Erotica

Twice in a row… and two for the price of one…

I am getting behind on my reviews.  Again.  Yikes!  So, while I hate to do this, I am doing it anyway.  I am giving you all another multi-book review.  At least I am sticking to the same author/series though… and it is only 2 books…!

I read a number of books by Setta Jay (thanks Netgalley for the ability to read a bunch of them all at once!).  The two in question here are Binding Ecstasy and Piercing Ecstasy.  And these two didn’t disappoint.  Picking up right where the story has left us, we see Bastian and then Jax respectively  find their mates.  And a few others too, but the primary stories are about these two Guardians and their mates.

The series seems to improve with each installment.  It was wonderful how seemless the world-building now seems to be.  The character development is on full display and we get much more of the characters with each book.  It was easy to find pure joy in the stories here – and the caveman behavior has toned down a little – not much mind you, but I guess that is part of what I get for reading this genre.

Some of the twists and turns in these two installments were pure delights!  And it was wonderful to see some ass-kicking being done by some of the females too.  Both of these books moved their own plots, as well as the plot of the overall series, nicely along.  It was such a relief to see the overall story arc be moved forward too.  To often series like these fall into the trap where the overall story arc is barely moved forward and a reader could skip most of the non-sex chapters and still not miss much.  I find it super refreshing that the characters continue to plot ahead and so does the story here.  We see some changes to the players, real reprucissions, the author isn’t afraid to take out the bad guys, and the steaminess is super steamy!  It is also pretty amazing that seven books in and there is still real plot that doesn’t feel all stretched out to just be a platform for the author to churn out books.  Series like these tend to take that wrong turn, typically about book 7 and these haven’t so far.  I can’t wait to read Divine Ecstasy!  True to their titles, both of these books were ecstasy!

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Caveman Guardian?

The second installment of the Guardians of the Realm series presented an interesting dichotomy.  The caveman nature of the primary male protagonist, Gregoire, was pitted against the independent nature of his mate Alyssa.  And it left me with mixed feelings.  I will preface things with the following:  I really enjoyed this book.  More that the first.  But boy, was I torn between loving the couple and thinking Gregoire was just too over the top possessive.  It was a struggle to not picture him all caveman “me Tarzan, you Jane”, fists banging his chest and being so chauvinistic that when I read the scene where he storms into a room and flings Alyssa over his shoulder it was just too caveman.  And it dulled a little of the romance for me.  Now, don’t get me wrong, books of this nature are more sex than romance.  But there is usually some, and we did get a little of it shining through so that we get to know the characters a little.  But that kind of behavior in such extreme quantities and intensity just isn’t appealing to me, so it dulled things a little. 

There was a remarkable improvement in the balance between the mythology of this universe and the story.  We got what we needed to follow the protagonists through the plot, as well as all the collateral characters, and yet it wasn’t so much that my head was spinning in confusion because I was getting an unnecessary information dump of way too many details.  It was much better that the first installment.  And, what a twist at the end!!!!  25797438Holy cow!!!  Didn’t see that coming!  And it was a delight to see that the author isn’t stretching out a villain into a caricature just to ensure that there are obstacles and tension for more books in the series.  It was refreshing and made me look even more forward to the following installments.

So, we see the antics of Cyril continue while the Guardians continue to try to protect the Realms and their respective inhabitants.  Meanwhile Sam and Erik need to complete their mating but Gregoire and Alyssa and their mating are the primary focus.  The battles continue and our family of Guardians continues to grow as they find mates.

Like with the first book, there is steam galore!  The explicit warning is again well deserved and there are plenty of steamy scenes to make up for the shift of a number of (formerly) beloved series’ shifts into “urban fiction” – what that really means is that they lose virtually all of their steam, unfortunately.  So, like with the first, if you are a fan of the paranormal and the steamy paranormal at that, then this is a must read!  Just prepared for some troglodyte type behavior to be fully on display.

What a Roller Coaster Ride!

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!

25797414 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!