by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Dark-Hunterverse #1
Published on February 18, 2002 by St. Martin's Press
Genres: Adult, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Being trapped in a bedroom with a woman is a grand thing. Being trapped in hundreds of bedrooms over two thousand years isn't. And being cursed into a book as a love-slave for eternity can ruin even a Spartan warrior's day.
As a love-slave, I know everything about women. How to touch them, how to savor them, and most of all, how to pleasure them. But when I was summoned to fulfill Grace Alexander's sexual fantasies, I found the first woman in history who saw me as a man with a tormented past. She alone bothered to take me out of the bedroom and onto the world. She taught me to love again.
But I was not born to love. I was cursed to walk eternity alone. As a general, I had long ago accepted my sentence. Yet now I have found Grace--the one thing my wounded heart cannot survive without. Sure, love can heal all wounds, but can it break a two-thousand-year-old curse?
Julian of Macedon
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For my first crack at Kenyon’s books, I’d say this was average at best. Our story covers the curse-breaking of one Macedonian sex slave and a sex therapist who was scarred years ago by an incident with another man, leaving her with her own issues. As a whole, the premise worked well enough, incorporating elements of Greek mythology and ancient history into Julian’s backstory, a story that led to his imprisonment in a book. Grace’s meddling friend brings the two of them together and by then it was beyond clear how this book was going to go.
I think what made the story go by so quickly was the simplistic writing. Despite the overly cheesy lines that normally make me gag, I was able to breeze through Fantasy Lover in a few hours. And not on account of the characters. Or the plot, which had as many turns as a highway. Predictable and not exactly engaging.
Grace is a sex therapist with intimacy issues. I get that it’s the inciting point for the story — her friend says she needs to get laid, gets Grace drunk, and they summon a sex slave from a book. It doesn’t, however, make me value her as a therapist which is her character’s profession and comes up several times. I’ve heard that therapists also tend to have problems similar to those they treat and while I don’t know how true that is, it’s the only thing that allowed me to accept Grace’s. After all, she had sex once at 24, it sucked, and suddenly men are the bane of existence. A tad overdramatic.
On the bright side, she didn’t just jump into bed with Julian when he appeared so brownie points for holding her own against him.
Poor Julian. At one point Grace describes him as a lost puppy brought home and I couldn’t agree more. He’s seen more women’s rooms in his lifetime than… well, you get the idea. But it’s never his choice and he’s still guilt-tripping himself over what happened in his original time. His character had a lot more depth to it despite the surface “pretty-boy macho man” persona. Much of this came from the history lessons he provided intermittently that touched my mythology-loving side.
In fact, that mythology addition provided my reason for reading through to the end. I hoped to see more of its integration though was somewhat disappointed on that front. Though it gives me hope that the next books in the series will offer similar tie-ins.
Now, as a romance, I simply must discuss the chemistry between these two characters. Well, chemistry might not be the right word. Grace is self conscious about her body and doesn’t feel better unless Julian tells her how beautiful she is. Julian, son of Aphrodite, is written as the most beautiful man ever. The Greek god, one look and your panties have magically disappeared kind. So of course every time Grace looks at him, she gets all lusty and tries to fight it. He doesn’t fight it nearly as much, especially since he’s cursed to serve and please whoever summons him so I suppose there isn’t as much choice on his end. They get together several times, though never quite sealing the deal, and the scenes are hot. But that became an issue when the final moment came at the end and it just fell flat. All this build-up to the best sex ever and the scene was rushed and half-assed in comparison to the rest.
I’ll definitely continue reading the series to see where it goes. Selena, Grace’s friend, intrigued me as her fortune-telling powers seemed to have some warrant to them so perhaps she’ll get a story. I do hope that the remainder of the books live up to the hype surrounding this series but overall, not bad.