Wicked Garden
by Lorelei James, contemporary (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-60504-249-8

Wicked Garden has some kind of plot about our heroine Eden LaCroix trying to salvage the local community center, but hey, you know, the most important thing about this story is that we will get to see her get busy with two men. This short story is part of the Ménage & More series, after all. Eden is not too amused when she realizes that the boy she almost had sex with when she was a teenage girl - he actually ran away when she had her skirt off, off all the nerve - is back in her life as a sexy adult. Billy Buchanan finds her as irresistible as ever. Joining the party is the rock star brother of his boss, Jon White Feather, who is, to be blunt, Eden's happy shag buddy.

There are thirty pages or so of really boring back story and pretense at plot, so you may want to skip all that to get right into the groove. There are some minor drama about whether Billy and Eden will be staying in town once the party is over, but they are just that - minor filler drama.

I have no idea what Jon is doing in this story, to be honest, unless it's to ensure that this story meets the we-need-three-please requirement of the Ménage & More series. This is a pretty familiar story of two teenage sweethearts reuniting for a more permanent second-time around, so when Jon shows up, he actually interrupts the main storyline. Maybe it's just me not "getting" the whole "open" or "swinger" lifestyle, but I also feel that Jon joining in the fun actually cheapens what is supposed to be a sweet relationship between Billy and Eden.

Wicked Garden comes off like a conventional and sweet, if erotic, love story trying too hard to be "hip" and "adventurous" by adding in a one-dimensional himbo to spice up the sex scenes. Chalk this one up as another story that sabotages itself in the ever-present quest to titillate readers.

Rating: 72

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