Eli And Sarel
by Shiloh Walker, fantasy (2003)
Ellora's Cave, $5.20, ISBN 1-84360-700-X

Our vampire Hunter hero Elijah Crawford first showed up in Shiloh Walker's first book in the series The Hunters where he was the third party in the obligatory ménage à trois thing the hero and the heroine of that book got into.

I don't believe you need to read that book to appreciate this one, although some readers who are new to the series may be wondering why Eli is sleeping with his best buddy's wife at the start of this story. It's a threesome thing, folks, but Eli is looking for a woman for his own in this story. Don't ask me if he and Declan intend to start a swinger commune though. I don't want to know. Oh, and before you ask, Declan and Eli aren't doing it. This book was written during the dark old days when the publisher was convinced that women will die if they read about manlove.

So, where were we? It should tell you how much I appreciate this story when I have more to say about the sexual musical chairs taking place in this story than the plot or the characters.

So, five years later Eli is temporarily on his own because Tori and Declan has gotten tired of inviting a third person into their bed when Tori and Declan are, like, soul-mates forever and therefore put Eli on a time-out. Don't ask me why those two think it's a good idea to invite him into their bed in the first place.

Eli continues to happily kill and feed on bad men who abuse women and kiddies. He encounters Malachi, a very powerful vampire who freed Eli from his nasty evil vampire maker (who is, of course, naturally a woman because all angst-ridden vampire heroes are sired by evil bitches - look it up in the Urban Fantasy Formula Handbook, page 65). Malachi, after a few pages of "Are you looking forward to my story?" moments, informs Eli that some mysterious woman is looking for him and this woman apparently emanates powerful vibes of sheer hatred for him. Hmm, are we certain that this woman is looking for this Eli and that she is not some demented Lord Of The Rings fangirl who will never forgive Elijah Wood for not marrying Sean Astin like she has fantasized in her magic Livejournal fanfictions?

This woman, Sarel, is angry at Eli because she blames Eli for... well, it's a long story and let's just say that she soon realizes that Eli is not that bad a person and she's soon riding the happy train to join the big Hunter family.

Perhaps there is a decent story in Eli And Sarel but it is buried under a heap of convoluted bond and soulmate things to justify all kinds of sex scenes between Declan, Tori, Eli, and any random secondary character in what seems like the author's attempt to pull off a Laurell K Hamilton kind of story. Ultimately, I just don't "get" this story. There is possibly a decent urban fantasy tale in here somewhere but all those scenes after scenes to make this story oh-so-sexy only have me wanting to pull my hair out in frustration. I want to tell these characters to stop having sex or talking about sex or thinking about sex and do... something else, anything. Everything in here seems to point back towards sex, it's annoying.

Perhaps my problem is that I read the author's The Hunters books from Berkley first and only these early books in the series later on. The Berkley books showcase some fine storytelling and world-building as well as erotic love scenes. Eli And Sarel only has plenty of increasingly silly soulmate bonds and other prettied-up justifications for sex scenes after sex scenes. There is such a wide universe of a difference in terms of quality that I can only shake my head in wonder.

I can only conclude that the key to enjoying this book is to somehow appreciate it for its abundance of sex scenes and shed any expectations that one may have after reading the author's Berkley books.

Rating: 48

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