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book cover Limecello’s review of Rampant by Saskia Walker
Erotic romance released by Harlequin Spice 1 Apr 10

I have an admitted weakness for witchy things, that I “blame” on L.J. Smith and her Secret Circle trilogy. I’m also drawn to Saskia Walker’s writing, though in this case something in the story just didn’t quite click for me. Regardless, the premise was too good to pass up, with what seemed to be a plausible story line, and something so very unique and interesting. I mean, it’s not every day you find an erotic novel where witches in Scotland are having sexytimes and doing naughty magical things, in every sense. Throw in a mischievous, notorious ghost, and you’ve got quite the party.

The heroine Zoë Daniels starts out with such promise… but after a while she just peters out for me. I realize the entire premise of the book is pretty fantastic. I’d have a hard time believing if I were in her shoes. However, in this case I didn’t really relate to her to that degree. Zoë is a very grounded, almost cautious person, and refuses to believe in magic, even though strange things are clearly happening around her, and she’s witnessed them and cognizant to the fact. This equated to willful stubbornness and denial to me, and that annoyed me. I suppose it was meant to be realistic, but I felt Zoë protested too much, and it became something of a painful refrain. “Oh no, there can’t be any such thing as magic – I’ll just forget the past 48 hours – and decide that Grayson is just employing machinations to make me have sex with him even though I’d gladly do it anyway.” So… yes. Zoë annoyed me. She does redeem herself a bit in the end, but at that point I really just wanted everything resolved. (And in her defense she does fear Grayson is just cozying up to her for the sake of his research, and he idiotically doesn’t clarify or dissuade her of that thought.)

Grayson Murdoch is a great hero, and yet a bit of a dolt. He’s incredibly powerful, with an impressive command of magic. Nevertheless that seems less than clear, and nearly contradictory at times. That, and he’s an absolute idiot when it comes to communicating with women. He knows what pitfalls exist, due to numerous similar occurrences, and yet the professor doesn’t learn from his mistakes. Nevertheless, he’s all in, going after Zoë, and protecting the world from Cain Devot. Lucky for him those tasks are parallel. Grayson is quite sexy and commanding, but seems to lose something in the space/time between his brain and mouth, as in he thinks something, but doesn’t say it. This affected how I felt about the plot (negatively) which unfortunately reflected back onto him. Maybe it was the first person point of view, and Zoë’s impressions of Grayson that made him seem so reticent, but I simply didn’t go for it.)

I had actually expected more of a twisted or tormented love triangle, but it was clear Cain was evil and bad news from the start. Zoë really only protests Grayson taking her away from Cain to be contrary. Cain seemed unbalanced, and consequently I couldn’t quite give him all the weight of the power and magic he was supposed to have. That would even have been ok, if it didn’t seem so much of the book was Zoë dragging her feet, and Grayson trying to dance around the major crisis by tricking Zoë into being useful, without her knowing how or why. I also couldn’t help but wonder why there wasn’t more suspicion about someone who had been alive for 200+ years in the same area, even with moving to different cities.

Ms. Walker is obviously talented when it comes to writing sex and heated interludes, and I quite enjoyed the juxtaposition of then versus now, with “flashbacks” to Annabel, and then Zoë currently. (That being said, while I appreciate the writing and language I didn’t love Annabel’s story. It seemed to wander and lacked a solid intent or purpose. For something so very grave, and seemingly crucial, what with Annabel essentially haunting people, the outcome fell rather flat for me.)

I loved the imagery and setting in this book. I could picture the sea side town perfectly, as well as the drive up the coast, and even the magic Grayson and Zoë (and the others) were performing. Ms. Walker writes it in a way that was so natural that I instantly fell into line, which might explain some of my frustration with Zoë holding out.

I do have to say I read this book during my slump, so that might’ve affected my enjoyment of it as well. This book offers quite a bit in one novel – and erotic novel that has both contemporary and historical aspects, and both in a very fresh package. The premise and characters are definitely memorable. I recommend this book if you enjoy Spice novels, or Ms. Walker’s writing.

LimecelloGrade: D

Possession is only half the fun…

The moment she arrives at her rented vacation cottage nestled in Scotland, Zoë Daniels feels it–an arousal so powerful she’s compelled to surrender to the unusually forceful carnal desires…with nearly anyone who crosses her path. Crawford Logan, the boat builder with the wayward grin. The devilish restaurateur Cain Davot, who seems to know more about Zoë than he lets on. And even her sexy neighbor Grayson Murdoch, whose eyes delve deep into her soul as he explores every inch of her body.

Yet there’s something unsettling about the way the locals watch her, something eerie about these overwhelming encounters. Zoë knows she’s not quite in control of herself and begins to wonder if there’s any truth to the legend of Annabel McGraw, a powerful, promiscuous eighteenth-century witch who once owned the cottage, and whose spirit is rumored to affect anyone who stays there. Zoë doesn’t believe in anything that even hints at the occult, but now strange visions are turning frightening…and only one man’s touch can bring her back to earth.

Read an excerpt here.