Berkley Sensation, $7.99, ISBN 0-425-21305-6
Fantasy Romance, 2006
If you have been following the Lora Leigh Love Layover, you may be going, “Hey, did you guys skip a few books?” Actually, no. Those entries in the Breed series were reviewed ages so: The Breed Next Door, then Megan’s Mark, before coming to Harmony’s Way. The next book after this one, Tanner’s Scheme, has also been reviewed already. I know, I had been reading these books way out of order back then, and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything in the process. Isn’t that amazing?
I give this one three oogies, but honestly, that’s because it is a perfectly acceptable read. I also have nothing else to say about it. Previously, I read the author’s Berkley Sensation books without reading the Ellora’s Cave ones first, and I thought they were generally fun, campy reads that cannot be taken seriously if I know what is good for my sanity. Now that I have read those naughtier entries, though, Harmony’s Way is like eating well-prepared instant noodles after feasting on decadent caviar and chocolates for the last three weeks. Sure, the seasonings are present, and it’s not like I’m spewing out the food in disgust, but it’s just not as tasty anymore.
But that’s the common problem with erotic romance back in those days, no? These New York publishers would give book deals to authors who sell buckets of erotic stories in digital format, only to then bizarrely wrangle them in – not too much poopy chute fun, no random invitations of random neighbors and folks down the street to join the marital bed, nothing too sexy thank you – and make the very readers who have been fans of the authors all this while throw their hands up and wonder which UFO kidnapped their favorite brown town love authors. For some reason, Berkley Sensation pays Lora Leigh a lot of money to come onboard only to make her tone down the sexy drastically for… the plot.
Okay, you people can stop laughing now. I’m sure there are at least ten people out there who have been paying close attention to the plots and theatrics of the Breeds versus… the Genetics Council, is that what they are called?
Anyway, here we have an assassin Lion heroine, Harmony, who is all, hey, look at me, I’m angst-laden and tough and sassy, meow. She’s determined to stay out of the whole Breeds versus GC nonsense, but her brother, of all people, tracks her down and brings her back to some breeding pen in Mexico where her designated mate, Lance the Sheriff, is waiting with his, er, lance. You know the drill. Mate mate mate, pregnant, love thy will be done, the end.
The whole mate mate mate thing is fun in a cheesy and campy way, and I like how for a long time the author allows Harmony to be a tough-talking, tough-acting heroine who can walk the talk pretty decently. This is the best thing about this story, even if the routine is something I’ve read many times already in this author’s books. It’s true – Lora Leigh is like Amanda Quick, just add butt boink. Maybe it’s because I don’t read these books back to back, but the formula is still entertaining to me.
My peeve is a personal and hence subjective one: despite the heroine being a Lion and the hero being some puny mortal, the author still retains the boring old “Man… dominates woman!” dynamics and has Lance brown town his way into making Harmony his submissive mate. Okay, I know, in real life lionesses are the cool kick-ass ones that nonetheless cater to the lazy-ass male lion just because hey, penis, but come on, this is fiction and there are ways for a woman to dominate a man without being overt about it. The author only has to use her imagination. Sadly, despite the potentially interesting dynamics that could unfurl between Harmony and Lance, the author is content to just rehash the same old, same old.
Don’t ask me about the plot. People don’t read Playboy for the articles alone – don’t lie – and I don’t read these books for plot. There are anti-Breed people, Jonas is up to something, but who cares, really. We all just want his thing to go into her thing and we want those things and only those things, thank you very much.
Harmony’s Way is a middling kind of okay read. I’ve certainly read better, and in a way, the author going to Berkley Sensation may be a good thing for her, but it’s likely also a not-so-good thing for her fans who have been around since her Ellora’s Cave days.