by Violet Summers, paranormal (2008)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-59578-504-6
Saving Jenna is not part of Violet Summers' erotic contemporary series for Liquid Silver Books. It seems to be the first book in what I believe to be a new series revolving around three human sisters trying to escape the shadow of their father, a man whose role model must be Fred Phelps as he leads a vigilante movement against spooky folks that co-exist with humans in the author's urban fantasy setting.
But William Stone isn't just a loathsome bigot. He also beats the crap out of our heroine Jenna when she tries to (weakly) protest his actions. His household is populated by male staff members that will not hesitate to molest and more. In wake of all this overwhelming skankiness, Jenna decides to flee. And shortly after the story opens, she actually succeeds, literally running off into the night in a scene that comes complete with people hunting her down using torchlights and all, only to end up in the, er, open arms of our hero Nic Alero.
With a name like his, I'm pretty sure you won't be too surprised to learn that Nic is a vampire. While he doesn't own a hot spook club where you can have all the sex you want with undead ghouls, there is such a club here nonetheless, only Nic's good friend owns it. I suppose you can say that this story is only 80% clichéd when it comes to the setting. Nic keeps an eye on the patrons of the club as a favor to his friend, feeling a bit mopey now that indiscriminate sex with vampire groupies seem to have lost its allure in the wake of his need to find his - yes, you guess it - mate. The One, with a capital O, which seems appropriate given that we all know that vampires will give you big O after O in such stories.
Nic knows that his One is called Jenna because he has seen her in his erotic dreams. While he is no doubt touching himself inappropriately while enjoying those dreams, he also wishes that he can protect wee Jenna from her troubles. He gets his wish when he finally detects... er, Jenna's telepathic Bat-signal is what I suppose I can call it, and comes into the scene just as Jenna is getting beaten up black and blue yet again. While the bad guys won't give up so easily on their quest to get Jenna back and destroy all spooks, Jenna will flourish under Nic's TLC.
I know, the whole mate-mate-mate thing, coupled with vampire sex clubs and pack politics all scream "Cliché!" but I'd hesitate to consider this one a derivative take on an overdone premise. You see, one big difference between this story and those stories is that Nic does not display stereotypical alpha male traits. Sure, he's unquestionably a man of authority, but he treats Jenna like pure gold. I think it makes a cute and nice change that we have a big brave spook hero who unhesitatingly tells the heroine that he is hers instead of the usual she-is-his macho male yammering. Jenna could have been an otherwise exasperating victim character, but I love how the author paints her relationship with Nic with such tenderness that I find myself enjoying every minute of their mating dance. Because of the strong emotional component in that relationship that exists alongside the more obvious erotic aspects, I have no problems overlooking the fact that the mate-mate-mate is just a shortcut to explain why the characters will fall for each other. They do care for each other, I find, as evidenced by their interactions with each other, so in this instance, that is good enough for me.
By the way, the sex scenes are explicit and, in some instances, the author pushes the envelope just because she can.
If you have read any stories by this author, you'd know that Violet Summers has a very melodramatic way of storytelling. Her villains aren't just evil, they are over-the-top crazy, for example. Saving Jenna is no different from any of the previous works by this author that I have read. Emotions run wild, people do things in extremes, and everything is just so melodramatic. There is a fine line separating a melodramatic rescue fantasy from romance celebrating the victimization of the heroine in a most insulting and offensive manner. For me, this author has managed to walk the fine line just fine, but I'm sure other people may disagree with me here.
I really like this story. But I'd at the same time warn you guys to proceed with caution nonetheless, because this author's melodramatic style is definitely not for everybody.
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