Bliss River
by Thea Devine, historical (2002)
Brava, $14.00, ISBN 1-57566-801-7

Bliss River is vintage Thea Devine, and I'm in bliss myself. Seriously, now that she's writing for Brava, which lets her break loose without having to "tone down" like she did for her last few books for the mainstream Zebra romance line, she's back in fine form. This book probably won't convert anyone who doesn't like her backlist, but for fans like me, this may be a reason to celebrate.

Bliss River is a throwback to this author's sultry plantation erotica, and while it lacks the over-the-top skankiness of, say, Desired, it is still brimming with enough X-rated soap opera to please in a perverse way. We have the angry hero, Charles Elliot, coming back to Bliss River (this is in South Africa) to exact revenge - or something, because to be honest, I don't really get a clear picture of what he wants to do, or care to, I just want the skank stuff - but instead ends up skanking away with Georgiana "Georgie" Maitland. She has her own reasons to play Charles, but to be honest, I'm not paying attention.

Yes, I'm tragic, I know, but I really can't be bothered about the boring little details, and I really doubt Ms Devine cares either. Everything here is just an excuse for a long road trip filled with sex, sex, sex - sweat isn't the only thing dripping in the hot, hot weather - or outrageous family bickerings, backstabbings, and lurid melodrama. I'm in heaven. Charles and Georgie's relationship is pure power play, and if you like Ms Devine's books, you'll be familiar with this one (Beyond Desire has a better written sexual power struggle - that book seems to have the hero having the upper hand, but in the end, it's the girl who holds all the power, too bad she doesn't seem to know it).

Maybe that's the problem with this book - it seems like a condensation of this author's previous, better books after they have heated those books to evaporation point. Reading Bliss River gives me deja vu of this author's glorious moments in the past. Bliss River, on its own, does satisfy if one is looking for unadulterated no-holds barred sexual congas. As a bonus, the author has cut down significantly on the italics, and Georgie is one of her better heroines. (Charlie, alas, remains a rather shadowy and amorphous guy to the end.)

But if you ask me, I can't honestly explain why a long-time Thea Devine fan should pay $14.00 for this book, when there are better books from this author that are somewhat similar in atmosphere but superior to this book. .

Rating: 80

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