LoveSpell, $4.99, ISBN 0-505-52285-3
Sci-fi Romance, 1998
I don’t understand what the author Chloe Hall is trying to do or say with her book Ariel’s Dance. It’s confusing. The hero’s stuffypot behavior is celebrated, his wife-to-be’s stuffypot behavior is designed to be laughed at. The heroine’s hinted promiscuity is quickly defused so as to not offend any sensibilities of mine, but the hero’s debauchery is lauded. Earth calling Planet Hall: what the heck is going on here?
But if pure entertainment is the sole item on the menu, well, dang it, yes, this one is pure fun. That is, when the hero Dekkan whose southern-bound orifice must be plugged up is not in the picture.
Dekkan is a businessman whose people the Amitan follow a strict rule of proper behavior. The Amish, sorry, I mean the Amitan distastefully arms himself with a hormone-inhibiting patch as he steps into the planet of Mariposa. On Mariposa, you want sex, you want alcohol, you want fun – you got it. Dekkan doesn’t want anything but to retrieve his father’s missing ring from that harlot Ariel who had been Daddy’s mistress when Daddy was here months before.
Of course, he doesn’t blame Daddy. It’s Ariel’s fault that his daddy is tempted to oil his engines. Harlot! But how nice – Ariel isn’t a thief, and while she may have boinked a few guys or two in her past, she is not his daddy’s mistress. In fact, she and Daddy have been working to retrieve the ring from a thief. So Dekkan and Ariel join forces.
Meanwhile, Dekkan’s wife-to-be Sebella drops into the scene. In the one sole gem of a line in this book, she declares that she will not marry any man that isn’t pure. I love this. I love this reversal of the usual double standards in romance novels. But alas, the author ruthlessly cuts her down into a laughingstock. Meanwhile, Dekkan thinks Ariel a harlot but heck, he doesn’t mind popping his whopper with her. Hello, Dekkan, you’re in a romance novel, please respect your woman, okay?
The plot is ridiculous, but the humor is fun, even if it’s at the expense of everyone. Ariel is a pretty good heroine, and she as well as a few other secondary characters saves the show. Dekkan is as boring, prissy, and stuck-up as they come: he seems to love Ariel only after she fits his image of an ideal woman, not before. He and Ariel just boink-boink-boink all the time – not that I am complaining about the frequency of the boinkings – but there’s little space allocated to quiet moments.
Still, for a nonsensical romp, Ariel’s Dance is pure fun. It’s not a good romance, but heck, there’s sex, there’s people screaming and falling over themselves to make me laugh, and there’s enough sexist overtones to give this story the respectable credibility it needs. All hail this thing: a campy pleasure never seen since they phased out the Conan-the-Barbarian geek-sex-fantasy novels in the late 1980s. Nice to see that the trashy subgenre of scantily-clad women and jutting erections still lives on in romance novels.