Guest Review: Desire After Dark by Jo Carlisle

Publisher: Heat (an imprint of New American Library)
Publish Date: Out Now (August 7, 2012)
How we got this book: Publisher

Excess has long been the name of the game for vampire brothers Aldric, Soren, and Luc Fontaine. Now, one of them will leave behind La Petite Mort—New Orleans’ hottest fantasy resort for uninhibited adults—and discover an undeniable desire of his own…

With his brothers Aldric and Soren under fire from all sides, Luc Fontaine should have stayed at La Petite Mort to take care of business. But the chance to get away was just too tempting—and what begins as a pleasant afternoon ride becomes a life‐ and‐death battle with a savage werewolf. The last thing Luc sees is a beautiful woman with honey‐colored hair—and a razor‐sharp sword…

As a powerful immortal, Kassandra has been tasked with guiding Luc into the afterlife. Instead, as she gazes into his clear blue eyes, she knows that the man she is supposed to deliver to the gods upon his death is her longed‐for mate. After centuries of loneliness, Kassandra is faced with the most terrible of choices—perform her sworn duty or lose the one destined to break down her walls and love her as no male ever has. She’ll be damned if she’ll let him go. But to save Luc, she’ll have to risk the wrath of the gods…

*Blurb by Goodreads*

This is the second book in Jo Carlisle’s Erotic Paranormal Romance series, Lords of Pleasure. However it can be read as a stand‐alone book. It contains a lot of explicit sex, including BDSM, m/m, menage (m/m/f and f/f/f/m) and non‐monogamous partners. Although the sex scenes tended to overpower the plot, I appreciated that they were presented in a (mostly) straight‐forward manner without a lot of purple prose.

Bottom line, I did not enjoy this book. I did not find the writing engaging, the plot interesting or the sex titillating. Mostly, I was bored – barring a few scenes that had me wishing for some mind bleach. Although even at that, it was tame compared to the books described in the recent eroticacock post. So, really, I should count myself lucky I didn’t find any flanges, hoods, double‐cocks or semen‐bloated abdomens.

If I could sum this book up in one word it would be: superficial. The story skimmed along the surface, short on detail, never delving into aspects of the plot, environment or character development that would help to draw me in. The tell‐based writing style kept me at a distance from the story. Kassandra and Luc jumped into the hard‐core sex before I even had the chance to connect with them so instead of the sex being exciting, it felt blase. At times I just had to chuckle, not because the story had humor but because I kept picturing a cheesy porno in my head where there’s some attempt at plot but you still know the little bits in between are really just to set up the next sex scene.

The foundation of the plot relies on the Instant Fated Mate Identification (IFMI) trope which has permeated the Paranormal Romance and related genres. I dislike IFMI for many reasons (although there are exceptions*), but mostly because it short‐circuits the romance. When the Alpha determines through some preternatural sense that someone is their Fated Mate upon first meeting them, it doesn’t allow for much relationship building. Especially since the Alpha gets all growly and possessive and starts making declarations of “You’re my Mate. You are Mine.” Really, where can a relationship go after that? If that ever actually happened and some strange person came up to me and said that, I’d be freaked out. Seriously. I’d be googling PPO request procedures and applying for a Taser permit.

In this story, so much of the “romance” between Kassandra and Luc depended on IFMI rather than having the two do any actual work. I kept wondering why these two even liked each other. I mean, you know, apart from the sex. From the moment that Kassandra had her IFMI moment regarding Luc, she removed him from his home world, wouldn’t allow him to return and placed him in a D/s scenario without prior consent. And he just went along with it. Even though she was a complete stranger. Because of the sex. Wait a… Obviously, I’m not thinking like a guy here. Never mind all that then…Luc was in heaven!

Beyond the IFMI trope and the sex, the story is a hodge‐podge of randomness. The non‐sex scenes only provide cursory information and are quickly glossed over. Large chunks of action are summarized or skipped altogether.

  • At one point, Luc goes missing. Kassandra looks for him for two days after which she gives up, turns the search over to her guards while she sits at home worrying and polishing her armor. Really? The mighty immortal Valkyrie gives up after a two‐day search for a Mate it’s taken her two millennia to find? Okay. As for this two‐day search, we know nothing about it because the story skips from Luc being suddenly kidnapped to a reference of “two days he’s been missing” after which she then stays home. And why do we have this plot twist in the story? Oh, right, so Luc can get rescued by and have sex with someone else. Silly me.
  • Here is an example of a typical fight scene: “Violence erupted. Fists began swinging, swords were drawn – and his rope was dropped. Luc ran like a f***ing deer.” That scene was really tense.
  • There is a finale scene involving werewolves that just sort of show up. It feels like they are thrown in there because the author needed a finale and, well, sure, why not have the werewolves face‐off with the vampires? While we’re at it, let’s throw some demons into the mix. Oh, and let’s make the odds really stacked against the vampires because that will up the tension factor. I was underwhelmed.

