Loose Id, $5.99, ISBN 978-1-59632-704-7
Sci-fi Romance, 2008
I’m puzzled. Why would a woman who writes gay romance portrays sex with a woman as something really disgusting? I don’t get what Nica Berry is trying to do here, because come on, Ms Berry, we are all here for the kinky stuff. Not one form of sex is better than the other, it’s all about one’s personal preferences, so it is most disheartening for me to read something written by a woman which portrays straight sex as some kind of torture comparable to something straight out of A Clockwork Orange.
Maybe Ms Berry is trying to create some kind of parallel to the persecution faced by gay people or something here, but my advice is not to aim too high with the social statements because this is, at the end of the day, escapist fiction. Save the social statements for the college newspaper, dear.
Set in the future, this story revolves around our hero, Marquez, who since he was eighteen was kept like a prisoner on the spacecraft Trafalgar. All men are kept in the men’s compound to service the women who run things as if they are brutal prison guards in some B-grade exploitative prison drama. Needless to say, poor Marquez isn’t just forced to sleep with these women, he is tormented, tortured, brutalized, eek-eek-eek, and more importantly, he’s gay, which is a big no-no because none of the women of Trafalgar are faghags who write slash fanfiction. Instead, they are all monsters who decree if these guys won’t shag them, these guys won’t shag anything.
Still, it’s hard to accuse this book as a reverse “Straight people, repent and go gay today!” deprogramming pamphlet for straight folks because some of the gay sex in this story takes place between our hero and a lizard-like creature. Yes, I did say lizard. But I am getting ahead of myself. After half the book has come and gone and I am treated to scenes after scenes of insane women torturing men for sex and pleasure and thugs taking advantage of helpless males, Marquez bonds with young Jared who will spend the rest of the story being hurt and helpless.
He and Jared eventually escape from Trafalgar only to reach a planet populated by intelligent psychic lizards complete with tails, scales, and reptilian sex appendages. Jared is dying and Marquez finds himself appealing to the kindness of these lizards. He soon finds himself attracted to the lizard Gharial. This leads the same old “bond, we must bond, shag me, shag me!” thing and… I don’t know.
Perhaps if you find Loose Id’s mascot Loowis or everyone’s favorite lizard-man S-S-Slothe too sexy for words, this one will make you go, “Ooh.”
But me, I think I’m more of a Lion-O person – dim-witted and all muscles, what’s not to like? – than a S-S-Slithe fangirl. Not that I am judging you if S-S-Slithe’s lisp forces you to change your underwear every time you watch the cartoons on TV, mind you. It’s just that I have handled snakes and lizards before and a long time ago I actually found myself face to face with a terrifying king cobra while giving some guys at the zoo a hand in locating that missing snake. Let’s just say that I was more intent on trying to say, “Uh, guys? I’ve found it, it’s over here!” without moving my lips too much to startle the cobra instead of going, “Oh my! What a sexy little charmer!”
My feelings aside, I find Venom’s Bond is a well-written and most readable story. I understand that this is Nica Berry’s first book and if she is a new author and not some old hand writing under a pseudonym, I’m really impressed. However, I’m not sure about the portrayal of heterosexual sex as something so twisted that poor Marquez gets a phobia of female contact. I’m also not keen on Marquez being the stereotypical “all whine, all the time” gay lead character, although given his experiences on the Trafalgar, I suppose he has earned the right to his emo badges. I personally find this story to be an interesting one, but the emphasis on sadistic tortures and reptilian sex make this story more of a novelty read than anything else where I am concerned.
I’m not saying that Venom’s Bond is bad. I won’t say it is not my cup of tea either since I have an actually pretty fun time reading it. I like the fact that this story gets a reaction out of me because I’d rather be disquieted by some scenes or be fascinated in an “I don’t know what to make of this” manner at other scenes than be completely bored by it. I’ll just say that I don’t find this a good romance as much as I find this a most interesting futuristic story with shades of horror. It appeals to a part of me that likes macabre elements, although I’m afraid there is not enough alcohol in this world that will make me find the notion of having sex with an overgrown lizard a sexy one.
So, after all that is said and done, I am most looking forward to what Ms Berry has to offer in the future. It will be interesting to see if she will top this one. As for you, you’ve been warned. This one isn’t for everybody. But think about it, folks. You probably haven’t lived until you’ve read a scene of our human hero performing fellatio on a lizard.