Pros: Sizzling sex; doesn’t shy away from taboo topics
Cons: Hand-wavy “science” and cardboard extras
Rating: 3 out of 5*
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Here’s the deal. I recently read Alison Kent’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Erotic Romance, largely out of curiosity. Like many people I’ve held a fairly negative image of the quality of writing to be found in romance and erotica books, and some of the stereotypes they portray, so it was interesting to me to read Ms. Kent’s evaluation that these stereotypes are outdated. I decided to test the waters for myself.
This means that my review of Lora Leigh’s “Tempting the Beast, Feline Breeds 1” is my first ever such book review. So forgive me if it’s at all rough. I’ve reviewed hundreds of other books, but I’m just starting to feel my way through this genre and it’ll be a while before I can speak to it with any depth of genre experience. For the moment, however, I can evaluate it the way I would any novel.
Merinus Tyler is a reporter from a powerful family of newspaper folk, politicians, and even ex-military. Her new story, Callan Lyons, is the product of a genetic experiment meant to produce killing machines out of a blend of human and feline DNA. Tyler’s father was old friends with Lyons’ scientist “mother,” who has tried to hide him from the evil Genetics Council that would use him as a weapon. When Lyons’ mother died, a box of her notes found its way into the Tylers’ hands, with the proviso that the Tylers use all of their connections and influence to bring Lyons’ story to the world, hopefully making him untouchable to the Council.
But first, Merinus has to convince Callan that this is a good idea, and she has to convince her overprotective brothers that she’s the right person to convince him. More than that, she has an odd and extremely powerful attraction to Callan that threatens to derail her carefully-laid plans–and he definitely seems to return the interest.
Sexual Content and Genre
This is an “erotic romance,” or as the back of the book puts it, “romantica,” which blends a fully-realized romance plot with the full-blown sex of erotica. The author doesn’t hesitate to explore taboos or a wide variety of sexual acts and positions. Her sex scenes definitely sizzle, and she doesn’t mind using words many folks would shy away from using in embarrassment. If the sexual content in your erotic romance is important to you, there’s plenty of it here to keep you turning the pages! If you’re easily embarrassed or prefer your sex scenes tame, however, this is not the right book for you.
I liked the characters. Both of them are strong, stubborn “alphas” in their own way, and they butt heads realistically. I get fed up with unnecessary clashes between romantic leads very quickly, but I felt the differences between these characters and how they were resolved suited the characters and made sense. I also very much appreciated the fact that the author was able to create a strong, independent woman capable of standing up to a very dominant male without turning her into a petulant harpy or a foolish nitwit, as so often seems to happen.
What Didn’t Work
This is really a paranormal erotic romance, not a science-fiction erotic romance, despite the description of the plot. The “science” is hand-wavy and rather silly in places. However, it also tends to take back-seat to the better material. This is entirely going to depend on the individual reader’s preferences. If you can’t stand pseudo-science that isn’t realistic, this book will drive you nuts in places. If you can look past that in order to enjoy the main characters and their relationship, then it isn’t a big deal. (I was somewhere in the middle–it made things feel slightly silly in places, but for the most part I was able to look past it because the book made it worthwhile.)
The secondary characters also tend to be cardboard in nature–I’m thinking of most of Merinus’ family as well as, in particular, the scientist helping the Breeds survive, who just seemed… off, somehow, in his portrayal.
While this is book 1 in a series, it does stand alone. The epilogue clearly shows that there are loose ends to be followed, but there’s nothing to leave you hanging in frustration. Books 2 and 3 are already out, and I plan to review them as well.
*If you’re a stickler for detail and plot is your big thing, I recommend seeking out another book. However, if you’re looking for some really hot sex scenes, a couple of fun characters, and a rather nifty premise, I think this book is great for an evening’s reading. Call my rating a 3 for the former group and a 4 for the latter.