the books out of order.
Then I remembered this male/male romance that I bought because one of the heroes was a retired rugby player. It was shelved by 5 users in Goodreads as Erotica / Bdsm, so I guessed it could also be considered ‘spicy’.
Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the characters, but it is not a first person narrative.
The rugby player that made me buy this book was Taine Afoa, half Maori and half Scot, that was raised by a Catholic priest in Scotland. He was a rugby star, but now he is retired. It looks like the Sin Bin series, revolves around a bunch of retired players, and he is the one in this story.
One of the things he does is visiting sick children in hospitals, among other charities. In one of those visits he meets Nurse Freddie Whittle, a young man who has lost the majority of his family to cancer.
They meet, then they share a holiday week together, and find out that they like each other. But there are some little problems in their lives. For instance, Freddie was raised by two men that are quite protective, and they don’t like his kid (26-years old) to have a partner who is so old (in his forties).
So you’ve got that age gap between them that is also something that worries Taine.
Apart from that, Freddie’s sexual experience is not very broad. He considers himself a virgin although I wouldn’t see it like that because penetrative sex is not the only kind of sex that exists. Taine is not only a man with a lot of sexual experiences, but he also has certain kinky preferences, basically spanking and a little bit of bondage, nothing really hurtful. I think that this sexual part is what has made some people put this book into the ‘erotica’ shelf, although I’m not sure it would qualify as one.
For a great part of the story, this book is just about two people meeting each other, finding that they want to know that other person better and, perhaps, have sex and a relationship, somewhere, in the future. Their lives are not easy. This is quite a realistic novel, with some very hard truths about life. Children suffering cancer is not sugar-coated here. I really liked that part.
Then there’s the very explicit sexual part that was great and hot BUT it didn’t quite blend with the rest of the book. Is that all the author wanted to tell, very hot steamy and kinky sex? Was all the personal stories and the setting just an excuse to have very arousing scenes?
I have recently written that erotica or erotic romance are the most difficult books to write, or at least is one of the most difficult for me to read and enjoy. The romance and the explicit sex has to be very well developed, and it has to blend together into a coherent story. I think that, for me, it doesn’t matter if sex is the basis of the conflict (which is what I tend to call erotica) or not (erotic or steamy romance) –in both cases the sex and the emotions have to blend in a coherent narrative.
I found, for instance, that Joey W. Hill or Lora Leigh, write great sex but very poor romance. Jackie Ashenden, Megan Hart or Cara McKenna, on the other hand, know how to make it work, great stories both in the sexual and the romantic department.
In THE CARETAKER the romance was good enough, the characters and their environment (the building of the world they live in) fantastic, but I had this feeling that the very steamy sex they enjoyed was not, as a matter of fact, coherent with these characters and their story.
I have been ranting for years for those improbable virgin heroines that have never had an erotic thought in their lives and suddenly here comes the hero with his magic wand and they enjoy fantastic sex, oral sex, anal sex, kinky sex, whatever, just like that, easily, in very few pages. I found it so very unrealistic! That’s the same feeling I had here. Freddie is like one of those little girls that do zero to 60 in under four seconds.
On the whole, did I like Dahlia Donovan writing? Yes, but I liked more the idea of the book (the characters, the setting, the basic conflict) that the actual development of it. The romance was cosy and realistic, the sexy scenes were very steamy but it was as if they belonged to different books.
So I guess I will keep on reading Dahlia Donovan, but she’s not going to be an auto-buy for me. I think I’ll give a try to other books that come recommended. By good reviews.