THE TWELVE HUNKS OF CHRISTMAS....on the third day of Christmas, my book club gave to me...another hottie heartthrob...(my favorite flavor eye candeeeeeee)
Having read much of Anya Bast's creative and spicy catalogue - both her paranormal romances (love, love, love her Elemental Witches series and am digging the Dark Magick series so far) and her erotic romances - I was very excited about this newest release, Jeweled. Anya does erotic romance very well, and her menage scenes are "hoo-boy" hot! After meeting her and getting the opportunity to chat with her at RAW for several years, I can honestly say she is a lovely, sweet person as well (with an insanely fab shoe collection!)
Anya Bast's Jeweled combines elements of fantasy, historicals and erotic romance. The combination works on many levels but getting there takes some perseverance on the reader's part. The world building and history setting supersedes character development at times. In a world that feels much like the French Revolution periods, just on the cusp of the Industrial Revolution, the disparity between the have and have-nots is readily apparent. The story really takes off about mid-way through and that makes the wait worthwhile.
Anatol rescues the self-absorbed, superficial Evangeline on the eve of a dark and bloody revolution. Together they learn to make their way, supporting one another until they fall under the safe wing of the revolution's leader, Gregorio. Evangeline's magical gift allows her to sense the emotions of all around her and direct it elsewhere. She shut her emotions down after being removed from her family at an early age and appears incapable of feeling love and other intimate emotions. Anatol has known Evangeline forever while growing up preparing for the Royal Court and has loved her for nearly the entire time. It becomes his greatest undertaking to help Evangeline learn to feel, to love. Before long, her strong emotions of anger and dislike for Gregorio evolve into lust, passion and love. Once her walls come down and she feels emotions wildly, her two men recognize that Evangeline needs both of them and they work together to be what she needs. As their bonds grow, Evangeline finally allows herself to acknowledge the passion and love between them as real.
Evangeline, Anatol and Gregorio embark upon a true menage (M/F/M) relationship wherein all the focus of the two men is on the woman. The scenes are spicy hot and entirely re-readable! Bast peppers the dialogue with sassy verbal foreplay once Gregorio enters the scene. Prior to that, Evangeline and Anatol developed a nice little romance but it seemed to lack something and once that final ingredient was found - voila!
Evangeline was decidedly not my favorite heroine of late - she felt very much like a petulant child who had to be told what to do constantly. This opinion, no doubt, stems from my obvious preference for strong, take-charge heroines and dark, understated wit. Nevertheless, I must say, I was pleasantly surprised when mid-way through the story things flipped from frustrating historical to spicy erotic romance! The plot pace was action packed through the first half but seemed to go nowhere, lots of riot scenes and moving about in order to avoid detection. Once the action slowed down, the characters became more multi-dimensional and the romance developed some power, heat...some je ne sais quoi! All I know is, this menage is definitely oh-la-la!!!
Always a fan of the lovely Anya Bast, I give Jeweled 4 Chocolate Covered Strawberries....a definite diamond in the rough (and diamonds are a girl's best friend after all - next to shoes, chocolate and wine!)