Tuesday, November 11, 2008

One Bite With a Stranger, by Christine Warren-- Review

I’ve been a Christine Warren fan for quite some time now. I browsed past She’s No Faery Princess dozens of times, intrigued despite my non-urban-fantasy-reading-self (at the time). I think it was the title that finally did me in, along with my growing love affair with vampire novels (see also: JR Ward).

One Bite with a Stranger is a recent mass market release. According to Warren’s website: This book is an expanded version of the title originally released by Ellora’s Cave as Fantasy Fix. It contains new content and can be considered the First Novel of the Others.

I haven’t read the original e-book version, so I can’t comment on how much different it is or how much it may have changed. I can assure you that Warren’s roots in erotica show more in this book than her previous print releases, and those were not exactly lukewarm, IYWIMAITYD. Take note: the erotic scenes feature some loving BDSM kink – if that’s a big turnoff for you, you might want to take a pass on this one. If it is your thing, though… or if it’s not NOT your thing... um. It’s pretty good.* It’s also constitutes a fair bit of the page count, so, fair warning.

Dmitri is a really lovely alpha hero in this story. He has this nifty little gift of mind-reading, and when he happens to tap into Reggie’s fantasy life, he finds that it lines up with his own, and things just smoke along from there. The notion of a lover being able to read your mind certainly has some disadvantages, not the least of which would likely be a sense of violation. It also becomes an interesting way to treat the notion of consent. What if you actually do know for a fact she means YES when she's saying NO? Warren handles this nicely, IMO. Dmitri doesn't ever ignore what Reggie says when it's in conflict with what he knows about her inner desires; rather, he calls her on it and insists on her cooperation in something of an ultimate submission. The rest of the plot is adequate but unremarkable.

My only nitpick with the story is the motivating premise that kicks off the whole thing. Reggie has this group of girlfriends who came up with “the Fantasy Fix” (title of the e-book version). Each of them apparently shared a sexual fantasy or two and amazingly, no matter how outlandish (not so very), someone in the circle had a single hunky friend who was able to deliver said fantasy. Reggie, the most prudish of the group, was exempt from the fix-up because she was the only one in a long term relationship. At the beginning of the book, she has dumped the loser LTR and thus amid much protest becomes the subject of the next Fix.

Here’s where my eyes start rolling. I just don’t see blind dates and fix-ups working out that well when they specifically involve fantasy sex. I mean, I’ve BEEN on fix-ups. Add in that the fixer-upper has shared one of YOUR fantasies with the guy and ugh. AWKWARD. Or maybe "awkward" isn't the word-- maybe the more accurate term would be "LESS FUN THAN REPEATEDLY STABBING YOURSELF IN THE EYE WITH A SHRIMP FORK".

Then there’s Reggie’s reluctance. Her girlfriends all but force her into this. She wants no part of it, not even deep down secretly yadda yadda. Yet she still lets them dress her up in slutwear, take her to a bar, and goes along with the plan to go home with a guy of their choice and have kinky sex with him. I don’t buy it.

Really? This is where your suspension of disbelief fails?

Um, yeah. Who're you?

You can call me the voice of doubt. Or reason. Whichever. This is one of the vampire books, right?

Yeah, vampires and some were-guys. So?

Where the girl falls in love with the vampire? The centuries-old, mind-reading, blood-sucking dude with the pointy teeth?

Yes already. Your point?

So you believe in the mind-reading sexually dominant immortal vampire and his were-wolf buddies, but you don’t believe the main character would go for a kinky fix-up?

Right—that and the single available straight men in Manhattan. And one of them was a were-cat, not wolf. YOU CAN SHUT UP NOW.

Okay, okay, untwist already. I'm just saying.

*glare* Consider it said.

On a serious note, the scenes between the hero and heroine were far and away the star of the show. The chemistry in and out of bed between Dmitri and Reggie really sparkles, and carries the book. If you're not into the erotic side of it, it's probably not going to rate tops for you (errr, no pun intended) but I give it good marks just for the main characters. I thought the scenes among the girlfriends were more than a little flat by comparison and probably didn't help with the believability of their roles. I actually didn't like Ava much at all-- we'll just have to wait and see what kind of true colors she reveals in her own book, coming next April.

The reading order for Warren's Novels of the Others can be found here.
*By which I mean smoking hot.


Lady of the Review said...

I've read all but the first 2 (waiting for them to come out in print), but I have to say that I was actually pretty disappointed in this one. I felt the sex was super rushed and Reggie was a doormat, until the very end. And the fact that she accepts everything so easily just fell flat for me.

I'm interested in seeing where Ana's story takes her. I personally think she comes across as a spoiled brat with a major chip on her shoulder, but maybe that's just me.

As for the sex? Yes, it's super smokin' hot, especially The Demon You Know. That book always stands out in my head as a WOWZER book. LOL!

Betsy O'Donovan said...

That sounds, ah, pretty interesting.

And, you know, I'm all for erotica in general, but I find that there's a huge gap between great erotica and great romance writing. It seems as though it's either smokin' hot scenes strung together on a thin plot and some meh dialogue, or juicy good plotting with yawntastic sex scenes.

Hmm. Am I starting to sound like one of those chicks who reads romance novels for the sex scenes? I swear it's not true. They're just a happy bonus.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed a couple of really good authors start at Ellora’s Cave and go on to larger publishing companies.

Anonymous said...

I read the older version and from what I read on amazon I think she has changed quite a bit for the new one. But anyway, I totally agree with you on the fix up and those girlfriends. Great review!

As for BDB: This old language is just a fancy ruse - though I have no idea what for, LOL. Putting an h into the middle of the word doesn't make it look anything but stupid. I can't even bring myself to writing V'S real name on my blog :-).


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