Very Much Alive, by Dana Marie Bell
The first title in Ms Bell’s True Destiny series, Very Much Alive definitely caught me and didn’t let me go. At some 220 pages, this erotic re-imagining of the Norse myth of Loki and Baldur managed to pull this reader in despite my best intentions to go to sleep early. Three hours later…here we are. And now I really want to know what happens to the rest of the cast of characters…
Please be aware that this novel is an erotic romance involving a ménage à trois, so if anything off the accepted norm of relationships between consenting adults bothers you, it’s probably better if you avoid both this review and the novel. As the publisher says, Warning: This book contains explicit sex, graphic language, some violence, and hot male/male/female action. In fact, it could be considered a religious experience. (I love Samhain‘s warnings, oh do I ever!)
Her destiny rests in their hands…
Kiran Tate and Logan Saeter have been on the run from Oliver Grimm for so long they’ve forgotten what it’s like to be free. Ending Grimm’s power games won’t be easy, but this time they have an ace in the hole. PI Jordan Grey, Guardian Investigation’s resident hot shot-and Grimm’s step-granddaughter.
Jordan Grey has her doubts when Logan and Kir show up in her office with a tall tale of how her step-grandfather has framed them for murder. And to top it all off, they’re claiming that they’re really the ancient Norse gods Loki and Baldur, and that Grimm is Odin!
When the two lovers see the sexy detective for the first time, stopping Grimm suddenly takes a back seat to seducing her into their arms. But Grimm never rests, and when his anger spills over onto Jordan, it sets them all on a collision course with a destiny that will rock their world…
The first thing the reader needs to know to enjoy this story is that keeping track of all the characters and their relationships with each other is not essential. Which is great, because a few too many of them showed up without a previous mention of their existence, did their little bit, left and never came back.
Seriously, there were too many characters for a book of this length and, even with the occasional info dump on Norse mythology, I was confused by the complicated relationships. Then again, most of the family trees in mythology are extremely complicated, regardless of culture, so I’m giving this one (mostly) a pass.
I really liked that the two guys were already in a well established relationship when the novel proper starts-and by the way, the prologue was most excellent, that’s what grabbed me and didn’t let me put the book down until I was done. The chemistry between Baldur/Kir and Loki/Logan was believable, as was their attraction to Jordan and how they both dealt with that.
Some of the transitions between scenes seemed a little forced, as if they were there solely to make ‘time’ pass in the storyline. In a way, though, that extra time (two days here, a week there, ten days over there) helped me buy Jordan’s change of heart regarding getting involved with a) two guys who are already in a committed relationship with each other, and b) hello, immortal Norse gods?
On the con column, the choppy transitions made it harder for me to really feel any true protracted sexual tension between the three main characters. With one big exception, I liked the sex scenes, but some of the action and some of the dialogue were also a bit choppy for me; I tend to skim a bit when I hit that kind of writing, but given the complexity of the blood and family lines between the cast of characters, I actually had to go back and re-read some of that.
I liked some of the secondary characters very well, particularly Travis and Val, even if we see very little of the first. The main villain may be just a little too villainous for my taste, but then there is a slight over the top flavor to the entire story, and in that sense he fits perfectly.
And hey, the very short epilogue is really good-it opens the door to many interesting possibilities in future installments for several of the secondary characters.
My biggest issue: in one sex scene, there is some anal sex wherein a) no lube, b) no stretching, c) no warning, and yet d) NO pain? (god or no god, ouch!) Sorry, my suspension of disbelief didn’t stretch that far. I kept wincing for the next several pages, even though the scene was over.
Weighing the good with the not so good, Very Much Alive is a 7.25 out of 10 for me.