by Thea Devine, historical (2001)
Kensington, $12.00, ISBN 1-57566-798-3

Ah, Thea Devine's latest, Seductive, is just the perfect antidote to the sweet "Lassie come home" happy puppy Regency stories I find myself reading in the past few days. The heroine Elizabeth Massey is as dumb as a sack of old turnips, I admit, but ooh, this is also the first time in so many... months that I find myself reading every word of the love scenes.

If the last few books by this author are horribly watered-down, not so in Seductive. The sex here is savage, primal, and is accompanied by a lot of coarse, frank bedside talk. Seductive also sees the usual Gothic melodrama by this author, although this time the plot isn't as far-fetched as vampires or Nazi-like eugenics projects that this author has done before.

Elizabeth is a widow who is about to get everything her impotent husband left behind after his death. Not so. Everything here goes to Nicholas Massey, her - nephew-in-law? - whatever. Nicholas comes to the ancestral home on some secret mission to flush out a bad guy called The Unseen Hand, but in the process finds himself captivated by Elizabeth. They strike a bargain. He will teach her all about her sexuality so that she can snare her old flame Peter and she will give him her body.

Frankly, Elizabeth is a... how shall I say it, ten bricks dumber than an airhead bimbo? She spends the entire story in denial. Her father uses her mercilessly for money, and she stupidly lets him do it. She loves Peter with a single-minded devotion that is pathetic, pathetic because Peter is so obviously just using her. When problem looms, her instinctive reaction is to go Ohnonono... Oh my God... Oh my God... this is not happening... Denial is this woman's second name.

But thankfully, there are so many ways to shut this bimbo up. And Nicholas do all of these ways so beautifully. Maybe "beautifully" is the wrong adjective to use. Anyway, those things they do with pearls, ooh baby. And the way Nicholas utilizes that Amazing One-Inch Stimulation Of Orgasm trick - ooh mama mia. The pistonics, the amazing permanent penile circulatory maxima, the gravity-defying acrobatics, and the way Nicholas just makes it so obvious that he can't get his hands off her, braving the night just to have her - oh, oh, oh. Not to mention the man's Angry Jealousy towards Peter. Now that's sexy.

Someone pass me the bucket of ice. I need to dunk my head in something cold. Now.

Nicholas' a sexy hero. He more than makes up for Elizabeth's vapid behavior. Dark, mysterious, amazing, and not to mention that he's a walking testimony of male endurance - ooh. And he has such a way with naughty words.

One of the reason I think Ms Devine is much better than Susan Johnson and Bertrice Small is that she actually pushes at the erotica/romance dividing lines better than the latter two. Here, she weaves the fantasy of a woman having two men lusting after her and begging after her to give them surcease. It is not as potent as the harem girl fantasy in Beyond Desire or the light BDSM of Desired that celebrates the Madonna/Whore complex with full hedonistic abandon, but it works nonetheless. Sometimes this author fumbles - there are moments when I just have to cackle at the inadvertently hilarious sections. Such as one where our Lizzy Bunny fantasizes about mashing Nicholas' banana so hard that the banana will go splat at the ceiling and the staff will be cleaning the splatters for days. Uhm... really, my dear. That seems excessive, not to mention painful.

And "Whip't cream for my lady's cake..."? I don't know what to say to that. This morning I look at my toast and promptly lost my appetite.

Still, Seductive is a wonderful read. Not because it's romantic - it is, in a way, because Nicholas is so possessive and so obsessed, but let's face it, no romance of mine will have such a stupid heroine as star, but because the love scenes are just so... er, Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo!

Rating: 78

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