House of Sages, $10.50, ISBN 0-9753549-4-9
Historical Romance, 2009
The $10.50 price tag is for the digital version of Taste of the Devil. Yes, $10.50 for a pretty short self-described “full length novel” that is in PDF form. I read the print version of this book, which was released in limited numbers a while back, and right now the print copies are going for about $24.00 on Amazon. If you ask me, you’re better off borrowing or not reading this book unless you don’t mind spending that much money on cheese.
Because cheese is exactly what this story is. Spoiled, petulant, but silly Regina Thomlinson just wants to run wild and have adventures instead of conforming to the rules that dictate how a lady should behave in her time. She is saddled with an unpleasant guardian who decides to marry her off to Tyler Devon, who is said to be the biggest rake that has ever raked any garden in the land. She decides to flee… and ends up on board The Chameleon, in the hands of the Panther. He has “long, ebony locks” that “fell about his shoulders”, “a shadow of beard shaded his lower face”, and “eyes, the color of tropical blue waterfalls” that glitter “behind their fringe of thick, black lashes”. As you can see, a life of seafaring does wonders for your complexion. The story isn’t anything new or unusual, and I’m sure you won’t be surprised if I mention here that there is more than meets the eye to the Panther.
The thing is, this story feels as authentic as a Walt Disney production of Hook. The pirates here sure look like cartoon versions of a stereotypical pirate crew, and they behave more like happy seven dwarves than anything else. I half expect them to burst into synchronized dancing and singing at the drop of a dime, because the whole pirate setting is just so contrived. The pirate crew complete each other’s sentences, guffaw at each other’s wit, and generally act too self-conscious for my liking.
Needless to say, the heroine displays the intelligence of a pea. The hero is a familiar one: he’s another oversexed example of this author’s hero who only has to breathe to get women swooning and dropping their skirts for the jolly rogering. These two and the secondary characters all have the collective depth of a puddle.
But the make or break point of the story, I suspect, is the way Ms Joy overuses pirate colloquialisms and puns in this story. Even then, there are other technical hurdles to overcome. The author italicizes words at awkward moments and there are fragmented sentences galore. The whole thing is just screaming for an editor’s attention.
Taste of the Devil feels like a first draft created in a fit of delirious ecstasy after the author had watched those Pirates of the Caribbean: Johnny Depp Ate My Mascara movies two hundred times. Unless you are a rich person with a high tolerance for cheesy overuse of pirate-related colloquialisms and puns, I’d suggest that you avoid this one and seek out the author’s books with Dorchester and Avon instead.