The Beach Alibi
by Alison Kent, contemporary (2005)
Brava, $7.99, ISBN 0-7582-0674-7
Unlike the previous books of the The Files Of SG-5 series by this author, The Beach Alibi doesn't even try to have a plot, unless "Dear Penthouse, I am a beautiful hot woman who was stopping by at the office at 6:30 pm after a trip to the gym when my phone rang, so I walked into the office wearing only my tight cycling shorts, sports bra, and white shirt that revealed more that it concealed... and you can imagine how wet I became when there was a handsome hunk whom I'd always wanted there telling me that he wanted me to pretend to be his lover and engage in sex acts before the camera, all in the name of justice and democracy... how can I refuse, Dear Penthouse?" is what we can call a plot.
Even Alison Kent knows it. She has the hero, Kelly John Beach (one of those heroes who keep getting referred by his full name in the book), calling the plan a "scrape of the barrel" idea. But what can Kelly John Beach do? His recent sneak-in to an enemy hangout was taped and now, the entire secret agent gang the Smithson Agency decide that they have no choice but to replace the tape with another about Kelly shagging a woman. Since the bad guys are already sending an assassin to whack Kelly's ass, I don't know what good this will do except to give Kelly some bye-bye whoopies before his ass gets kicked to hell. But with roughly two-thirds of this 116-paged book filled with some sexual act or another between Kelly and our heroine Emma Webster, I don't think logic is high on the list of priorities when it comes to The Beach Alibi.
The sex scenes aren't bad at all. They are quite... interesting, in fact. I love how Emma has no prudishness when it comes to her new career as a vidcam amateur porn star, happily having sex with Kelly even when they both know that it will be captured on film. There's also a memorable scene which I've never come across in any of the so-called erotic romances I've read - Emma gets so excited by her heavy petting with Kelly that she causes a very wet patch on Kelly's pants. If you are recoiling at all this happy groin-bumpings going on, needless to say you shouldn't even be picking up this book in the first place. In a genre where the hero can do anything and get away with it, Kelly won't be too much of a surprise but Emma's happy idolization of Mata Hari can raise a few eyebrows among more conservative readers.
Characterization is zero, romance is... well, forget romance, it's all about lust, really. While it can be disappointing to encounter such a weakly-developed story that is nothing more than an inane excuse to introduce plenty of sex scenes, seeing how The Shaughnessey Accord proved that a good story could be told under the short length of Ms Kent's mini-books, I'm more than happy to go along with Ms Kent's frivolous but quite enjoyable little sexscapade. I am disappointed more by the fact that the author doesn't go all the way when it comes to kink. Why stop at exhibitionist sex? Let's introduce handcuffs, whips, cream, a double-headed vibrator, and even a vacuum cleaner while we're at it! Emma and Kelly are so happy having the time of their life, it seems a shame that Ms Kent cuts short their orgasmic celebration of each other with a throwaway kidnap plot that lasted ten or so pages and solved most anticlimatically. There could have been plenty of autoerotic asphyxiation that could have taken place in those ten pages.
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