Reviewed: August 20, 2011
Genre: Erotic Paranormal Romance
Series: Immortal Realms, Book 2
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Formats: Kindle, Nook
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Red Sage Publishing Presents, an imprint of Red Sage Publishing, via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
Warning: This book contains explicit sex scenes featuring alternative sexual situations, including but not limited to light bondage, BDSM, M/M, and M/F/M. There are also scenes of torture and murder that may not be suitable for all readers.
Politics and cultural stigma forced the vampire Javier to leave werewolf Catherine two hundred years ago. For those two hundred years he's been an outcast, though a busy one, until the pressures on his endangered race and his need for Catherine push him beyond the concerns of societal restrictions. He tracks her to Egypt, where she's managed to insert herself into the fey king's group of sex slaves. Javier has no idea why she'd do something so utterly insane, but he's intent on getting her out of there and claiming her as his mate.
He'd left her without word all those years ago, and for a century she grieved, but when Catherine saw Javier in the fey king's tent, posing as a someone and something he isn't, she felt both terror that he'd ruin the plans to save the kidnapped were king, and a combination of renewed agony and fury at his abandonment. She's not a young pup any more, and for two hundred years she's served her people on the senate. One arrogant, overly entitled vampire with a hero complex wasn't going to make her cave to his false sense of superiority. Her goals were too important.
Both proud, both stubborn, and both focused on conflicting agendas, if Javier can't respect Catherine's strength and Catherine can't forgive Javier for the past, the future of both their races will be grim and the Council will be destroyed. Not that Javier and Catherine would see that come to pass. They'll be executed by a sadistic, power hungry fey king first.
Dark Obsession has several things going for it. The main characters Javier and Catherine were fairly well developed, though I wavered between liking Catherine and finding her annoying. I also found the supporting characters believable - if in the fey king's case, totally creepy.
What I liked most about this book, though, is the fact that while it is erotica, there was a fully developed storyline of conflict and resolution and the sex scenes made sense within it. For me, that's what sets erotic novels apart and keeps them from seeming overly gratuitous. There's a lot of sex in the book, of course, but it wasn't as graphic and explicit as I've read in some stories, and it fit with the characters and their situations. Though in warning, some of those situations were disturbing and the sex scenes reflected that, as well. Frankly, though, they weren't as disturbing as they could have been, a fact I appreciated.
The world building and exposition were way too sparse for me, though. The plot was okay, if a bit muddled in places and occasionally seeming at odds with previous developments, but I never got a handle on the backstory at all, nor the cultures of different races and the era of the setting. There just wasn't enough explanation. Because of it, I had difficulty plugging the events of the book into a world view of the society they were living in. In fact, I didn't realize until the book was over that it was a paranormal, not a fantasy. The setting was so foreign and the meager explanation of the council and the surrounding politics seemed so Romanesque that I had no idea that it was a contemporary setting. That's a problem, and indicative of the disconnect I felt for the book.
I wish the plot had a few more layers to allow for a bit more development between Catherine and Javier. The problems with their intimate past were dealt with in a perfunctory manner, though the issues themselves were belabored. I'm also not certain I totally grasped the significance of the fey king's accomplice. There were some aspects of his master plan that stayed a bit too murky for me.
There was also a very jarring moment towards the end when one of the bad guys acted totally out of character. Not only did the protagonists' response seem off, but the antagonist's assertions and actions were so far beyond the realm of believability given her development to that point that the scene slapped me right out of the story. That part of the book, as well as the subsequent events, seemed contrived and ill defined.
The good points of this erotic novel weren't quite enough to make this an okay read for my tastes, the weaker aspects outweighed them just a little too much. It's not horrible, though, and the writing mechanics are fine, but the concept for the plot wasn't fleshed out well enough for me, and the nearly non-existent world building and exposition were the weakest points of the book. I'd probably recommend it for only the most ardent erotic romance fans. It didn't quite work for me.
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