by Marilyn Lee, contemporary (2001)
Ellora's Cave, $4.30, ISBN 0-9712177-7-7
Carnal Confessions is actually three short stories packaged together. It actually progresses from not-good to good towards the end, and even when it is not good, the well-written love scenes (with the usual inadvertant gaffes at times) offer plenty of nice distraction.
Sister's Keeper tells of how Kelly Brooks, mistaken by Damon Evans as her sister Karen, gets nailed by that big guy for the ride of her life. Of course, Damon and Karen's relationship is platonic, but Kelly feels guilty later about her slip in the heat of the moment. What to do now? She just can't get Damon out of her mind and neither can Damon.
Nice love scenes, but I don't really find this story memorable, because far too many pages are spent on Kelly and Damon examining each other naked and the resolution comes out of the blue by the ending. Maybe a little more investment in emotional development will improve matters. Still, Damon... yummy.
Next is Addicted, which tells of a one-night stand between Lena and Marc. They met on her friend's wedding day, and they probably surpass the newlyweds when it comes to wedding night firecrackers. Alas, you know how things are about one-night stands. Lena isn't too happy when she discovers that Marc has a supermodel girlfriend. Meeow.
Of course, Marc in the end chooses her instead of Ms Supermodel. Meanwhile, the love scenes are great - frank talk about the meow thing and the F word and all - and... ooh. While Lena will be right at home in the cast of Sex And The City, Marc is a bit of a jerk though. However, this one is not bad at all, and I actually believe that Marc is sincere in wanting Lena for a happily ever after in the end.
Finally, White Heat, an interracial "He has always been in love with his cop best friend's wife" story that actually works despite its short length. Tasha is devastated when her husband Steve died on the line of duty, and in her grief, she lashes out at Steve's best friend Jake. But when Tasha and Jake sleep together - grief do that to people sometimes - things get complicated. Tasha wants to hold on to Steve, but Jake professes his love for her, and what is she to do now?
I love this one. Firstly, Steve and Tasha are obviously happily wed. She even calls his winky Detective Long, of all things. While it can get sticky considering Tasha has just lost Steve so recently when Jake makes the move on her, the author actually succeeds in making me believe that this is not just a rebound affair. Tasha is intelligent and likeable, Jake is like a sexy Denis Leary dude minus the cussing (except in bed - oh yeah baby!), and in the end, all's fine and I get a smile on my face.
Carnal Confessions is a good read. The three short stories won't offer much in terms of character and relationship development, but the author makes do with what she has very well. I also love the frank talk and the love scenes, of course, as well as the author's ability to create three very different stories with different voices and style. Hot sex and love, twenty first century style, is what Carnal Confessions offers with attitude, and that's why it's a cool, chic read.
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