Jamie K Schmidt, $4.99
Contemporary Erotica, 2019
Right, so let’s start this off by saying hi to Mallory Bryant. She’s on the run from her abusive, drug-addled fiancé David, but of course she can’t tell anyone because, as she admits it, she’s a victim created to be the perfect vulnerable romance heroine. Just imagine – a fiancé can turn her into a battered wreck on the run with no money, no clue, and no hope. What happens if she married that man?
Fortunately for her, her sister Colleen is this va-va-voom kick-ass woman who runs a resort where people show up to play the only kind of games romance authors know about when they fancy themselves purveyors of the erotic and romantic – the alpha male whacks, because he’s a man and hence, you know, has to be in charge or the story won’t be romantic anymore, and the heroine raises her bum up to receive the whacks and squeal in pleasure because in romance novels, women are born to be dominated or something like that.
Max Spencer, who is a Dom as well as a martial artist – maybe there are clients who want to be karate-chopped as a form of pleasure – is there to protect Mallory, on his employer’s request. How lucky for Mallory, as she can now sit back, get shagged, and don’t have to worry about distressful unfeminine things like thinking and making decisions anymore. It makes perfect sense: a woman who is on the run from an abusive relationship, to find succor in a relationship where she is completely dominated.
Mallory is my favorite kind of heroine – inconsistent and poorly written. She’s supposed to be a victim unable to tell people she was beaten by David, but the moment she meets Colleen, she blabs everything out. She is supposed to be scared of everything, but she instead sasses everyone, gets flippant, and behaves more like a teenage sitcom character than what she is supposed to be. After a few pages upon her arrival at Colleen’s Couture (which has decorations with Egyptian motives, go figure), she sees the toys available there and immediately goes into horny-horn mode. Of course she has to protest and whine at first, because heaven forbid that readers may immediately assume that she likes sex and hence is some kind of skank. Don’t worry, she’d be putting out soon enough.
Indeed, a huge chunk of this story is about Mallory’s initiation into the delights of the club. Personally, I feel the whole thing is a little too far-fetched to be believable, especially with this supposedly secret club having so many employees to the point that I doubt the place is much of a secret in the first place. Also, the sex isn’t that hot or envelope-pushing, I feel, as the author merely goes through the same old motions that other authors have done in order to earn the bestselling erotic romance author title. There’s nothing here that feels imaginative or new, just some scenes here and there followed by way too much exposition to let me in on what just happened in those scenes.
Still, Heat may be alright if only the author had ditched that stupid abusive fiancé angle in the first place. The portrayal of Mallory is way off for a supposed abuse survivor on the run, as she is way too flippant and upbeat – and horny – to be believable as such a character. This huge disconnect makes it very hard for me to get into the story, as instead of a tale of healing and finding one’s strength within, this story is more about Mallory being dominated into this and that position, and loving every minute. As the story progresses, she will giggle, get drunk, do stupid things, and then apologize to Max for her ditz-gone-wild antics. This is supposed to be an abuse survivor?
If I had my way, I’d retain the bulk of this story, but I would have the heroine willingly coming to the club to explore its sensual delights without any pretensions like being whacked by a guy and still manage to sass her way through life. No need of that stupid subplot that cripples the heroine and the overall story. If that were to happen, though, I guess then Heat would be another one of those “wide-eyed heroine getting boinked at all orifices, but it’s alright, she’s in love, so no whore” stories that are already saturating the market. At the end of the day, the author picked the wrong gimmick as an excuse for heroine to get the dee, and I am the one paying – literally – for this misfire.