I am taking a turn now, from the YA to the more mature side of things. That is, into what is probably classified as erotica – if the warning at the beginning of the book is the authority anyway. I picked up (through Netgalley, free in exchange for an honest review) Ecstasy Unbound by Setta Jay last week. And darn it, it was a roller coaster ride. Getting up that first hill was rough – all that anticipation of what was to come – followed by some fear as the car hesitates before plunging far and fast over the precipice into the heart of the ride… to be followed by an end that came all to fast, and a little (or a lot) flush in the face and sweat on the brow from all the excitement and heart pounding moments. There were also peaks and valleys, twists and turns, and moments when I felt I was hanging upside down and not sure which direction things were headed to next. So, yep, I felt like I had just stepped off Griffon (one of my favorite roller coasters, which is located in Busch Gardens Williamsburg). And I loved it!
The warning in the beginning was well warranted and deserved – there are definitely a large number of extremely explicit scenes, so if that kind of stuff isn’t your slice of pie, then this series probably isn’t for you. There is story around all the sex, but I’d say the book is split about 50/50 between actual plot moving “stuff” and sex. Since both of that “stuff” doesn’t scare me off I dove right in, despite the warning, and plowed through from cover to cover. And, when I got to the end, I was desperate for the next. (By the way, after book 2 I was even more desperate for the next. This is a review of the first book, however.) And desperate in a good way.
The first hill, the tough part, was tough because it was a fair bit of world building that was a little too complicated and the mythology mixing felt a little like migraine inducing strobe lights. It was hard to keep it all straight and the variety with respect to the different types of beings was overwhelming. This portion of the book, especially the prologue, set my expectations poorly as the rest of the story wasn’t so hard to keep track of. Don’t get me wrong, the world building is a must have. And, it needs the right amount of details so the readers understand the rules of the universe we are diving into. But all the Greek Gods, Hellbeasts, half man-half animals/shifters, demi-gods, children of who-ever, Guardians who aren’t related really but call each other siblings, different magical powers for each type of being, curses, exceptions to the curses, weird names… (and I am probably forgetting at least 2 or 3 elements here in this laundry list) well, it was all just a little overwhelming. The good news though? Hang on to your hats, the ride gets better. My advice – skip to the back where there is a glossary, when ever needed (I didn’t realize it was there until I finished the book, dang nab-it!) and don’t stress over learning too much of the mythology at first. Seems that the more time on the ride, the easier it is to be familiar with the rules of the universe we have.
Know that there are Immortals, Guardians, Magiea (magicians, essentially), humans and others. The Guardians are watch-dogs, good guys, and males (generally – there are a few female guardians too, but so far the males are the focus through book 3) in line to be mated throughout the series. There is a bad guy, Cyril, and he has a few minions too. And I swear, I pictured them as minions (yes, Despicable Me minions) from the start and it made things even more entertaining! Here, we get the first guardian to find his mate, Uri, and his mate is a demi-god, Alex. The pair come together and have to battle Cyril. I’ll leave the rest for the book’s page.
As the pair come together as a couple, things get awful steamy. Quite often. So, if you like that kind of reading it is quite enjoyable. Just be prepared to have a fan handy, or a cold beverage, or run the cold water for a cold shower…! Note, I thought it was a good enough read (and overall story arc) that I needed to get right back on the ride and picked up book two immediately. Boy, was I glad there wasn’t a long line (aka, wait for it to be published… yes, I am sticking with the metaphor!).
Ok… now for the low points. The “Island Temple of Consummation, Tetartos Realm”? Really? Yes, that is the bold line under the chapter 31 title. Cheese-y. Way too corny. Couldn’t there have been another name for the temple? I mean at this point in the story, we all know what the main couple is going to be doing. If the author intended that to be concupiscent or titillating, that was a fail.
And could we not have found a different word than preternatural? There are only, like, 50 synonyms.
The final thing I will note is that there were a few moments when the author should have used names instead of pronouns (and I wish some of the names for places especially were easier to “pronounce” in my head) as there were a number of sentences that dealt with multiple subjects and the use of “he” or “she” didn’t make it easy to decipher who the “he” or “she” was when used in the next sentence or paragraph.
Like all roller coasters, there we have one most important thing to deal with – did it get juices flowing and riders excited and wanting more? Absolutely! This was one of the with some of the most sexy-steamy bits I have read in a while. The author didn’t shy away from explicit scenes. And they were some of the more well done scenes I have read in a while. They were tasteful, even though racy. They were not given short shrift as their page time was well balanced with the rest of the story. And they were just dirty enough to be salacious yet totally readable without feeling like they were too much of a fantasy. Add to that the fact that the characters and story line were enjoyable and it was a roller coaster well worth the ride!