by Anya Delvay, contemporary (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-59998-901-8
The Night-Blooming Cereus in this story is a cactus found usually in the deserts in the southern parts of the USA. If you want to impress party guests, you can always drop the scientific name for this cactus, Cereus greggii, in your conversations. The Cereus is noteworthy in that for one night every year, the white petals of its flower will open for the first and last time. The scent of the flower is said to be exquisite. In this story, the scent is also an aphrodisiac.
If I take away the Cereus, what is left is actually a pretty sizzling story about a curvy model who captures the eye of the artist. Melanie Fletcher is exactly the model and muse that artist Marcus Alejandro is looking for but he is going to have to make some effort to convince her that he is not like the selfish artists that she had known in her life. In other words, she can freely love him, if only he can make her see that.
I feel that the sex scenes are easily the best thing about this story. I know, I wish I can say that the story appeals to me in a more highbrow manner but I'm afraid I don't find the characters or their romance particularly memorable. This is due to the novella format of this story, of course, where there is not much room for Ms Delvay to do much for her characters. The romance still feels rushed, but I suppose I'm happy that those two get to have so much fun in the process. I'm also not sure about how Marcus can be a detective as well as an artist since I doubt a cop can find much time to indulge in artistic indulgences the way Marcus is doing in this story.
Still, after all is said, Night Of The Cereus is a pretty good read for a sexy novella as long as the reader doesn't expect believable romance or well-developed characters from it.
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