Vancouver resident Shelley Aikens debuts with an erotic romance featuring a librarian heroine. Super hot love scenes with a Northwest setting and a librarian? I had to pick it up! I look forward to future releases from Aikens as she has tons of promise!
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Aikens brings a lovely,vibrant voice to Romantica (although I think this particular story would be best classified as erotic chick-lit with romantic elements), and if you love Sasha White, you will definitely want to check her out as she has a lot of the same elements going for her--Vancouver setting, first-person narrator, fast moving plot, and lots and lots of hot no-holds barred love scenes. I struggled with what to rate this because I loved all those elements, and I plan to look for Aikens' future releases as I do absolutely love her voice. However, I would have liked to have seen more plot tying together the love scenes, and more time spent on the slow development of Mandy's relationship with James. Love scenes work best for me when they are in the context of a greater plot and necessary for character growth and development. Super-hot is awesome, but even within erotica, plot makes all the difference. Also, I had major issues with a few of the love scenes as Mandy's consent seemed murky at best. And yes, I think that was part of the fantasy for Mandy, but it just doesn't work for me. If you have an independent, spunky, contemporary heroine, I, personally, want her to be fully on-board for what happens to her, and if she's voluntarily giving up control, that needs to be clearly consensual too. There were a few scenes here where the action kept coming despite Mandy saying no, and I wasn't cool with that. My other similar quibble is that even in erotic romance, I still like to see safe sex--I know there are plenty who disagree, but it really takes me out of a story to have to worry about the riskiness of characters' actions. As this is Aikens's debut, I'm really excited to watch her grow her considerable talent--if she adds more complex plots and characterization like Sasha White, Maya Banks, and Megan Hart, she will be a major force in erotic romance.