Amber Quill Press, $6.00, ISBN 1-59279-414-9
Paranormal Romance, 2005
Our heroine Rhea (I am never told her last name), a researcher for a pharmaceutical corporation called Providians, is on a trip to the Amazon jungles to study… uh, something, I guess. When she and her entourage reach the village of the Huitoto natives, she is troubled when she manages to spot this tall handsome stranger that apparently only a few lucky people can see. Imagine her surprise when this person, Valos, turns out to be some Guardian to the Stairway of Heaven. What does he want with her?
Basically, this story should be familiar to readers of the paranormal subgenre. The heroine is a woman who has been hurt by a man she thought she loved. Her best friend and colleague is also the more out-going sidekick. The hero is naturally not just paranormal but also the one to give multiples upon multiples of earthshattering pleasure to our heroine effortlessly. These are familiar elements used many times in the past and Ms Leigh needs to be innovative or at least be a little different when it comes to reusing these overused characters and plot conventions.
For a while, the author almost succeeds. The atmosphere is vividly drawn and the set-up leads me to believe that I would be getting some interesting sexy romantic adventures in the tropical rainforest. I’m intrigued to keep reading. However, it soon becomes apparent to me that apart from his motivation to become a human, Valos is completely flat. He has no personality, I don’t really know why he is supposedly in love with our heroine, and while I can understand why a woman would be so fond of a man who specializes in delivering multiple orgasms as per the motto “Service with a smile and an OH YES BABY”, I don’t really get this impression that Valos and Rhea have any emotional bond to base a happily-ever-after on. Valos’s entire characterization is that he is this larger-than-life Stud of All Studs hero whose characterization rarely extends outside his bedroom prowess. Rhea is just that – a stereotypical heroine in need of some O’s who often doesn’t know what is happening to her.
Perhaps a little more effort in developing the relationship outside the bedroom would have worked wonders for this story. As it is, Stairway to Heaven just manages to sell me the concept that the heroine will have a great time in bed with the hero. Beyond that, heaven knows.