Juicy Gems Publishing, $2.99
Fantasy Romance, 2018
When Emerald Gryphon opens, the hero Ethan wakes up groggy from a hangover, no doubt smelling like a brewery gone septic, and pulls on some no doubt not-too clean clothes off the floor without even smelling them first to see whether they don’t smell too much like drunken sex with a gallon of vomit on top. The villa he shares with his bromance sequel baits are described as so filthy and smelly that our hero even gags at the whole thing.
I can only wonder… have I stumbled upon a story that focuses on a specific fetish, unhygienic blokes in this case? With this being an indie book, and with so many weird things out there on the Web, it’s hard to tell. But I suppose if you’re the kind who bites your lower lip in delight at the idea of smelling a guy who hasn’t bathed in weeks, doused on alcohol and yeast in the meantime, then this one has your name written all over its swarthy bulk.
Of course, that’s provided that you can overlook the fact that these hygienically-challenged dudes all speak like petulant sarcastic girls stuck in “I’m auditioning for a Joss Whedon TV show” mode. There are times when jocks need to speak like jocks to bring on the authenticity, and this is one of those times.
Oh yes, the plot. Ethan and his buddies go cave-exploring (not dirty!) in Belize when they find this figurine which somehow gets our hero to shape-shift into a gryphon after our heroine Jessica presses a button (not dirty!) and now our hero can have the body of a lion and the head of a dragon while fleeing a shapeshifting man with fiery tattoos and HA HA HA HA HA.
Oh, I’m sorry, am I supposed to laugh or not? It’s hard to tell because the author writes like she’s “on” all the time, like a parody of an urban fantasy author has all her characters sound like the same character from a rejected Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode (complete with italicized words for emphasis), in a plot which seems like the author is just making things up as she goes along.
Look at this:
Even weirder, it felt right. During the sex, it felt like I had a connection to her that went beyond our physical bodies. It was as if I had her brain on speed-dial, and could feel her every emotion as she felt them. It made the sex more of a dance, or a duet, rather than two bodies bumping together.
Which made the sex pretty fricken awesome. And not just on my end.
Beyond that… something else had changed within me. Before shapeshifting into the gryphon there was a strange rumble in my chest. Like a cell phone on vibrate, but extremely faint. It wasn’t a bother, not compared to the rest of the weird flu-like symptoms I’d had, but it was a persistent sensation.
This is supposed to be a sexy moment. Can you feel the throbbing passion, people?
And this is a clash of alpha males:
“I’m Jessica’s coworker,” Ethan said. “We’re having dinner together. Please leave.”
Mark stepped forward into the doorway, his arm coming into view. Ethan didn’t flinch as Mark pointed at his hair. “Your hair’s wet. You smell like fucken shampoo.”
“I’m going to ask you one more time,” Ethan said calmly. “Please leave so we can finish our dinner.”
“The fuck I am.”
Can you feel the tension? Can you feel it? Or is that just gas? And don’t these people come off as such convincing examples of little kids who have just learned how to cuss?
And steel yourself: this is the dramatic confrontation of good versus evil that will have you at the edge of your seat.
But as he spoke, and told the dragon what his deal was, my heart dropped.
“NO!” I screamed, unable to hold it in. “ETHAN, NO! DON’T DO IT!”
The dragon bitch was on me within seconds.
I don’t know whether Emerald Gryphon is written deliberately to be so banal and vapid that even little kids will be able to enjoy it and probably see themselves in the so-called adults, but I think I’ve wasted enough time and words on this one, when a simple “Eeuw!” would have just sufficed.