The Pleasure Trap (Bantam) by Elizabeth Thornton is up first. Ash Denison is reluctant to attend a writer's symposium with his cousin, but as it appears someone in this writers' group knows secrets about people he or she shouldn't, it can't hurt. Eve Dearing writes gothic novels under the name Mrs. Barrymore, and she's doing quite well at it. But it appears that someone is after a writer she knows, and the very attractive Ash isn't going to let any of the other ladies be hurt during their stay, and moves from his hotel into the house where the lady writers are visiting. The biggest problem between them is that Ash doesn't believe in the extrasensory talent that Eve claims to possess. And Eve won't be with any man who doesn't believe, having watched what it did to her parents' marriage. Eve and Ash have an interesting chemistry, but nothing explosive. Eve is also quite naive, rushing headlong into things that perhaps she ought to think through, especially knowing that danger is close by, something that bothered me a fair bit during the reading of this one. You'll know well before the reveal who the villain is, though perhaps not his or her current identity. This one is a pleasant enough way to spend an afternoon, but it's not a keeper. It's earned only three of Cupid's five arrows.
Unmasqued (Signet Eclipse) by Colette Gale is next. This one purports to be 'An Erotic Novel of the Phantom of the Opera'. Christine has never met the Phantom face to face, but he's been tutoring her with her singing, and when she finally makes a triumphant stage debut, she gets her wish, only she still can't quite see him. Nevertheless, she and Erik have one hot time together. Then Raoul and his slimy brother Phillippe decide they want Christine, too, and Christine can't say no, at least to Raoul, which makes Erik angry enough not to see her again. I was hoping for something different with this one, but if you just want sex, sex, sex, you might like this one okay. I'd have preferred not to see all the other characters--the woman who manages the dancers, the former star, the new theatre owner--having sex as well, when there's really no storytelling purpose to it. Then again, I prefer my erotic romances to actually be romances, not just erotica, and I found myself skimming through much of the sex scenes in the later part of the book. This one was definitely not a keeper for me. As a romance, it fails. As straight erotica, well, there it probably succeeds quite well.
Until next time, happy reading!