by GR Bretz, paranormal (2009)
Noble Romance Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 978-1-60592-052-8
GR Bretz's Absinthe Eyes & Other Lies is a romance, in my opinion, just not one that will fit it easily with the label "Romance". It is a wonderfully haunting and perverse one, one that you'd probably not come across often in the romance landscape of today.
I don't want to give away too much about this story, so let me just say that this is the story of Dahlia, a woman who manages to inspire four men in this story to experience brief but startling burst of creative genius. The main character is a young man named Stephen, whose grandfather's company manufactured the special brand of absinthe that becomes closely connected to Dahlia's existence in this novella. Given that the men Dahlia were involved with in the past invariably met tormented demise - you live by your art, you die by your art, that kind of thing - it remains to be seen whether Stephen will be luckier than the men that had come (ahem) before him. Is Dahlia merely a creative groupie or is the real deal of a Muse that inspires men?
Dahlia is an enigmatic character in this story, but there is nothing enigmatic about the reactions she inflamed in men as well as women who swing that way: they love her in their various different manners. She lets them do whatever they want with her, but it seems that she's the one in control at the end of the day. Oh, and this is where I have better let you know: the sex scenes in this story are pretty explicit.
At the end of the day, Absinthe Eyes & Other Lies is a story that offers me an entertaining trip down the darker sides of human psyche. Dahlia doesn't just inspire men, she often brings out the worst from them as well. Her relationships with those men can be dark, disturbing, and even terrifying, with the lines between pleasure and pain often blurred that sometimes dying would seem like the ultimate climax in the relationship. Yes, I'm sure we all know some folks of art can be a bit, shall we say, strange in the head, but Dahlia brings out the strangeness the way a 70% discount on Dunkin Donuts draw out all the cops in the neighborhood.
This isn't a story for everyone, but if you like something dark, edgy, and unusual to while a few hours on, this one may just do the trick. It's different, unusual, and often haunting - the perfect kind of reading material for me to enjoy. If you enjoy stories by Pam Rosenthal, I suspect you may like this one as well.
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