by Fletchina Archer, contemporary (2007)
Total-e-bound, £2.99, ISBN 978-1-906328-30-6
I am at a disadvantage where Fletchina Archer's Psychic Detective III: Deadly Shot is concerned since I have not read parts one and two of this soap opera. From this story alone, I gather that our psychic heroine in question, Angela Simmons, is in a relationship with Ronda Moore and her husband Jeff. Ronda also happens to be sleeping with Joan. Joan is also sleeping with Don Carter. Previously, Don's wife Joyce hires Angela to investigate who he is sleeping with behind her back. Three clowns in the background play a polka version of It's A Small World on their accordions.
I'm just kidding about the clowns, by the way.
When this story begins, Joyce runs to Angela, telling her that Joyce has killed her husband. Joyce showed Don the photos Angela took of Don and Joan and when Don denied having an affair with Joan, Joyce stabbed him with a steak knife. However, it turns out that Joyce didn't quite kill him, not that it matters because while Joyce was with Angela, someone else showed up and finished off poor Don for good.
But really, the mystery is pretty much secondary to the relationship between Angela and Ronda and the assorted characters that are drawn into their beds. I have to say, I don't know the characters prior to this book and I am therefore missing some pieces when it comes to their characters and relationship, but I find myself liking Angela and Ronda. Ronda is naughty and enthusiastic about sex, but at the same time she is also a very lonely woman who feels abandoned at times by her workaholic husband Jeff.
What I find most intriguing about the tangled web of relationships here is that Angela and Ronda love each other in a way that occludes their other bed partners. These two clearly love each other the closest to the conventional romance novel definition of "love", but even so, Ms Archer doesn't shy away from dealing with issues like jealousy when it comes to relationships involving three and more. For example, Angela is upset that Ronda is sexually attracted to Joan and participated in the threesome with the two ladies only because she doesn't want to feel left out. In this story, Ronda and Angela will have to deal with Angela's feelings in this matter.
I also like the exchanges between the women in the story, such as this one where Ronda is upset over Jeff coming home late and cries to both Angela and Joan.
"He made me cry. I swore he’d never make me cry again. And here I am."
"At least he wasn't with other women like my husband was." Joan’s voice was soft.
"I don't know. Sometimes I'd rather think that he ignored me to at least be with some woman than to do business all the time. I could think it was my breasts, my thighs, my face or maybe that I'm too fat. But no, with this it's just that I'm invisible, I'm not important enough to even register."
"Believe me, it's not better if he's with other women. Or men. You don't know what kind or whether he likes big boobs or small ones, fat girls or thin ones, or even if he likes girls at all. That's where I was with Matt. I'm glad we finally separated. At least with Jeff you know that he loves you."
"Yeah, as much as he can love anyone. He's just sort of limited in that department." Ronda wiped her face again.
"We're all limited." Angela stroked Ronda's shoulder.
I appreciate the fact that the author tries to delve into the minds of her characters instead of being merely content with having them doing the rumpy-pumpies all night. The love scenes are actually very nicely done, although they are definitely erotica rather than romantic in nature since these scenes involve multiple partners. I really like this exchange the best because it's so sweet and even poetic:
"My first love was in kindergarten."
"Nothing physical." Ronda laughed.
Angela picked up Ronda’s image of holding hands with a grinning snaggle-toothed kid.
Okay, I mean your first sexual experience."
"My first real one was with you. That’s the first time I experienced something intense and overpowering like you hear it’s supposed to be.”
Angela was silent.
In fact, I have plenty of fun with the characters here and I especially enjoy how this story tries to be more than just about sex. I like Ms Archer's exploration of her characters' psyche. So much so, I'm choosing to overlook the tacked-on and really lame suspense subplot or how this is clearly a straightforward erotica with the paranormal and suspense elements badly tacked on to make it more marketable to electronic publishers. Never mind the horrible title and really terrible attempts at "suspense", there is something good here that may be worth the look if you are a fan of well-written erotica.
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