Nightshade Collections, $0.99
Contemporary Romance, 2016
Back from his stint in Afghanistan, our hero Derek Schrizer decides to get a tattoo. Other romance heroes in his situation go ahead and start big bodyguard/security businesses with at least four other sequel bait buddies, but maybe Derek likes to start simple. He ogles the sight of a near-naked curvy babe who is sleeping on her front, dozing off during an intricate tattoo thingy that she has been coming to that place for for about a year, and imagine his surprise when he catches a glimpse of her face and realizes that she’s his hometown ex-girlfriend. Catalina Geldbach was his first love… the first of every-freaking-thing, but that was before he went abroad and came back a little lost about what he want to do next with his life. Will there be a happy ending to their second time in the saddle?
Of course there is, and I have to tell you – I waited for the shoe to drop while reading this one. Maybe there will be a secret baby, or some sexual “I WAS RAPED!” trauma that the author would pull out. I mean, many indie authors love to do this, under the assumption that readers who read on Kindle love it when tattooed bad boys shag rape or abuse survivors into screaming, healing orgasm. Who needs a shrink when the dude has a big thing – that kind of philosophy that these stories are built on, you know.
But no, this is just a simple story of two older, maybe a bit wiser and more mellow, and somewhat battered people reconnecting again. No contrived drama, no weird angst about sex, nothing. And it’s… a gorgeous read. I love how neither character is unrealistically perfect or gorgeous; there is a real, raw everyday person feel to them that makes them more engaging to me. Conversations are sweet and natural, and there are some sweet moments with her parents and other characters that make me go “Aww!” a bit.
And then there is the sex, of course. They are nice, and it’s just as nice how none of these characters have annoying hang-ups about sex. Sure, they may be exes, but they are okay with starting again and discovering the other person all over again, and of course they want to jump bones as well. There is a kind of down-to-earth simple-hometown vibe here that can feel contradictory when placed in the same story that has hot sex in vehicles and all, but the author makes the whole thing work. It is as if Pamela Morsi and Southern Man Beard Oil somehow had a baby here, and I like it.
The stories in the Curved Lines box set are all over the place when it comes to quality, but, so far, Hot Tamale is easily my favorite of the bunch. $0.99 is definitely worth it for this baby alone.