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REVIEW: Double Dare by Jeanne St. James

Cover of Double DareDear Ms. St. James,

This book put me to sleep. I mean, I’d had four hours sleep the night before I read it and I was in bed trying to nap, but srsly, this book totally put me to sleep. In the middle of (one of) the (many) big sex scene(s). This is Not Good.

Quinn (I could NOT get used to the fact that Quinn was a woman) had just been dumped by her boring-as-shit boyfriend of five years and was squeezed into a Pepto-Bismol pink bridesmaid’s dress trying to get completely smashed when she meets Logan, everything she thinks she doesn’t like in a man except she gets immediately wet for him. She comes on to him, he turns her down because she’s drunk, but takes her home anyway when he finds her trying to get into her car. In the morning when she’s no longer drunk and miraculously gets rid of her hangover between one sentence and the next, they go at it like bunnies. Then Logan’s boyfriend walks in. His big, black, athlete, well-hung boyfriend. Yay for stereotypes! They convince Quinn to come back the next weekend and try both of them out. She does, and they fuck like bunnies….

See what’s missing here? There’s no conflict. There’s no personal growth (although there’s a lot of growth elsewhere). There’s three people in lust, then love (so we’re told), but there’s no reason to have a story about it, except the fucking like bunnies part. And really? That’s boring when it doesn’t actually mean anything. Sure, they’re breaking a few taboos here and there (race, number of partners, etc.) but it’s bo-o-o-o-ring unless it MEANS something to the characters. Unless they have to struggle with something besides a completely under-developed superego (what will people think?) and some concerns about their parents (what would Mom and Dad say?) and a little bit of jealousy between the men, there’s nothing there, no reason for us to be watching them except for the sex, and yanno, sex like that IS just porn and is pretty boring.

And this?

“Am I your first black man?”

“Yes.”

He ensnared her cotton top in his fist and yanked it over her head, tossing it in the same direction of his own.

“Are you frightened?”

“Yes.”

She had on the black lacy bra she had picked up at the lingerie shop earlier in the day. She reached behind her to unsnap it, but his hands were there, brushing hers to the side. He skillfully unclipped the little eye hooks.

Her breasts, now free, peaked to hard points. Ty leaned in, but he didn’t touch them.

Instead he gave her a kiss that sent electric heat scorching through her body.

“Because I’m black?”

A shiver of arousal moved through her. “No. Because you’re too big.”

Did you really have to go there about race? I mean, really? Like having sex with a black man was something to collect? And the whole thing about a guy being too big for a woman’s vagina is anatomically a little silly. Babies come out of vaginas, yanno. We stretch. Unless he’s really monstrously huge like this guy around or this guy long (NOT SAFE FOR WORK, folks!), penises fit in vaginas, and while Tyler is supposed to be big, I don’t think he’s supposed to be as big as those two guys.

You also need to work on your dialogue a bit. I started reading because I enjoyed the dialogue in the excerpt online. But beyond that first chapter, the conversations are forced, boring, and seem to…well, peter out (harhar) when the action starts, because the point in this book is not the conversation, but the action, not the why, just the how. And like I said, that just put me to sleep.

Most of the book, to be honest, I was just wondering HOW did they do that? It was all about contortions and who put what where, rather than how they were feeling about it:

She slid back until Ty’s cock lodged between the crevice of her ass cheeks. There was no way she wanted to take him that way. She was still too sore from the first time; plus, Ty was much bigger than Logan. And Logan had been plenty enough.

She could feel the warm stickiness from his cock on her back. She leaned forward and barely brushed her puckered nipples against his abs. Just enough so they could both feel it. He clenched his abdominal muscles, and her nipples pebbled harder.

What? I mean…what? I still haven’t figured out what was going on here. Except you know what wasn’t going on? Emotions. Feelings. Any indication of what this all meant.

And then this was very odd:

Logan stiffened. He let her go and stepped back from her. “I’m not gay.”

Quinn turned and opened her mouth to argue, but quickly shut it. His expression was dark and closed. He had curled his fingers into fists, his arms stiff by his sides.

“If I were gay, I wouldn’t like women. I love women.” He shook his head, his hair sweeping against his face. He closed his eyes, took two breaths, before opening them again.

Quinn could see him visibly relax once more; his fingers uncurled, and his shoulders lowered.

“Quinn, I can see how you’d think we’re gay. But in reality, we’re bisexual.”

“Sorry.” She looked down at her bare toes. “I didn’t mean to upset you. This is all new to me.” That was an understatement.

Within two strides he had a hand under her chin and an arm wrapped around her back. He tilted her face up. “No, I’m sorry. I’ve lived with that stereotype for a long time.”

What stereotype? The one about how being in a sexual and emotional relationship with another man for five years might make people think you’re gay? As a bisexual, I do understand this issue, but really, I think Logan’s response was a little over-the-top.

