I’ve enjoyed Jillian Burns’ books very much in the past, but this one doesn’t really work for me. It might be that I was in the mood for something different, but I think the fault lay in a few other things, too.
I love books about Cajuns, and a Cajun hero set in New Orleans leaves me in clover, but the hero of this book doesn’t quite work. Rafe lost his parents at twelve years of age and grew up on the streets. After deciding what he wanted, he worked on the oil rigs and made enough money to buy his own bar in New Orleans, a vampire-themed bar that attracts tourists and local vampire-wannabees.
The vampire treatment is almost amateurish with goths, vamps and other characters lumped in as weirdos. Dyed hair equals evil, it seems, and she makes a point of telling us that Rafe’s hair isn’t dyed, although it is black. He has a tat, though, a rather nice one, and the heroine is not surprisingly attracted to it when she finally sees it.
Claire is a self-confessed geek. She has a doctorate and she works in Boston on cell research. She has frizzy hair and awful clothes. When they meet, she’s looking for her friend Julie, who has disappeared on the eve of their return home. At first not interested in her dilemma, Rafe nonetheless sees Claire safely back to her hotel. When she returns to his bar the next night, he believes she’s putting off the customers and so he reluctantly becomes involved.
This being a Blaze, they sleep together, sharing Rafe’s gorgeous bed in his tiny apartment above the bar. I don’t really understand why Rafe and Claire end up together. Rafe has a lot going for him, and Claire is so much the underdog that I can’t see what her attraction would be for him. Why would he look at the awkward geek who is disrupting his club twice? We are asked to believe that the unspoiled, unfashionable, larger heroine has an appeal past her sisters who at least try a bit harder.
Plus, the book is a constant succession of Claire getting into trouble in her search for the ungrateful and thoughtless Julie, and Rafe rescuing her. When they finally find Julie, she’s stupid, ungrateful, and thoughtless. She could have contacted Claire anytime, but she didn’t. And although one scene depicts Julie as being drugged, most of the time she appears completely in her right mind, and at one point she snaps out of the drugged state as if it never existed.
Claire is trouble, and I’m afraid I didn’t warm to her at all. Rafe is a standard Cajun who runs a vampire bar in New Orleans. The ground is so well trodden, I wanted Rafe to run a samba bar or for her to run the bar or something. The sex on the page is missionary and sweet, but certainly not too passionate or erotic. I would be happy with that, except this is a Blaze, and maybe there should be more. It certainly wouldn’t be classed as erotic. But I could have lived with that, had the story had more merit.
There are lots of disembodied body parts. Normally they don’t bother me, but in this story they are so prevalent that they became prominent. Hands caress, eyes wander, kisses trail all on their own, seemingly independent of their owners. Claire wears glasses, and I can’t work out if she is near-sighted or long-sighted, because sometimes she has difficulty seeing things close up and then problems seeing things further away. I’m seriously near-sighted, so I can work on detail and prefer to read with my glasses off, and like Claire I can’t wear contact lenses, but her problems don’t seem to indicate what she had problems seeing. Which is a little distracting at times.
There are a few sentences where I thought, “huh”? like this one: “He smiled and felt a surreal sense of peace.”
I couldn’t work out what is surreal about a sense of peace after a hot bout of sex.
Then later, we have: “she screamed and scattered for the door.”
One person can’t scatter. Or can they? Now, that would have been surreal.
This book is an ARC and came with a few formatting inconsistencies that I hope will be sorted out by the time the book is released commercially. Short lines and the odd capitalisation for no reason in the middle of a sentence. I can’t say it bothered me too much, but it does bother some people.
And the title. Why? Nobody relentlessly seduced anyone else. It’s about an odd couple pushed together by circumstance, who end up having sex and then a relationship.
At times it is a bit like Burns-by-numbers, so it won’t put me off taking a look at her next book.
Unrestrained. Unrelenting. And completely undressed!When her best friend disappears during Mardi Gras, microbiologist Claire Brooks is determined to find her. Her only lead is a bar called Once Bitten—a haven for the dark, melancholy and vampire-obsessed. And while Claire generally prefers science nerds over the Gothy children of New Orleans, something about the bar’s tall, dark and delish bartender makes her mouth water….
Bar owner Rafe Moreau is pretty sure that there’s more to Claire than uptightness and frumpy clothes. And as they delve further into the dark, seedy underworld of the Big Easy, Claire and Rafe turn to each other, discovering a sizzling hunger that won’t be satisfied.
But will one taste be enough?
Read an excerpt.