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REVIEW: Wicked Burn by Beth Kery

This review is reposted from December 2008 when it was originally released in trade paperback. I thought I would revive the review because the book is being released in mass market, four years later.

Dear Ms. Kery:

I had really been down on erotic romance as a sub genre for the past few months.   So much of what I had attempted to read was sex without emotion.   That type of story gets tired quickly and with many of the mainstream romances heating up, it seemed that erotic romance might be a sub genre that no longer fit my reading tastes.

Wicked Burn Beth KeryWhen I started Wicked Burn, despite the well written sex scenes that nearly singed my eyebrows, I thought that it was going to be just one of those  erotic romances because of the unrelenting sex scenes during the first third of the story, but serious relationship issues arise leading to believable conflict, character growth, and a very strong romance. This is a straight relationship driven contemporary erotic romance.

Niall Chandler  and Vic Savian live next door to one another in a high end apartment complex in Chicago.   They’ve been attracted to each other but haven’t acted on their attraction until Vic hears Niall being hassled outside her apartment one night by an over eager date.   Vic dispatches the date and the two embark on steamy encounter after steamy encounter.   The two start dating and it seems that there is little conflict to impede the two from moving foward to the inevitable happy ending.

Vic Savian is a prize winning playwright who has recently moved to Chicago and will be opening a new play. His temperment is hot and passionate (much like you would expect a playwright to be).   He is the leader in the bedroom. Niall is a bit of an innocent although she has good reason to be. She felt embarrassed by her reaction to Vic, like a rube. Vic doesn’t necessarily glory in her innocence, just her willingness and openness. Vic reads very earthy, almost animalistic, but he doesn’t try to pretty up his attitudes toward Niall or toward sex. Vic is very much a what you see is what you get kind of guy. For example, when he is nervous about the opening of his new play and doesn’t attempt to hide it, sweaty palms and all.   When he is confronted with an old flame, Vic admits that he not only slept with the woman but that he was in a pretty bad emotional state at the time.

“I slept with Eileen Moore years ago, Niall. It was after I went through an ugly breakup with a woman I was supposed to marry. I was dead drunk for almost six months after the fact. If you want to know the truth, Eileen probably thought of it as a series of pity fucks. I was damned pitiful, that’s for sure,” he said with a wry twist of his handsome mouth.

Because Vic is so open, the conflict is driven primarily by Niall who is the opposite.   She doesn’t really allow Vic very far into her life, keeping him locked out of her family and her past because she has a  very big secret. She hopes she can get rid of that secret before it affects her burgeoning relationship with Vic but her furtiveness outside the bedroom raises alarms in Vic. Ultimately, Vic finds that Niall engages in a huge betrayal and this brings up old hurts.   Vic’s own past has it’s nightmares. His light burns hot and bright and it always has. Sometimes he’s not sure whether his relationship with Niall is a healthy thing, but he can’t keep away from her. In many ways, for all his masculinity, Vic is the vulnerable one here.   Niall has some doormat issues and is definitely overshadowed by Vic which is why I can’t give the book a higher grade. She does not have the backbone of steel of the quiet heroine in Gateway to Heaven but I did find her sympathetic.

I can’t say much about Niall’s secret as it would be a big spoiler. Needless to say that her past is not letting her move on no matter how much she wants to.   I went on to read several other Beth Kery books and I found them to all be hot, although some I liked better than others.   I can’t help but think that the successful marriage of emotion and eroticisim will make Beth Kery a big name in erotic romance.   I know that this is in trade, but if a reader likes ER, then I think she’ll like this book.   B

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

31 Comments

  1. Meljean
    Dec 03, 2008 @ 21:39:13

    This is the second really good review I’ve read of this book today. I’m pretty much convinced — I’ll be picking this one up.

  2. Jane
    Dec 03, 2008 @ 21:44:19

    @Meljean: I hope you enjoy it. I thought it was really well done erotic romance and having read so many bad ones, I know that it takes some skill to craft a good one. I’ve read much of her backlist and she does have a skill for the very hot sex scene. One thing I liked so much about Vic was his earthiness but it wasn’t just in the bedroom that you saw it. He was very blunt and had a certain rueful aspect to his narrative. Vic isn’t a man that I think I could take in real life – too overwhelming – but in a book, he’s pretty compelling.

  3. ME
    Dec 04, 2008 @ 09:28:53

    This sounds like a keeper….I’m heading out to the bookstore later today and will look for this title for sure!

  4. Maddie
    Dec 04, 2008 @ 09:57:49

    Jane you sold me on this book sounds very good and worth the read.

    I do have to agree with you on the erotic romance. I loved reading them because they were romance with a kick in the sex department. I have given up one author recently who just seems to write smut romance this is when I the reader do not see a happy ending in the H/H romance, love or lust because what the author has just told via the story line is that they like having sex with each other and that is about all.

