Long-time readers will recall that when Kensington began their Brava line of erotic romances a few years back, I talked about that here, and that I was very excited by it. They started off with great authors--Thea Devine, Robin Schone, Bertrice Small--and slowly brought in newer authors to continue the line. Currently, however, there are a lot of books coming out under the imprint that fail to live up to the initial promise of great erotic romance--there are mysteries with a dash of sex; there's chick lit, with a dash of hot sex, etcetera. The line used to be an auto-buy on my shopping list, but I find I'm buying far less of them these days than when the line debuted. I've been disappointed too many times in the last year or so.
So I was very excited last summer when I read that Kensington was planning a new erotica line. Then later, I heard it referred to as erotic romance, and I figured maybe the idea was to go back to what Brava started out as--great erotic romance, period. And I've had a chance to read the first four (this month, January 2006, the line debuts with four new books, and then will publish two books each month going forward), with mixed emotions after I'd finished.
Three by Noelle Mack features Lady Fiona Gilberte, widowed and known to be sensually decadent. When she meets Lord Edward Delamar, things get really hot. This one almost reminds me of one of those old erotica novels like 'Man with a Maid' or 'My Secret Life'. There's plenty of sex, and it's not limited to just Fiona and Edward. I have to say, though, it left me a little cold in the romance department, a little disappointed. It left me longing for a good Thea Devine story, really.
Gotta Have It by Renee Alexis is next, with three separate, and unrelated stories: 'Reacquainted' has Caroline and Marc meeting again after years and making the most of their time together. 'Atten-tion!' has massage therapist Marliss treating men in uniform and falling for Commander David Carrington despite her best efforts not to. 'A Note to Mr. Fine' has Arlene searching for her big break and finding Aaron Ford instead. Again, plenty of hot sex, not to mention some really unbelievable dialogue (purple prose, anyone?), but the romance is lacking, at least in my view. There's nothing wrong with a good erotica book, but so far, I'm not seeing much in the way of erotic romance. I figure I'll keep reading.
Wolf Tales by Kate Douglas is a series of stories about a small group of shapeshifters. The first one with Xandi and Stefan was enough for me. Anyone not interested in animal sex can skip this one altogether. If you're into shapeshifters in all guises, partially human/partly animal at crucial moments, you'll feel differently than I did about this one.
The Hard Stuff has stories by Karin Tabke, Bonnie Edwards and Sunny. This one was more to my liking, though I did have a difficult time buying into some parts of these stories. But if you're looking for hot sex with some more believable characters and plots, this one may be right up your alley.
I'm going to reserve judgement on the new line for now, because I do have the two February books here on my desk and one of them looks as if it may be something I'll like very much. I suppose it all depends on the story, and on the reader. I know some of you will disagree with my views, and some of you will agree. As always, though, keep in mind, my views are just that.
Until next time, happy reading!