Now, my friends…I’m going into uncharted territory. Actually, I’m kind of nervous about this review because…um, how do I put this without sounding like a complete and total prude? Aw, to heck with it.
I have never read a proper romance novel…until today.
I’m sorry, it’s just that I could never take them seriously. What kind of productive reading pleasure is there in reading a book whose essential plot points involve graphic sexual action? I realize that remark offends a lot of readers—including my best friend, who is rabid for the genre—but have no fear, because I’m proud to say that I finally understand where you guys come from. Well, kind of.
I’ve long been fascinated by the appeal of the romance market. The formula of an average woman finding love with a sculpted Adonis is almost too perfect and predictable. Why is the market so huge and profitable when every book is essentially the same story and the writing is sub-par at best? Well, the same way candy has its own aisle at the supermarket, the same goes for romance novels. They’re not supposed to be perfectly written, with three-dimensional characters and thrilling twists and turns. They’re safe, fluffy fantasies meant purely for a once-in-a-while escapist sugar high. I guess I’m one of those uptight readers who turn up their noses at anything not considered classic or groundbreaking, because, as everyone knows, I read mostly fantasy and that’s not usually escapist at all… Anyway.
With that revelation in mind, did I enjoy Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Fantasy Lover?
29-year-old Grace Alexander is a sex therapist who gets more than she bargained for when she summons a Greek sex slave named Julian of Macedon from an ancient tome. For exactly one month, from one moon to the next, he will be hers to command. But Grace, still feeling the burn from her last relationship, doesn’t see Julian as a boy toy, as much as someone to befriend. Julian is shocked and kind of offended that Grace doesn’t want him exclusively for bodily pleasure, but at the same time, not being commanded to perform twenty-four seven for a stranger might just be the breath of fresh air he needs…
I wouldn’t have picked up this book if it didn’t get such rave reviews on Amazon, which is something that pretty much any romance novel gets, I’ve realized. But nonetheless, for a romance novel virgin (I am coining that phrase right now), this one is not a bad place to begin. The erotica is actually pretty tame, compared to what other imaginations have conjured, no doubt. And there is some story between those scenes, something which the more prudish, serious reader in me appreciated—even if it is as convoluted and silly as a soap opera plot.
And that is the main reason I enjoyed this book: the melodrama is so enjoyably ridiculous. At times, I wondered if the manuscript had been edited for how many times certain details or metaphors were used. It wasn’t annoying; just, after a while, I didn’t care that there were some plot holes or inconsistencies—I was just having fun consuming the heaps and heaps of cheese this book provided.
Everything about this book is pretty harmless. Although Julian is a powerful sex slave, whose curse causes people to passionately love or hate him, Grace never loses control around him. She finds the will to resist his physical perfection time after time. She wasn’t the most interesting of characters, but she still had agency and I appreciated that. Although, Julian, despite having the most tragic of tragic backstories, was a teeny-tiny-itsy-bit annoying—at first. I know it’s part of his character to entice women into doing the thing with him, but I wanted to smack him when he persisted in turning everything into an innuendo. Granted, that did slow up a bit as we went on, but I appreciated when Grace smacked him for me—you go, girl!
I should note, though, that part of why I didn’t quite find romance appealing is because the sculpted god-like love interests aren’t attractive to my personal tastes. Though I will admit, the more I pictured Julian, the more I thought of the real-life Disney portraits you find on Pinterest and Tumblr. And, I’ll further admit, my interest in him was peaked when my favorite Disney prince’s incarnation popped into my head.
This isn’t to say I’m completely turned on to romance novels, if you’ll pardon the expression. I can definitely see why they have appeal, when the characters have some agency, and some attempt is made for a compelling story beyond the naughty bits. I’ve read other, better books that have made my heart pound and made me go “Aw!” and all that, but I liked the funny, melodramatic little ride it took me on nonetheless.
Note: I don’t own the pictures of Prince Adam. All rights go to their respective owners