    Not sure what is going on in the E-Publishing world on the erotica front but it’s changing and not for the better.

  5. BR
    May 10, 2012 @ 04:26:14

    Im sorry, but I can’t get past Niall – its a guys name :( If she had swapped them around I could totally have gone for Vic as a short form.

  6. Ros
    May 10, 2012 @ 06:27:58

    @BR: I’m with you. I was confused just reading the review because I’d assumed Niall was the guy. Then I thought it must be m/m, but the cover pic says not. Why would you give your female lead a guy’s name and your male lead a common girl’s name? It would irritate me on every single page of the book.

  7. Praxidike
    May 10, 2012 @ 07:15:19

    @Ros:

    Why would you give your female lead a guy’s name and your male lead a common girl’s name?

    BECAUSE we are all hipsters and unique butterflies! Traditional names reduce our specialness!

  8. Ros
    May 10, 2012 @ 07:18:42

    @Praxidike: No child of mine is ever going to be a unique butterfly. That will be stamped on, hard.

  9. Jenny Lyn
    May 10, 2012 @ 08:25:11

    @Ros: I have to ask…the heroine in my current WIP is named Bond, after Lauren Bacall’s character in the movie The Shootist. Same reaction? I admit I’ve had second thoughts but I kind of like *unusual* names for women.

    On the review, I liked this book but not near as much as I did Release and Explosive. I have a Beth Kery Folder on my Kindle.

  10. Ros
    May 10, 2012 @ 08:31:54

    @Jenny Lyn: Bond as a first name? I don’t love it, I admit. But so long as you give the guy a ‘real’ male name, I probably wouldn’t have quite the same trouble remembering which is which. I do have problems with names – I remember one heroine called ‘Roane’ and literally every single time I read her name I had the same mental conversation with myself as to whether it should rhyme with ‘Joan’ or ‘Joanne’. I had to email the author in the end to find out. And I can’t cope with SFF names at all. Apostrophes in names give me hives.

  11. Tina
    May 10, 2012 @ 08:41:52

    This was the very first Beth Kery I ever read and it sold me on her as a writer that writes both scorching well done sex scenes and emotional romances. Of all hers I’ve read this still remains my favorite. Has this just been released in E-book version? I have the big, glossy trade size from when it was first published.

  12. LG
    May 10, 2012 @ 08:57:47

    @BR: Glad I’m not the only one who had issues with the names. It’s similar to my reaction to the review of Sterling Redmond over at SBTB – “Nicolas” as the name for the hero was fine, but “Sterling” for the heroine didn’t work for me and made me wonder for a second if, despite the cover, I was actually reading a review for m/m romance.

  13. Jane
    May 10, 2012 @ 08:58:48

    @BR: I liked the name Niall on the heroine. It fit for me.

  14. Elyssa
    May 10, 2012 @ 09:01:47

    I read this one a while ago but I confess I didn’t like it as much as you did, but I think the reason was that I couldn’t get over the “daddy” thing at all.

  15. Isobel Carr
    May 10, 2012 @ 09:21:11

    Niall is the heroine’s name? *blinks* I would have skipped it anyway, because Niall is my little brother’s name and there’s just something creepy about reading heroes that share his name, but as a girl’s name it’s just damn odd (and not in that boyish nickname kind of way, like Charlie).

  16. Jane
    May 10, 2012 @ 09:39:12

    @Elyssa – oh no, is our twin hood in danger? I wonder what you’ll think of Overseas. And don’t read Kristen Ashley’s Knight. That Daddy stuff is all over the place.

  17. Jenny Lyn
    May 10, 2012 @ 10:06:28

    @Ros:

    The hero’s name is Nathan so no confusion there. :) I understand your point though. When I read this book I kept questioning how to pronounce Niall. It can be a distraction. Personally I’m a fan of gender neutral names. I have a niece named Colby and she’s a tomboy so it fits her perfectly.

  18. Isobel Carr
    May 10, 2012 @ 11:32:53

    @Jenny Lyn: If you’re English, it’s Neil. If you’re Irish, it’s like the river Nile. I have no problem with gender neutral names, but Niall is not gender neutral by a LONG shot (unless you randomly rip it from the intertubes with no knowledge of its origin or ethnicity). Might as well have named her Angus or Hugo.

  19. Faye
    May 10, 2012 @ 11:41:04

    @Isobel Carr: That’s it- the search for a heroine named Angus is on.