Luc sucks as a vampire. And I don’t mean that in a blood‐sucking kind of way. In this book, vampires are a bit on the wimpy side, supernaturally speaking. They do have the typical preternatural heightened senses of smell and hearing but don’t have the increased speed, strength or survival/predatory instincts. Or if they do, it isn’t evident by Luc’s actions. He does, however, have a superior refractory period. So, I guess that’s good. It felt peculiar reading about such an ineffectual type of vampire. The narrative described Luc as a worthy warrior, yet his actions didn’t reflect that image. When Luc is placed in difficult situations he freezes, lets someone else resolve the situation or runs. In the early encounter with the werewolf, he doesn’t even attempt to fight back. He just regrets not having brought a sword for protection. I’m thinking “Dude, you’re a Vampire!” Sure, he fights in the finale scene and if that had been part of his character development it would have made sense. Instead, it seemed the warrior in him just decided to show up at the end for that one fight scene after having been absent for the whole book.

I don’t want to spoil the final plot conundrum presented to Kassandra. However, I will just say it disturbed me how casually the narrative presented the idea of taking one’s life as the singular and inevitable solution to losing one’s Mate. This is a theme commonly presented in the PNR genre.

  • I can’t stress enough the importance of research. I am particularly annoyed when authors get simple medical facts wrong.In this book, the transfer of “antibodies” in a werewolf’s saliva causes death upon being bitten. That should be “antigens.” The antigen is the infecting agent and is a generic term for anything (bacteria, virus, fungi) that would stimulate your immune system to respond. Antibodies are protein structures used by the immune system to attack these foreign (meaning not part of you) antigens that have been introduced into your body. Although certain types of antibodies do exist in saliva, their transfer via saliva would not pose much of a problem.
  • For the sake of women everywhere, a man’s semen does not “jet” into your womb upon ejaculation. Your cervix is there for a reason. Yes there is a very small opening, but sperm actually have to fight their way through it and the conditions have to be favorable.
  • Now this one had me LOLing because of the lack of specificity. During a supposed tense (albeit short) hospital scene, a doctor at one point says “Let’s go, I want some tests done, stat.” I’m picturing his staff staring back at him waiting in suspense for him to specify what tests he wants them to get busy doing. Stat. Teeheehee. Next we get “They did tests, one after another, his body encased in that tube that took pictures. He couldn’t remember what it was called.” Ahahahaha. Now, I can understand how a character wouldn’t know what to call an MRI or CT Scanner, but because this description followed on the heels of the doctor’s vague yet urgent order for “some tests” it just sounded like the author didn’t know how to write this scene and decided to skip the research. And it’s really too bad because a simple search on “diagnostic tests for brain trauma” would have provided enough information to give this scene a hint of depth.

And finally, we come to, what were for me, some Mind Bleach moments.

  • Mind Bleach Moment #1: semen and cream do not a delicacy make. Throughout the book, the author used cream as a euphemism for semen – that did not make it sound delicious. But then when she mixed actual cream with actual semen and had people feasting on it? That was a no‐go for me.
  • Mind Bleach Moment #2: Have you ever had the experience where you didn’t realize you had a limit until you found yourself unable to maintain the necessary suspension of disbelief in order to get through a scene? Well, that happened to me during the erotic scenes involving oral backdoor play. Fingers playing around with the backdoor are one thing (although, hello? Could we get a little Purell®?), but when it came to the oral backdoor play…Um. How do I say this?

OMG! Please let there be a dental dam in this scene! Some kitchen wrap! A pre‐sex enema ritual. Something. Anything is better than the vision that is now stuck in my head. And please don’t be pulling toys out of that area and then immediately proceeding to chow down without washing that area off. Oh. Wait. That still wouldn’t entirely solve the problem here. Why? Because mouth parts have penetrated the anal sphincter. Blurph. It is generally accepted in Erotica Romance, heck even in just regular Romance, that protected sex is rarely utilized. But in this instance, it’s really not about protection from the usual per se. Eau‐de‐backdoor aside, it’s the reality that if you are going to engage in oral backdoor play without some kind of barrier, you are going to come into contact with some stuff (read: poo) that will likely give you a bout of the so‐called “24‐hour flu.” I’m just saying.

My rating: D

*Ok, so there’s an exception in Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series which I enjoyed despite the IFMI trope. I suspect that has more to do with her awesomeness as an author though.

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About Joy: Being a bit of a hermit, Joy’s love affair with reading began early on in life when she discovered the rich solitude that comes from experiencing a good story. When life isn’t busy intruding, she can usually be found holed up somewhere in her house with a book (usually on her Kindle), a cat or two and at least one dog curled near her feet. She is currently giving her life a complete overhaul (‘cuz hittin’ the forties is a bitch! But in a good way;-) and trying her hand at various creative endeavors including blogging (ok, so I only wrote this one blog article, but that totally counts!), maintaining her farm on Farm Story (yes, that is a creative outlet. Don’t laugh.) and finding ways to cook for her veggie family that don’t include gluten, grains, dairy or sugar (it’s not as bad as it sounds).

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