Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: Devoured by Emily Snow

*This book is NOT YA

It's the title of this book that actually grabbed my attention. Yes, the cover is a stunner and that certainly didn't hurt, but the title makes me think of one of my Sealer's Promise characters, and without it I likely wouldn't have looked further.

This book is a bit of a departure for me. I normally focus on reviewing YA or the occasional adult urban fantasy or Paranormal Romance. Contemporary erotic romance, with some potential BDSM elements, is not the kind of thing that I would normally go looking for.

That said, the synopsis piqued my interest and the sample sucked me in like a pile of quick sand, and before I knew it I was doing the 1-click on Amazon. The rest, as they say, is history.

So the question is: did I "devour" this book, or spit it out like someone just tried to feed me peas? Read on and find out...

The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
Sienna Jensen had no plans to return home when she graduated college last spring—after all, her dreams lie in California. But when she discovers her grandmother’s Nashville home has been foreclosed, and the new owner has started the eviction process, Sienna has no other choice but go back to Music City. And she comes face to face with the flawed, gorgeous man she never thought she’d see again. The man who now holds the deed to her grandma’s estate.

When millionaire rock star Lucas Wolfe finds the outspoken redhead glaring at him from across a courtroom, he’s both infuriated and intrigued. He still can't get the night Sienna almost spent with him out of his mind, and the chemistry between them is as undeniable as it was two years ago. He craves Sienna more than ever. And just like everything Lucas hungers for, he’s determined to have her.

Now, Lucas will do whatever it takes to lure Sienna into his bed, even if that means making a deal with her: ten days with him, playing by his rules, and he’ll hand over the deed to her grandmother’s home. Though she agrees to the arrangement, Sienna is conflicted. Because of her duty to her family. Because of promises she’s made to herself and a past that still haunts her. And as Lucas’s game of seduction continues, and Sienna is introduced to his dark, erotic world and even darker background, she realizes that at any moment, she could be devoured.

*This novel contains adult situations and content*

Contemporary anything is something I've come to expect to read like a slice of life. I want to feel like I have invaded the main character's skin, like I'm hovering on her shoulder and getting to experience what she (or he, technically) is going through. In this regard, Devoured both succeeded and failed. I understand that we can't be with a character every minute of every day, but at times the narration's flow, getting us from one scene to another, felt slightly disjointed. More like what might be expected from a journal, perhaps? On the other hand, the experiences I did share with Sienna were conveyed through well written scenes filled with emotion, depth and conflict. 

The main plot--essentially, will Sienna give herself to Lucas?-- was very well done. The blend of conflict, sexual tension, hints of affection, etc. came together to make the connection between Sienna and Lucas lift off of the page and spring to life. From word go watching these two interact was interesting, which is a good thing because their interactions would make or break this book. 

I liked the build up at the start of the book, and I will admit that I never felt bored, but I must say that I feel that as the plot took off that Emily missed some opportunities to strengthen the story. The Sam plotline was relatively weak and unexplored, more could have been done with Cilla and we got no real closure (or anything) between Sienna and her mother, despite the amount of time devoted to talking about her. From what I've heard there is going to be a sequel, but if I'm looking at Devoured as a completed novel there are definitely ways it could have been a more solid read.

The Characters:

So often I hear people say that a 'heroine' must be 'strong'. And by the end of a novel, this is true: a heroine should grow in strength. But that doesn't necessarily mean the leading lady needs to start out this way. This is where I feel we find Sienna. She has a lot of good traits: she is compassionate, driven and smart. But for the most part, she's kind of a push over / people pleaser. I felt a certain level of kinship with her, and enjoyed watching her grow to stand up for herself without completely extinguishing the compassion and empathy her character started out with. I think this was very well done.

Enter Lucas, who seems uber confident and in control of his life, and who makes the perfect contrast for her. Luke is one of those multi-layered guys who run a gamut of moods and emotions: confident bordering on arrogant, use to getting his own way, unafraid to tell it like it is. Yet he has a past and secrets that might knock him down a peg, and he can have a softer, more vulnerable side toward Sienna, and loyalty toward his friends (like Sinjin) and this makes him seem very real and well rounded. (And utterly irresistible!) 

The secondary characters could be somewhat a mixed bag. Some, like Kylie, Seth or Sienna's grandma, were well done. Others, such as Tori, Cilla and Sam, could have potentially seen more use if the novel had been a bit more fleshed out. When they were good they were great, but when they weren't I must admit that they seemed to run the risk of being window dressing or a plot device. Those that weren't amazing did not so much 'break' the story; rather they failed to really enhance it. (I'm looking at you, "Sam plotline". The black moment and its resolution should have had a much stronger build.) 

The Romance: 

The chemistry between Sienna and Lucas is some of the best I have read in a romance of any genre this year. When I got to the point of reading the sample, the chemistry I sensed between these two is what made me decide to buy the book. And having read it, I feel this is what makes the book great. 

I've already spoken a bit about how the contrasts between Sienna and Lucas make their relationship better. Adding to this, I would also say that despite the intensity of their relationship and the nature of it, their being together actually seems to do good, rather then harm. Sienna becomes stronger, and Lucas has to look at who he is and how important that is vs. how important being with Sienna is. Is this a 'try at home' relationship? No. But we must always remember: romance is a fantasy. And if we are speaking in that vein, the passion and intensity found in Devoured is the stuff dreams are made of. The all-consuming need these two characters have for each other--complex, evolving and impossible to ignore--is the kind of emotion and energy that one might expect from a piece of music, rather then a book. (Which works really well, given the context of the novel.) 

This is an adult novel. There is sex. There are some BDSM elements, or at the very least, a need for control. When it comes to sexuality in fiction, especially within a romance novel, the question I always ask myself is: "Did it matter?" And here, the answer is yes. The intimacy between Sienna and Lucas is well done and never wasted. I did not find myself going, "Really? This again?", which is always a good thing. 

My only gripe about their romance is the "Sam" plot and the fact that it created the black moment. (That time in a novel when all seems lost.) It wasn't built up, explained and made a large enough threat. It felt kind of tacked on, rather then a natural extension of the problems already facing the characters, and that is a shame. 

In General: 

It's been a while since I've reviewed anything, and I'm sure some of you are staring at the screen and going, "What is this?". My apologies! I have several reviews backed up and they are going to take time to get done because, while I am typing 'some' now, I'm still trying to let my hands recover. 

Devoured is a book that I really enjoyed reading and I'm looking forward to reading more of Emily Snow's work in the future. If you are looking for an adult romance with memorable characters, sizzling chemistry and an interesting premise, this is for you. 

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