Night Pleasures
by Sherrilyn Kenyon, fantasy (2002)
St Martin's Press, $6.50, ISBN 0-312-97998-3

Time out. Okay, I'm confused. Is this book related in any way at all to this author's novella in last month's anthology Tapestry? I do know this book is related or set in the same world as Fantasy Lover, but I'm lost.

This author's fantasy world is a mess. The heroine has psychic powers but she's suppressing it. One sister is a vampire hunter. One sister reads tarot. A friend married an ex-Greek sex-slave. I'm pretty sure there are flying talking hippos and dancing Big Mac Oracles and anything else that one can rip off from Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel. Maybe this author's fantasy world is called Inside My Giant Kitchen Sink.

And it's also another Sexsexsexsex Fantasy Romance. Dara Joy has a lot to answer for, I tell you.

Ms Kenyon lazily takes a prim and proper EeeEEeeeEeeEEeee heroine, Amanda Deveraux, and an oversexed hoga-hoga Chippendale porn vampire Kyrian of Thrace. Kyrian is a Dark Hunter - he is a vampire who hunts after evil critters in the night that go bump, like daimons. Don't ask - I never like sticking my nose down the kitchen sink, not even Ms Kenyon's, please don't make me do that. He ends up being handcuffed to Amanda, and next thing you know, it's mental lusting ji-ji-ba all the way.

Now, if the author chooses to go the Dara Joy path and pour a surfeit of necrophilia sex on me, I'm all for it. Upside down, spread wide open, sideways, backward, forward, gimme gimme gimme. But no! Like the coy shy-shy Amanda, Ms Kenyon must simply shake her head melodramatically and sweeps our two lovebirds away with the Giant Peacock Fan of Hera of hers, and look, all these two lovebirds can do is lust. Want. Don't want. Want. Don't want. Want! No! Yes! No!

"No," I cry. "Make it stop! Just start shagging already! Make it stop, make it stop!"

All that mental angst better have a good reason for it. I will accept nothing less than the decree of whatever Divine Being in this book forbidding them to have sex.

So why aren't they having sex?

Kyrian doesn't trust women, that's why. Yes, bring on the Evil Slut Wife plot device. There's plenty of space in Ms Kenyon's kitchen sink. May as well sink in a few battleships of evil sluts too. Of course, he will soon learn that Amanda will be the one who will never betray him, et cetera, blah blah blah, snooze time people, last one out please turn off the lights and turn up the air conditioner, zzzz.

I probably will still care if the author isn't writing a bad Chippendale porn fantasy. But Kyrian has no flaws. He is Fabio, Eros, and Dionysius all in one, perfect in physique, teeth, and dong, not to mention a super breed of mega-powerful vam-pah-yah who can do freaking anything. (The author loses me though when she says that Kyrian has the charms of Aphrodite. I sincerely hope she doesn't mean that Kyrian has triple D bosoms and thunder thighs.) Amanda? She is so beautiful, so gorgeous, so shy, so prim, so eeeeuw. Their mating is like the coming together of two perfectly designed plastic mannequins, sort of like Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, come to think of it, and I can only put on shades to protect my eyes from the radiating purity/virility aura of orgasmic power emanating from our plastic demigods of faultless perfection. Personality? Who needs personality when we have so much perfect plastic perfection even the best cosmetic clinics can't provide?

Oh yeah, she gets into trouble, he rescues her, and that wraps up this story.

Night Pleasures concentrate too much on the sex but not delivering enough of it - do I make sense? - while at the same time it creates a confusing fantasy world that tries to encompass every freaking Mutant Enemy cliché in existence while never expanding it enough. A book that practically requires footnotes to sort itself out even as if seems to be stuck in some limbo of monotonous, repetitious mental lusting is definitely getting too complicated for its own good.

Time out, Ms Kenyon, and stop trying too hard. Please make up your mind what you want to do. If it's the Dara Joy sex fantasy thing, then for goodness sake, tone down the mental yammering and tone up the boinking. If we're gonna go down the more celibate fantasy route, then please stick to one Mutant Enemy cliché and expand it instead of going all Buffy the Vampire Tarot-Reading Psychic Paranormal Guardian Angel Oracle Watcher Firefly Time Travel Superhero on me.

Let me know when this Kitchen Sink World of Sherrilyn Kenyon finally finds its own equilibrium and settles down into its own natural rhythm.

Rating: 68

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