All Through the Night by Thea Devine, Suzanne Forster, Lori Foster, Shannon McKenna
The subtitle “Tales of Erotic Romance” is a bit misleading. Although the level of sensuality varies in the four stories, they aren’t any hotter than one can find in many a Harlequin. Straight, monogamous sex; nothing steamy enough that I would label it “erotic”.
Recommendation: Read the Lori Foster story, skip the other three. In fact, definitely don’t pay out money for this book. If you’re a big Lori Foster fan, you can get the book from the library or borrow from a friend so you
Satisfy Me by Lori Foster
Three female friends watch their male coworkers visiting the new adult sex shop that just opened across the street from the company where they all work, and they come up with a crazy dare. Each of the three has to reveal a secret sex fantasy, then go visit the porn shop and wangle a date with a man who matches her fantasy. Erica, who is recovering from a bad marriage and not dating anyone, reluctantly goes first — she announces she’ll find a man who is interested in spanking. Their conversation is overheard by Cameron, a manager at the company, who has been getting nowhere in his efforts to get better acquainted with Erica. He isn’t interested in spanking, but is willing to try anything to get Erica to go out with him. Unfortunately, Cameron doesn’t hear Erica explain to her friends her theory that a man who gets his fantasy satisfied by porno books or tapes or gadgets would not need to play out that fantasy in reality. She actually is appalled by sexy spanking and wants to be sure the guy she picks up would not try that with her. So when Cameron arranges to be standing in the shop aisle with a spanking video in his hand when Erica drops in, they are at cross purposes on what the other person really wants. Will their very hot mutual attraction overcome this little misunderstanding? (Well, yes, of course we know it will; the story is about the fun of reaching that point.)
Asia’s rapid conversion from being unwilling to get involved with a man to wild lust for Cameron is the weakest part of the plot, but within the limited length of a short story it is necessary to be able to accept an unrealistically fast development of emotions and actions. Both Asia and Cameron are sympathetic characters, and it is easy to like them. I found this the best story in the book.
It took me a while to figure out what bothered me about the other three stories in the book, and what it was they all had in common — besides the fact that I didn’t like them. Then I realized that the heroes in them were not heroic to me. These men were psychologically and by their actions “stalkers”. If I’d been any of these heroines, I certainly wouldn’t be falling in love — I’d be dialling 911, reasearching the state’s stalker laws, and filing for a restraining order. But then, I was standing in line with a gallon jug when they were giving out intelligence, and these three heroines must have been holding thimbles.
Stranger In Her Bed by Suzanne Forster
Kerry used to be a hot-shot software designer. Now she’s agoraphic, hiding out in her house, wanting no interaction with the rest of the world. Why? Well, she was mugged in her deteriorating neighborhood. And she doesn’t want to face her coworkers after an embarrassing incident where she made a pass at the man she didn’t know was the company’s reclusive owner. So does she do anything sensible like find a new job, move to a new house, or even start a Neighborhood Watch program? Nope, she refuses to leave her house and switches to a low-paying job at the same company, one that allows her to work from home testing new interactive software. (Clearly, her lights are on but no one is home.) Her only contacts are with the company’s Human Resources guy who keeps calling her and trying to talk her into coming back to her old job, the guy who rents the apartment over her garage and seems concerned enough to keep checking on her — and the seductive artificial intelligence in the new sexual fantasy game software she is testing. The last is the weirdest one. Kerry is practically hypotised by the computer voice, the game turns itself on whenever it wants, and the AI personality seems able to actually see her and know what she is doing and thinking.
Eew, the whole thing was just too creepy for me. None of these male personalities were at all attractive, although the AI was very sexy. The plot was too messy to make sense, Kerry was a flake and the resolution was totally fake.
No Mercy by Thea Devine
Regan and Bobby fell in instant lust when they were teenagers. Despite the fact that she was from the wrong side of the tracks and he was a spoiled rich kid whose parents hated Regan and thought she was just after his money, they got married. Didn’t last long, of course. Bobby was obsessively possessive and jealous, followed her around, couldn’t tolerate her talking to another man. Plus, he was lousy in bed. All Regan asked for in the acrimonious divorce was enough money to go to college. Bobby moved to another city to run the family businesses far away from his memories of Regan. Angie, Bobby’s sister, managed to stay friends with Regan through the whole debacle.
It’s now seven years later. Regan is a very successful commercial real estate dealer. Her boss Tony has been in love with her for years. But now Bobby is coming back to town — supposedly to buy and take over running the local newspaper, but everyone knows it’s really because he wants to see Regan. He comes to Tony’s company to help him find a new site for the business, and insists that Regan be his agent. They spend a lot of time in verbal sparring and physical groping. Tony is jealous, Angie is furious, Regan is snotty and confused (her elevator does not go all the way to the top when it comes to her relationship with Bobby), and Bobby is still possessive and jealous and controlling. He tells Regan that he’s spent the seven years they were apart “earning” her — for example, he’s gotten a lot more practice and skill at sex. Oh boy, wouldn’t you feel flattered that a man would do that for you? These two people display every symptom of teenage lust (including some pretty raw language), but I didn’t see one sign of love or affection or respect or caring.
Something Wild by Shannon McKenna
Annie is broke, out of a job, and escaping from an abusive relationship. She has her barely functioning old truck, camping gear, and a few dollars left when she decides to drive for days to get to a casino and try her lucky coin. (Already we can tell this heroine is a few fries short of a Happy Meal.) She notices a motorcycle following her on her trip — the guy has been on her tail for several days, although she hasn’t seen him at night when she pulls into various parkgrounds to camp.
Jacob is taking a vacation — riding his $50,000 Harley across the country makes a nice change from running his own company. He doesn’t know why he’s become obsessed with the pretty lady driving the truck, but he keeps following her and eventually approaches her in a restaurant. No, he doesn’t tell her who or what he really is. Yes, of course they end up traveling together and getting sexually involved. Before you know it, Jacob is telling her what to do, controlling her every move, has thrown away her camping stuff and dragged her to a motel. Does it make sense that Annie decides she’s in love with him, even though she knows she has to escape him? Is there ever any explanation for Jacob’s Jeckyl and Hyde psycho behavior? Is there any plot to this story? No, no and no.