by Melissa Schroeder, contemporary (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 1-59998-322-2
I can't determine whether the dedication to whom I believe is or was Ms Schroeder's editor at Loose Id is good-natured or a middle finger. That dedication is actually the most interesting thing in A Little Harmless Sex. Provocative title aside, this story doesn't seem to have any cliché that it doesn't like. Unfortunately, the mechanical application of these clichés into the story result in a tale that is often too implausible or just plain ridiculous for its contemporary setting.
For example, the hero Maxwell Chandler has just been dumped by his fiancée and he realizes that he wanted to marry Cynthia because of business connections. The sex wasn't even good.
What had he been thinking when he proposed to her? It couldn’t have been because the sex was great. It was good, but someone who stressed out when she had to pick the color of her car couldn’t relax enough to have fun in bed. He came, but there was no real satisfaction in fucking the woman. She didn’t like wet, hot, messy sex. He’d had to invest in lubricant for the first time in his life. Why marry a woman who couldn’t get wet?
If he wants plenty of wetness, I strongly suggest that he stick it into a garden hose and turn on the water. I believe Max doesn't know as much as he'd like to believe about a woman's body.
Meanwhile, Anna Dewinter wonders why she ends up sleeping with men she isn't too fond of that tend to act all clingy on her, wanting her to commit when she's not ready to be in a relationship. She is shocked when Max, her best friend forever, tells her that Cynthia dumped him.
“She broke it off?” The woman obviously needed some professional help. Cynthia Myers had been lucky to get a man like Max.
But Max wants the Niagara Falls and unfortunately, not every woman can be that.
Anyway, the two newly-single-again buddies get together, get smashed, and get shagged. Ms Schroeder reassures me that Anna is clearly the woman for Max unlike that arid desert Cynthia:
Hot cream flooded her sex, wetting her for his entry.
Would you believe that I am eating a freshly-made chocolate-and-cinnamon bun when I come across that sentence? I look down at the cream oozing out from the bite mark on the bun and suddenly have no more appetite left.
“There’s no backing out now. There is no way you’re going to tell me you don’t want this. I could feel your wet heat through my pants. You want me, baby. Hell, I can smell your arousal.”
Again with the Niagara Falls thing. What is that all about? And judging from how much they have drunk, how certain is he that he's not just smelling the Tequila in her breath? I also try to picture what I will do if my husband gives me a line like, "I could feel your wet heat through my pants." Probably burst out laughing and ban him from reading my books ever again, most likely.
Before she had time to sort out all the conflicting emotions, he was on top of her, his cock hot and vibrating against her sex.
I don't know whether I want to even imagine a man sporting a vibrating woody. Where does he put those batteries? I hate myself for even wondering.
At any rate, I can go and on about the love scenes but I think I better stop here or I may actually end up putting some of you off sex for all time and I'll feel terrible if that happens. After the vibrating and wet magical night, Anna realizes that she should have been careful of what she wished for because Max is already carrying her into the bedroom like a bridegroom with his new - and wet - bride when the vibrations have barely died down. She and Max end up in the same old dance and song - it will be a fling, except that he doesn't want a fling as much as a permanent relationship while she's not sure about what she really wants. The conflicts feel very contrived because many of them are textbook misassumption and miscommunication issues treated mechanically here, as if the author is trying too hard to come up with something that resembles closely a typical Harlequin Blaze. Ms Schroeder seems to be aware of some of the most ridiculous aspects of the clichés she is putting into her story, but self-awareness alone isn't enough in this instance.
A Little Harmless Sex is too much of a standard friends-shagged-oopsie story with little deviation from the formula. It's therefore not the most interesting story around the place. The love scenes though are good for some unintentional comedy.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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