by Cathy Yardley, paranormal (2008)
Avon Red, $13.95, ISBN 978-0-06-137608-5
Ravish is subtitled The Awakening Of Sleeping Beauty, so there is no prize for guessing the nature of the story you will find between the covers. I deliberately chose this book to read in the first place because I assumed at first this is a contemporary romance. You see, I'm a bit overdosed on paranormal erotic romances at the moment, heh. However, this one turns out to be a paranormal erotic romance in the end, only this one has dreamscapes and Vodun magic instead of sex with hairy canine beasts.
Aurora "Rory" Jacquad - yes, really, her name is Aurora - was about to have sex for the first time in her life with the charming and handsome Oliver and really, she couldn't wait. She was in a beautiful beach cottage somewhere in the Caribbean with a hot guy so the atmosphere was perfect for a 21-year old young woman who was about to experience the wazoo of her life... until she fell into a coma shortly after Oliver's, er, grand entrance. Oops. Hey, don't laugh, this is a tragedy.
Cut to six years later. Rory's wealthy parents are sparing no expenses while looking for a cure for their daughter. Many theories had been raised in the past to explain Rory's coma, but her parents refuse to believe that Rory was doing drugs or taking part in rough sex that led to her current vegetable state. For neurologist Dr Jacob White, he doesn't care what led to her state as much as he can get her out of that state. Many experts have tried but failed in the past, so if he succeeds, his reputation among his peers would be cemented.
However, it isn't long before he realizes how unusual this case is. Aurora looks unusually healthy - rosy, even - for a woman who spent the last six years in coma. Even more bizarre, he begins having these dreams where he encounters Rory in various erotic situations. Hey, the sex scenes in this book have to come from somewhere, after all. He soon realizes that he and Rory are sharing the same dreams, because according to the nurse, Rory's brain shows signs of activity while Jacob is sleeping (and dreaming). Naturally, this means the good doctor has to sleep more and enjoy more dream shags in order to help Rory. The price one has to pay in the name of medicine, I tell you. Herodotus would surely approve. At any rate, Jacob soon begins to wonder what is real and what isn't, even as he realizes that there is a far greater threat on Rory's life than he could ever imagine.
One thing I can say about Ravish: once all the dream sex thing is out of the way and the author starts introducing some external conflicts, the story becomes much more interesting than I expected. The insertion of all that magic and what not is rather abrupt, but I have a pretty good time seeing all that drama that results unravel. I wish the author has introduced these elements earlier in the story. Other readers may beg to differ, but I find the sex scenes between Rory and Jacob pretty boring. They meet while they are dreaming and - wham - they have sex, just like that. Where's the build up?
As a romance, I find this one pretty unbelievable because Jacob and Rory don't really know each other even by the last page to have a sustainable long-term relationship. Let's face it, it's hard to be convincingly in love when one of them is in a coma and the other person is too busy having save-your-life sex with her for the most part of the story.
As a result of all this, Ravish strikes me as an oddly underdeveloped tale that tries to be both romance erotica and paranormal romance, but these various elements end up working against each other instead. If this one has been purely romantic erotica with nothing but hot sex all the way to the end, without the magic woo-woo stuff getting in the way, the romantic aspect may end up being better developed and the sex scenes may have taken place at a more leisurely pace instead of the current contrived and rushed manner. If the story doesn't have to try too hard to be an erotic romance, then all that space allocated to the sex scenes could have been used to flesh out the magic subplot better. By trying to do both, Ravish ends up being neither here nor there, just half of each and not very satisfying to boot.
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