Ellora’s Cave, $6.99, ISBN 978-1419926747
Sci-fi Erotica, 2010
This month, the TBR Challenge theme is either a contemporary or paranormal romance. Well, this is a good time as any for me to take a look at a work by Laurann Dohner, who made some ripples a few years back when she signed a 75-book contract with Ellora’s Cave. Burning Up Flint is the first entry in a series called Cyborg Seduction, and I can only wonder which dictionary these folks are using, as there is nothing here that resembles seduction. This one is another story in which the hero forces himself on the heroine, but because he’s hot and she has had orgasms out of the whole thing, this is – naturally – love. You have been warned!
Yes, the heroes are cyborgs, and Flint is just one of the many who would be getting their own books in this series. He and his gang kidnap Mirasia Carver who is on a spacecraft on her way back to Earth. Well, Flint tells her that he won’t hurt her… as long as she does what he says, so he takes her to his place, forces her to undress and let him touch her, poke her with his fingers, penetrate her with his wee-wee, and oh my god, what a seduction! I tell you, we have a come long way from those days when a classy lady puts out only for diamonds and fur coats and nothing less, and I do miss those days. The bulk of the story sees Flint branding the heroine, generally acting like he owns her, smirking all the time (and I really hate that word, smirking, and I don’t know why authors like to use that smarmy word for their heroes these days). There are some adventures in the late third or so, tacked on like some pages from another book that are accidentally stuck to this one, and I can’t help feeling that the adventure part is an excuse for the hero to save the heroine and hence, “redeem” him or something. As if being molested and later penetrated without consent by a trash can guy isn’t humiliating enough.
Oh, sorry, Flint isn’t really a trash can. Unfortunately, he’s worse – he’s boring. Now, when it comes to happy smut in outer space, I don’t mind a rape scene or two, as long the author makes it clear that the whole thing is supposed to be a politically incorrect kind of smut. I can understand and appreciate that, as I personally believe that there is no real “right” or “wrong” with one’s erotic fantasies. But here, the forced seduction scenes are boring. The whole thing reads like a furniture assembly manual, right down to the hero barking orders like he’s reading out loud from a list. Aside from the sticky issue of consent, the sex is actually tame and dull. It’s a shame. The hero is a cyborg – at least, make his wee-wee shaped like a screwdriver or have him squirt petroleum or something!
The hero’s behavior is actually despicable – he sells the heroine off to his buddy when she is dying, refuses to take her back until she lets him shag her in front of the cyborg he sold her to (in order to demonstrate how a cyborg can “seduce” a woman this way), and it’s all downhill from there. But I can’t get offended or angry with this trash can man because the author’s writing is so dry, basic, and boring. The boredom factor only intensifies when it becomes clear early on that “cyborg” is just a shorthand for “big, hung guys for many sequels”. Their inhuman abilities are just an excuse to make them indestructible and render any plot suspense-free. Even the initial premise of them hijacking ships and forcing passengers to give up DNA samples is pretty silly. Not to mention, the story doesn’t seem to know whether it wants a plot to be all about silly sex or something more serious – as a result, it tries to be the former in the first half or so, the latter later on, and the whole thing reads like two different stories haphazardly mashed together. Throughout it all, the heroine constantly protests that she is an independent, feisty woman but oh well, there’s no stopping the trash can man from sticking it in her everywhere, so I guess this is a score for randy kitchen appliances everywhere.
Burning Up Flint has all it needs in the premise and plot to be something really raunchy, audacious, and bawdy, but unfortunately, the whole thing reads like a checklist for people who want to write just like Lora Leigh. Really. The author could have liven her story up by making things a little different from the whole “absurdly hung and powerful band of 200 heroes all bursting for sequels” formula that has plagued the fantasy romance scene for so long now, as the whole thing is just so dry and even mechanical. Even the hero’s atrocity feels like a misfired calculated effort to shock. Maybe the author needs a few pointers from Dr Chuck Tingle.