by Roxy Harte, contemporary (2008)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-59578-463-6
Oh boy, I don't know how to summarize the plot of Roxie Harte's Unholy Promises or whether I should even try, because reading it feels like I've found my way into the middle of an ongoing story in a series without having read the parts that lead up to it. However, I find myself very riveted by the first few chapters, drawn into them by the emotional intensity of the very damaged antiheroes narrating these chapters.
Let's see, we have Thomas Stephanopolis, although that name is just one of the many aliases he has used in his long checkered career as a mercenary secret agent type of fellow. He yearns for Eva, a high-ranking operative in the Special Operations Department of WODC, whatever that is. The thing is, Eva's choice of employer makes him her enemy, hence his decision to let her believe that he, her Dominant master, is dead. Thomas is quite a randy fellow here, however. His principal lovers include Celia Brentwood and Garrett Lawrence, with the two men sharing Dominant duties on "Kitten", as Celia is called.
The ongoing soap opera between these people form the bulk of the story. To be honest, Kitten and Garrett bore me. Kitten behaves like... well, let's just say that I suspect she will completely be unable to function without a Dom telling her what to do because she can be on the overwrought side here. My key interest lies in Thomas and especially Eva. Eva is a hard-hearted agent who will not hesitate to send her own underlings to their death if collateral damage is what it takes to attain some greater good, but she is slowly breaking apart under the strain. She and Thomas are damaged antiheroes with the each of them being one of the very few things in this world that can spark passion in the other person. I really like the story of these two people.
Unfortunately, way too much of this story is taken up by BDSM-style sex scenes. This is one of those stories where the focus of the story and what I'd prefer to be focused on are completely different. I don't care about Kitten's pregnancy woes or the musical chairs being played by the folks in this story, I want to read a La Femme Nikita-style love story between Thomas and Eva that comes complete with bullets and love-hate drama. I'm also quite prejudiced here in that BDSM scenes don't do anything for me, so the bulk of the story leaves me wishing for the author to get rid of the other characters and turn this into a story solely about Eva and Thomas. With Eva being the Dominatrix because, come on, Thomas deserves to know what it feels like to be at the receiving end of a high heel.
I should warn readers that the format of the story can be quite distracting. There is first person narration mixed with third person narration at various places, with flashbacks often introduced here and there in ways that disrupt the momentum of the main flow of the story. I suspect that some readers may find the story written in a style that is not to their liking.
At the end of the day, I am not the right audience for Unholy Promises. Still, the parts about Thomas and Eva really intrigue me and leave me yearning for more of them so Ms Harte can get me reeled into her story should she come up with something more to my liking one of these days. Chalk this one up as an interesting read, only it's not really my cup of tea.
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