Eastofoz's Reviews > Parlor Games

Parlor Games by Jess Michaels
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Jun 18, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: historical-regency, anthology, erotica, medieval, contemporary, time-travel
Recommended for: Readers who want some added spice to their romance but don't mind rushed endings
Read in July, 2009

It’s too bad this anthology wasn’t longer because the stories have the makings of some good stuff had the endings not been rushed. There are three distinct stories set in different periods with some spicy sex. Short stories (at least what I’ve read) often tend to suffer from the low word count and with these three you have a perfect example of needless “suffering” (!)

Jess Michaels’ story was the one I liked the least despite the fact that that’s why I bought the book (her full length novels are excellent). It centers around Arabella Nichols who runs a sort of club for adults but not necessarily a bordello. She’s been receiving threatening letters so she hires an ex-Bow Street Runner, John Valentine, to protect her. They get it on from the start to make it look like that they’re lovers and not that she has a bodyguard. There’s some exhibitionism, and a light bondage scene. One thing leads to another, the stalker mystery is given away early on and it’s a full-blown I love you suddenly. Limited development, repetitive and not enough dialog between the h/h to make for a likely couple. These characters also pop up in a scene in Michaels' novel Something Reckless.

In the second story by Leda Swann you have a real Victorian feel to the novel compared to Michaels’ regency. This one had the least “amount” of sex and was mostly a teaser story with the virgin heroine Sarah and a tabloid journalist Tom who frequents the pseudo-bordello she’s forced to work in for financial reasons. Sarah plays hot and cold and that was maybe because of poor characterization by the author seeing as some of the things she says to Tom seem out of character. Tom wants Sarah for himself so he pays to have her for a month. Basically she’s paid to tease him and play sex-like games in front of other patrons . It reminded me of Swann’s other anthology Sugar and Spice that had a similar parlor games theme but those stories were better developed and sexier.

The last story by Julia Templeton was the one I was least interested in, as I’d never heard of the author, but it turned out to be the best in terms of tension building. Terri from the present finds herself whisked back to medieval times and ends up with Brochan the reigning border lord hottie. He mistakes her for a rival clan’s daughter and decides to lock her up in his solar for revenge. Terri is all for it seeing as she just witnessed something nice and nasty with her fiancé back in the present so she’s quite willing to stick it to him. Brochan takes full-advantage of the situation and the two go hog wild. The sex smolders quite well and they manage to get it on here there and everywhere. No exhibitionism here just some good ol’ fashioned sex in a bed and in commune with nature (lol!) It’s got a very “I-want-you-and-have-to-have-you-now-ù*!$%!-dammit" feel to it. The time travel part though reminded me somewhat of Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor ---not very believable though in this story.

I didn’t really buy any of the I-have-fallen-madly-in-love-with-you HEAs because they sort of came out of nowhere. I think if they were full-length novels the authors could’ve had the h/h’s in other scenes leading up to the I love you ending and that would have been a more satisfying read. These three felt like steps were missing once you arrived at the end and you’re left wondering if you’ve missed some pages somewhere.
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Reading Progress

07/24/2009 page 1
0.33% "Hope this is good like the other Michaels books :D"
07/24/2009 page 93
30.59% "Well the first story started out well and then fell flat :(" 10 comments
07/26/2009 page 304
100.0% "Too bad all the endings were rushed :-/"

Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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message 1: by Dina (new)

Dina Great review, East! I also have a hard time with anthologies, there isn't enough room to develop the relationship between the H/h in a believable way. The few short stories I liked usually had the H/h being friends or at least acquaintances for some time before the story started, which made them more "realistic" - as real as things can be in Romancelandia, that is. PNR short stories also work for me because of the "mating" concept. Besides that, anthologies are tough sells to me.


message 2: by Auntee (new)

Auntee Very true. That's the main problem with anthologies--everything moves at a very quick (and often unbelievable) pace. And it has to, unfortunately.
Great review, East!:)


Eastofoz Thanks ladies :)

I'm all for the tension building but the I love you is unnecessary being that they just like getting down to business so to speak so why not continue along the same lines instead of giving a dumb unbelievable ending that can ruin an otherwise decent story (**sigh sigh**). Anthologies and I have rarely worked well together (lol!)


message 4: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 27, 2009 06:58AM) (new)

Great review, East! Pretty much nailed why I wasn't too fond of this book. lol I need to learn not to buy anthologies, because I rarely like them. LOL


message 5: by Dina (new)

Dina audball wrote: "I need to learn not to buy anthologies, because I rarely like them. LOL"

That's a lesson I should learn too but I'm hopeless...


message 6: by Tammy (new)

Tammy That stinks! I know you were really looking forward to this one too.

Great review tho. =)


Eastofoz Thanks ladies :)

Dina and Audball, we should start a support group for the people who buy anthologies even though the odds are pretty high that they won't like them!!!! I just bought another one recently too (lol!) 8-)


message 8: by Dina (new)

Dina Eastofoz wrote: "Dina and Audball, we should start a support group for the people who buy anthologies even though the odds are pretty high that they won't like them!!!! I just bought another one..."

I'm in, East. Will it work? Abso-freaking-lutely not, LMAO!


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm in!! But I'm thinking this support group is doomed from the start. LOL Now if only I could have my debit card deny purchases of Anthologies.... hmmm


Eastofoz HAHAHHA! What a sad 'support group' we'd make (!!) ;)


message 11: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn Bummer. The time-travel story sounds like something I'd like, but the rest don't. Thanks for the info, East.


Eastofoz You're welcome Kathrynn :)


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