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Thursday, March 17, 2011


Author: Tamara Hogan
Plot Type: SMR
Ratings: V4; S4; H3
Publisher and Titles: Sourcebooks Casablanca: Taste Me (2011)

     In the first book in this new series, Hogan sets the action in, of all places, Minnesota, where we follow the lives and loves of a group of preternaturals who trace their heritage back to a space ship from another planet that crashed into Earth some years ago. That space ship was filled with vampires, werewolves, valkyrie, incubi, succubi, faeries, and sirens. After the crash, the group formed their own society, keeping their true identities hidden from the mortals of the world. In this first book, the spaceship history is just mentioned in passing and is not part of the plot.

     In Taste Me, the male romantic lead is Lukus Sebastiani, who is a security expert, an incubus, a member of the Underworld Council that rules the supernatural community, and a hot and sexy man. His lady love is the beautiful, red-headed Scarlett Fontaine, who is a famous rock singer and a siren.  When Scarlett was in her late teens, she and Lukus had one spectacularly sexual night together, but in the morning he left her. Since that night, he has been avoiding her as much as possible. Scarlett, of course, thinks that Lukus left because he had second thoughts and or because she did something wrong, but in reality Lukus was ashamed of losing control and leaving bruises on her body (he's a really big, strong guy).  Lukus tells himself that he left Scarlett for her own good—typical macho guy.  As book 1 begins, Scarlett is back home after a year of touring, and the smoldering relationship between Scarlett and Lukus bursts into red-hot, crackling flames.

     Although the main focus is on the romance, a secondary plot line follows Lukus and his team as they try to solve the murders of several young women, one of whom is a close family member.  Future books will probably center on other romances within this group.  Several romances are hinted at in Taste Me.

     The paranormal characteristics of the characters are downplayed: no fangs, no shifting, no spectacular magic.  Lukus does have some weird incubus abilities, including a physical reaction (a stomach-churning taste of ashes in his mouth) every time the killer murders another victim.  Another paranormal characteristic belongs to Scarlett: her ability to enhance the emotions of others with her singing. Remember those sirens whose songs lured Ulysses and his sailors to their doom in Homer's Odyssey? Scarlett has that same type of talent.

     Taste Me is a classic paranormal soul-mate romance, with a couple destined to be together (even if they're initially unsure about that) and a plot that only slightly interrupts the ebb and flow of their romantic entanglement.  Scarlett is the more "normal" of the two. Lukus is an extremely controlling, domineering alpha male, and his responses to Scarlett are so irrational and illogical that he is almost unbelievable as a character.  Even after they finally fall into bed halfway through the book, Lukus keeps turning away from Scarlett ("for her own good"), and Scarlett keeps trying to pull him back, so sexual tension is at peak levels throughout the story. This series is for all of you paranormal romance fans who like your heroines cute and submissive and your heroes handsome and dominant.

     Here's how this World works for the supernaturals:  "...vampires' mythological aversion to the sun was simply because they were allergic to the sun's UV rays; ...incubi drew energy from the aurora borealis;...sirens had an affinity for water and waves;...werewolves were the only species capable of shifting physical form;...all of the species could breed with each other, and could breed with humans. And had for generations." (Taste Me, pp. 76-77)

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