Sunday, February 10, 2013

Blind Blondie

Blind Blondie

by Scarlet Blackwell


Contemporary M-M romance/erotica. Sam is an artist and a heartless player who is not interested in a relationship. One day while he's out cruising in his car, he picks up Kieran, a blind hottie, and allows Kieran to think he's a taxi. Kieran is not amused. They are not off to a good start. Sam has no intention of getting involved with someone with a disability who needs his help. Kieran doesn't want any help, certainly not from Sam. But somehow Sam can't stop thinking about Kieran, and trying to get close to him.

This is more a short story than a novel, but I found it surprisingly enjoyable. Sam is a jerk, but a self-aware jerk, and his journey towards becoming a better person is endearing. Kieran is great, a winning mix of independent and vulnerable. His blindness is depicted fairly realistically, and the author manages to avoid the major cliches of blind characters. The sex scenes were good, sensual without too much purple prose, and there's a good balance of sex vs character development. I just wish it were a little longer, as the ending was a bit rushed.
And it's super devvy! The author really knows what details to include. A fair number of her other books seem to feature injured or disabled guys.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Passion Wears Pearls

Passion Wears Pearls

by Renee Bernard


Victorian-era romance. Eleanore Beckett is a prim and proper middle-class young lady fallen on hard times. Josiah Hastings is a frustrated painter, slowly losing his sight. When he runs into Eleanore by accident, he realizes that with her bright red hair, she is the colorful muse he must paint before he goes blind. But being an artist's model is not proper employment for a modest young lady.  How can he convince her his intentions are honorable? And what if she secretly wants him to take liberties with her?

I wanted to like this story, but I just couldn't get into it. If you are looking for a "wounded hero" romance this does not really fit the bill.  Josiah worries a lot about losing his sight, but his worsening vision does not actually impact his activities (except in his mind) until the very end, when he suddenly, with no preparation or training, develops magical blind person skills. He can "do things no sighted man could"! What nonsense. Eleanore catches on to his condition early, in a bit of clunky exposition, but never acts on or thinks about that knowledge until the very end. Even then, her only advice to him is to keep painting, even if he has to put his nose to the canvas to see it. Uh, way to help him adapt. There just wasn't enough character development for either of them dealing with his blindness to make for a satisfying read. Dev factor was almost zero.

I found the hero and heroine rather flat. Eleanore's big conflict is whether to give up propriety and give in to her desire for Josiah. But since it is a foregone conclusion that she will, it doesn't add much tension to the plot to have her agonize over this for pages and pages.

The quality of the writing is average for a romance novel, and the plot is strictly by the numbers. The historical details are pretty good, although there are several jarring lapses into modern language. There is a LOT of sex, so much so that it seemed more like erotica than a romance, as character development and forward momentum of the plot were often sacrificed to long sex scenes in purplish prose. All in all, I found it rather dull.