by Racy Li, paranormal (2007)
Loose Id, $5.99, ISBN 978-1-59632-378-0
The books from Loose Id often have covers that are nothing more than badly done recreations from very recognizable movie and TV show posters and Racy Li's first effort for this publisher, Ninja, is no different. That's Jennifer Love Hewitt pouting at me from the cover. I'm not sure who that guy in judo outfit about to take a dump over the city like he's a monster in Godzilla is, though. Certainly not a ninja like the hero in this story, heh.
The ninja hero is called Ninja. No, his comrades in the PPA - Planetary Protection Agency to you, my dear, not Pitiful Pointless Alliterations - are not called Cop, Samurai, and Token Black Guy. What gives you the idea? Unfortunately, there are Teapot and Hawk, so I don't know if that's better or worse. I'll just let other people decide on that.
Ninja is trying to save the kiddies in an elementary school from the terrorists in league with the Snakehead Triad and the de la Quinta cartel. I see that there are no Middle-eastern terrorists so obviously someone, ahem, has to keep up with the times a little bit more. At any rate, the school is populated by Latin-American children with names like Anton and Gilberto (Pepe and Juan are on sick leave that day) complete with pidgin English and italicized Mexican phrases so I know this is going to be a touching Reader's Digest front cover story of the month moment. Saving illiterate minority kiddies who are desperately in need of some affirmative action lovin' is so in nowadays and politically correct too! Rather predictably, there's also a bomb to be defused and our Ninja is just the right person to pull a MacGyver on us all. But oh no, the theme song hasn't even played halfway when out comes an... uh, let me quote Ms Li, "alchemist"! But lo, Ninja's stars are already flashing across the screen. The MacGyver theme song resumes but alas, things don't always work out as planned. But at least lil' Pepe and Juanita are saved, phew.
Ninja moves on from a not-so-successful day of saving lil' Pepes and Juanitas in some schools in the fashionable ghettos to watching our heroine Liz Blackwell use a vibrator on herself - not that she knows he is watching, of course. Then Ninja's ears prick up. He hears sirens in the distance! Oh no, another poor kiddie is in trouble, this time being a burning building! Ninja then takes off. Clearly, playing supervoyeur is of secondary importance to being a superhero.
Ninja's real name is Kent Alistair and he is actually Liz's secretary, which adds to the whole "Why You Should Do Background Checks Before You Employ Someone" PSA this book is turning out to be. Like that Kent fellow who likes to wear red undies over blue spandex tights, this Kent is considered a geek by those who don't know him as Ninja. Apart from her battery-operated boyfriend, Liz is also seeing her boss Nick even when she knows that he has ties with the Triad. Alas, when some goons from the Triad try to assault her for who knows why, she'll get "Triad" of Nick soon enough, haw haw. If you think that's bad, wait until you read this book, by the way. Where was I? Oh yes, Ninja comes to her rescue and the next thing I know, she is asking her rescuer to eat her sashimi and make her scream "Nippon ninjas ichi!". Can you blame Liz? After all, as Ms Li puts it on page 30:
"Please," she begged, even as she was unsure of what he would do. She had never fucked a ninja before. How would he fuck her? What would he do to her?
I'm not exactly on a first name basis with the Mr Happy of any ninja myself but I'd like to think that I'd need some time to recover from the ordeal of being assaulted by goons who want to kill me for who knows what reason before I start wanting to get the freak on with another masked man. I'm just saying.
Tall, dark, and mysterious as ever, he stood before her, masked once again and wearing black Kevlar body armor, his katana at his back.
Wait, I change my mind. It's the black Kevlar body armor. How can you resist a hot stud in Kevlar body armor? Or maybe it's that katana. Oh, my makibishi are so hard just thinking about it! I want his wakizashi inside me! Right now!
The next day, as Liz hacks into the Triad database without much effort - maybe the Triad's homepage is on Yahoo! Geocities - and fantasizes about being taken by a ninja on the conference table, she also finds time to view Kent in a new light. She then gets on his bike and it isn't long before she wants him to do her too. My, this Liz really knows how to enjoy life.
Okay, I can go on and on but I think I'll stop here or I'll be up the whole night giving blow-by-blow accounts of every scene in this book. Let's just say that Liz and her Ninja boy are soon getting it on. The story abruptly takes a nosedive after the first sashimi-baby-oh scene though because I'm expecting them to do all kinds of impressive ninja bondage kung-fu eeee-yes I-see-Japan oh-make-me-a-sushi-baby voodoo after all that build up, but the actual sex scenes are short with nothing memorable. I'm quite disappointed that we have a ninja hero and he doesn't do any ninja tricks in bed. He doesn't even make his Mr Happy vanish in a burst of light or hang upside down from a chandelier, hmmph. Despite the "BDSM" label on the product page on the website, I'm hard pressed to remember any memorable BDSM scenes in this story. Then again, the website doesn't specifically say whether BDSM stands for the usual sexual practices many romantic erotica authors claim to be experts on or "Buffoons, Dunderheads, Stooges, Mountebanks" so I can't exactly say I didn't get what I pay for in Ninja because oh my goodness indeed.
Unfortunately, the second half of Ninja becomes deadly boring when Liz starts pulling that "Ninja/Kent" identity confusion thing. It didn't make Lois Lane a smart person back in the old days and it's not doing anything for Liz either. The whole issue is tedious. The story becomes tedious to read as a result. The story starts out as a farce and I find myself expecting more and more silliness but alas, the story just peters out after the first love scene as if Ms Li is wondering whether it's still not too late to try and convince me that the last ninety or so pages are just a dream and this story can still turn out to be Smallville instead of a MadTV parody of Smallville.
The sex scenes are almost an afterthought in this story, as if Ms Li's primary intention is to make me laugh at how absurd her premise is instead of, I don't know, giving me that romantic sexy story I am expecting. Or am I? At the end of the day, there are so many erotic paranormal romances out there which turn out to be non-stop bad comedic sex and cringe-inducingly corny prose, mainly because many of them are written by authors who have to write such stories or they can't sell anything to anybody. However, Ninja is so overly absurd and ridiculous in its first half or so that it transcends badness and becomes very entertaining as a result. Reading aloud parts of this book to my husband causes the two of us to laugh until our sides ache and our eyes water.
I know, Ms Li would no doubt prefer that I find this book enjoyable in a manner more befitting its sexy paranormal romance tag but as long as Ms Li continues to equate sex with farcical absurdity, I don't think that will be happening in the foreseeable future. But I do enjoy Ninja. If you are having a boring afternoon and you'd love to have something that can make you laugh and generally have a silly good time, perhaps this Ninja is the diversion you are looking for. As long as everyone keeps expectations very low - I'd recommend setting it right down at the bottom of the barrel - this book may just be the funniest and therefore the most memorably entertaining story you'll read in a while. Is this a backhanded compliment? Of course not - I do enjoy this book after all, and I am telling everyone who wants a laugh to go look at this baby. Then again, I suppose it can be considered such if you expect me to find this book an erotic masterpiece. Call it a hunch, but I have this feeling that even Racy Li knows that she cannot expect that from me.
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