Ellora’s Cave, $4.99, ISBN 978-1419913013
Contemporary Erotica, 2007
Goodness, just how many Torrid Tarot titles did I buy back in those days? In hindsight, I should have used all that money to get myself a new graphic card for my PC or something.
Okay, after reading Jessica Darian’s After Hours, I can only wonder how many people out there actually keep a vibrator in the drawer of their work desk, so that they can whip it out after office hours for some ooh-aah antics. Of course, our heroine Sam is spied upon by her boss, Aidan Masters. He’s a super rich author that is also hot, built, fine, cute, and I’m sure he can both part the sea and walk on water using only his third leg.
He’s a bit of a jerk to her, but come on, we all know that being a jerk ranks below rich and hung in the list of what makes us romance readers go ooh-aah over a romance hero. To be fair, his jerk antics are informed ones—his actual behavior throughout the course of the boinkfest is more of a half-grouchy, always-horny dude.
So, once I get past the eye-rolling adult movie plot of a set-up, what happens is actually pretty good. The sex is nicely done, and the romantic resolution feels believable. It helps that the author doesn’t have Sam and Aidan rushing into some wedding ceremony or anything of that sort. So yes, the naughty scenes are just that, and what passes for romantic aftermath is actually pretty good too.
Characterization isn’t deep and the romance isn’t going to send hearts trembling, but hey, this is a short story.
It could be better, though, if the author had made better use of the first two chapters. The author wastes a lot of words introducing Sam’s friends, because it’s not like the two women end up joining our two main characters in the bedroom or anything. Worse, the opening chapter is all about the three women having a tarot session. Sure, that chapter gives the author an excuse to sell this story to the acquisition editor of the Torrid Tarot line, but it’s completely redundant and can be excised without affecting the rest of the story. The first chapter ends up making me think that it’s a hastily included last-minute filler to fit the Torrid Tarot criteria, while the next chapter is an attempt to spin some sequels out of this story. After Hours would be just fine if these two chapters were removed; in fact, the story would feel more focused and on-point if that were to happen.
At any rate, this one is alright. It won’t be a deep or profound read, but it is exactly what it says on the box: if you want a quick, naughty read, you can do worse.