  20. Maili
    May 10, 2012 @ 12:02:42

    @Jenny Lyn: In addition to Isobel’s comment: if you’re a Scottish southerner, it’s ‘Neil’. And if Scottish northerner, ‘Noal’ — same as the ‘no’ in ‘nought’ and the ‘al’ in ‘all’ — but since roughly the 1990s, ‘Neil’ or ‘Neal’ is preferred over ‘Noal’. Fun, eh? So many for you to choose. :D

  21. Isobel Carr
    May 10, 2012 @ 14:55:10

    @Maili: I’m always afraid to address the difference between Irish and Scottish pronunciations. I like Noal though!

  22. BR
    May 10, 2012 @ 16:03:34

    @Jenny Lyn: I could possibly cope with Bond if the name suited the character ie smart sassy modern girl, in the city, high powered job, higher heels etc.

    Couldnt do it at all if if was some floral skirt wearing hippy or mumsy type :)

  23. Juliana Stone
    May 10, 2012 @ 16:31:06

    Beth is wonderful writer and I think Jane nails her marriage of hotness and emotion to a T! I just read Gateway to Heaven, and loved it so hard….it was a great, great read.

  24. Tisty
    May 10, 2012 @ 18:22:07

    @BR: I know what you mean about characters names suiting them, but it is an oddly unrealistic expectation. After all in real life, you name a spud like baby, then have to wait to see if it suits the adult. horrible task really, and You do see some odd results, where names just don’t belong on the person wearing them. Why should charters have it any luckier than the rest of us? Thus speaks someone christened ‘Prudence’ who has made startlingly few wise decisions! A mother can dream I suppose.

  25. BR
    May 10, 2012 @ 18:55:49

    @Tisty: I see your point, and completely agree that naming a baby with any real intention of affecting the final outcome is a bit….hopeful :)

    Prudence is a normal name for a woman, Bond or Niall aren’t, and they instantly interfere with my immersion in the story. Not just me from the comments. If I am a writer potentially earning a living from people buying my books, don’t I want to ensure that they don’t stumble across something so basic and yet intrinsic to the story as the characters names?

    At least they didn’t have unnecessary ‘y’ instead of real vowels, or added apostrophes :) Should be grateful for small mercies!

  26. MarieC
    May 10, 2012 @ 19:14:45

    I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed this book until I read your review. Thanks! Now to dig up my copy (and all my other BK books)!

  27. Tisty
    May 10, 2012 @ 19:15:00

    @BR: stray ‘y’s. shudder. they should be outlawed in real life AND fiction!

    And I agree a jolting name can derail your reading of a story more easily that other issues, mainly because they are mentioned so damn often I suppose. I’m just more aware of responsibility of naming baby’s/characters, as I’ve been watching a friend name their bundle of joy, and I’ve been left wondering is it is fair to gamble that large on how your kid is going to turn out!

    And There is only one Bond (James Bond) in my head, and it is most defiantly male.

  28. MaryK
    May 10, 2012 @ 21:39:38

    This post didn’t show up in my feed reader. I happened to see it in my Recent Updates on Goodreads.

  29. Mary G
    May 10, 2012 @ 22:10:41

    After 3 years I can say it’s still one of my fave books ever and has survived the want to re-read test.

  30. Teri P
    May 11, 2012 @ 11:59:14

    This was one hot book and my favorite by Beth Kery. Names can sideline us, no doubt about that. After working in HR for a large health care provider, I learned to always ask “is this a little girl or boy” when employees called to add their precious new baby to their medical coverage. Honest, even if the name if Bob, never assume…..and since I taught phonetics system used in pronouncing names of our patients, I have come to the conclusion that maybe authors should do this in their books when they choose an uncommon name such as Niall, no matter what the gender. NIGH-al; NIGH-uhl;Neel;Nahl;Nohl;Nighl;NEE-uhl – you get the picture! There are some people will toss the book aside, just because the name infuriates them so. Why take that risk?

  31. Linda
    May 12, 2012 @ 19:15:19

    Wow, not my take on this book at all. Kery no doubt writes hot love scenes, but the book has nothing else to recommend it in my view. The characters are one-dimensional. (Hero = A-hole, heroine = doormat.) For instance, they have sex within five minutes of meeting. When the hero then makes a move for anal sex and the heroine is surprised, he yells at her for being naive and throws her out of his apartment. Then she spends weeks fantasizing about him and wishing she hadn’t shown her discomfort with anal sex. Huh? She’s the jerk because she batted at eye at a sexual demand from a guy she just met?
    In addition, the entire plot is a Big Misunderstanding. If they’d had one decent conversation to clear it up, the book would be 75 pages long. I also didn’t think the author pulled off the hero as an intellectual, well-read playwright. He came off as a stupid neanderthal. And near the end, when the heroine makes a revelation about a tragic event in her past, it’s skipped over in a blink and they’re right back to having hot monkey sex a couple of paragraphs later. If you are okay with reading hot love scenes and skipping the rest, buy this book. Otherwise, save your money.

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