Liquid Silver Books, $4.50, ISBN 978-1-59578-491-9
Paranormal Romance, 2008
The Orca King II is a sequel to – what else? – The Orca King. I hope you’re not too invested in Marian and Big Tom in the previous story, because in this one Big Tom is single again (he’s immortal, poor Marian isn’t, so…) and this time he will find his “missing half”. Poor Marian, she must amount to only a quarter of Big Tom.
This is a problematic story for me because when it comes to the paranormal aspects of this story, I am lost. It’s a pity, really, because I have a feeling that I will have a blast with this story if the author has allowed me to catch up with her story. This is the author’s first gay romance, and I’m glad that she has avoided the stereotypical straight-acting jock and effeminate sensitive twink pairing here.
Our hero Big Tom is a shapeshifting god-like Orca creature. Women offer salmons and other gifts (don’t ask) in return for him taking on human form and giving them a most fulfilling sexual experience. When the story opens, Big Tom is punished by a greater power for one abuse of his power too many to become impotent and stuck in human form. Living as a human being in the Orcas Island these six weeks or so is boring the poor dear silly, especially when he can’t have fun and party, if you know what I mean, even on his own.
I’m not going to try to explain how he can get a reprieve from his punishment because it involves saving someone from some kind of “spirit of the serpent” inside him. I’m already too confused by the mythology to even want to try. Anyway, Big Tom initially thought that this person would be a woman but this person turns out to be gay baseball player (bring on the predictable jokes here) Devon de la Cruz. Big Tom is like, “Okay, so maybe I’m bi-curious. This can’t be so bad, right?” while Devon can only go pretty much, “Come to Papa, baby!”
Devon and Big Tom have a pretty good thing going here. They have a pretty enjoyable and fun banter and rapport network going. The author’s merry unwillingness to have her story conform to any gay romance formula allows this relationship to be a most entertaining one to read. The characters have that nice balance between acting like horny toads and talking about their feelings. There is no excessive psychoanalyzing here to make the characters come off like emo Goth girls wearing strap-on devices of doom. Come to think of it, I don’t remember pausing in my reading to think, “Hey, guys don’t talk like that!” at any point.
However, by the time our guys consummate their attraction, the story takes a very abrupt nosedive into a confusing paranormal jumble involving serpents, visions of women, and other things that really confuse me. It is as if the author is running ahead of me, her reader, to the point that I cannot catch up with her anymore. It’s too bad, really. I like many things about this story. The ending is so far-out and unbelievable, it’s something that only this author can come up with, I tell you. Of course, I’m cool with that ending because I’m a frequent flier into this author’s rather unconventional brand of imagination, but I can’t vouch for anyone else.
I want to like The Orca King II more but it’s more like a party full of strangers where I enjoy meeting the folks but I have no clue half the time what these people are discussing.