Then again, both men’s motivations switch and change at the drop of a hat. Tyler is worried about Quinn coming between him and Logan, so he’s the one to suggest that they ask her to stay longer. Wha…? Logan bottoms to Tyler and realizes he hasn’t done it in a while, promising himself he’ll do it more, so he…exerts his authority over Tyler as top as often as he can. Wha…? Quinn isn’t ready to commit to her relationship with her “boys” so she stages a huge coming out spectacle at a Country Club charity auction put on by her parents. Wha…?

It’s book like this that are the reason they call romance porn for women. It’s illogical and silly, with cardboard cutout characters, bad dialogue, and weird bodily contortions. Every now and then the sex is hot, but mostly it’s just…boring.

Grade: D

Best regards,
-Joan/Sarah F.

P.S. Sod farmers?! Logan and Tyler are sod farmers? Rly?!

This book can be purchased at Loose ID in ebook format or other etailers.

Sarah F. is a literary critic, a college professor, and an avid reader of romance -- and is thrilled that these are no longer mutually exclusive. Her academic specialization is Romantic-era British women novelists, especially Jane Austen, but she is contributing to the exciting re-visioning of academic criticism of popular romance fiction. Sarah is a contributor to the academic blog about romance, Teach Me Tonight, the winner of the 2008-2009 RWA Academic Research Grant, and the founder and President of the International Association of the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR). Sarah mainly reviews BDSM romance and gay male romance and hopes to be able to beat her TBR pile into submission when she has time to think. Sarah teaches at Fayetteville State University, NC.

10 Comments

  1. cs
    Jan 13, 2010 @ 08:32:35

    Ah, one of the many many reasons as to why I don’t touch menage stories either M/M/M or M/F/M. I’m surprised you even got through it.

    Tyler is worried about Quinn coming between him and Logan, so he's the one to suggest that they ask her to stay longer

    Of course that’s the most rational thought one would have…??? I concur. What?

    ReplyReply

  2. L
    Jan 13, 2010 @ 09:00:09

    WTF?? People actually pay for her books? I’m surprised they’re not free on some cheezy porn site. I can’t believe you graded it as high as a ‘D’.

    I’ve read some very popular romance authors who also need to study basic anatomy and physiology, but the following is the worst I’ve ever read.

    Vegas baby!! Professional contortionist might be jealous here. She could feel the warm stickiness from his cock on her back. She leaned forward and barely brushed her puckered nipples against his abs. Just enough so they could both feel it. He clenched his abdominal muscles, and her nipples pebbled harder.

    Gads! How awful. I almost feel sorry for the author….almost.

    ReplyReply

  3. Chicklet
    Jan 13, 2010 @ 10:01:49

    I can’t be the only person who noticed that the cover design makes it pretty much impossible to tell that one of the men is African-American. Which seems odd given that the text inside apparently addresses that as a major issue in the relationship.

    (Not that this book doesn’t have a whole host of other problems, but that cover stood out to me)

    ReplyReply

  4. Nonny Mouse
    Jan 13, 2010 @ 10:09:44

    Do the abs in question belong to Logan, and the author forgot it’s better to use names than pronouns in a scene where there’s two or more people of the same gender?

    Because otherwise that’s just odd.

    ReplyReply

  5. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 13, 2010 @ 10:18:39

    @Nonny Mouse: Nope, the abs belong to Tyler. So, she’s sitting on his lower stomach with his penis between her ass cheeks and leans forward….to touch his abs with her nipples. Like L said: contortionist. Or he’s really really long and she’s really really tiny. Which wasn’t the case.

    ReplyReply

  6. Anion
    Jan 13, 2010 @ 12:54:36

    If you scroll down a bit in this post, you can see the (current) largest penis in the US, which is 13.5 inches when erect:

    http://phalliccymbals.wordpress.com/2009/05/10/penis-size/

    THAT is monstrously huge. And frankly, rather unappealing.

    ReplyReply

  7. Anion
    Jan 13, 2010 @ 12:55:37

    And another comment of mine lost to the spam filter. Perhaps because I included a link? Or because the site still isn’t remembering my info?

    ReplyReply

  8. Joanne
    Jan 13, 2010 @ 12:56:40

    You know — of course you do or you wouldn’t have read the book — this had the potential of really being a great story. I love the concept of the long standing relationship between two men and the new person they bring into it. Too bad it didn’t have any substance. Thanks for taking one for the team.

    Oh, and:

    “If I were gay, I wouldn't like women.

    Um. Really? There are no gay men that like women? No women? Okaaaay. Stupid.

    And totally off topic but the absolutely most overlooked and overused stereotype in all of romancelandia? The Ugly Bridesmaids Dress. Every wedding I’ve been to in the past 10 years had the attendants in black or beige or soft shades. Stupid

    ReplyReply

  9. Jane
    Jan 13, 2010 @ 13:11:23

    @Anion Possibly the penis reference? Dunno. Ask Askimet. That’s the spam filter we use.

    ReplyReply

  10. Anion
    Jan 13, 2010 @ 13:15:34

    @Jane Yeah, I figured it was something like that, but wasn’t sure about the site still not remembering me. No big deal.

    ReplyReply

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