Monday, July 4, 2011

The ‘IT’ Factor – Debut Author Tamara Hogan

Taste Me
March 2011

Book Blurb:

He wants her so badly he can taste it…

Ever since their tempestuous fling years ago, incubus Lukas Sebastiani has known that siren Scarlett Fontaine was meant to be his. But when you’re a sex demon with an insatiable desire, relationships are…complicated.

Her siren song brings men to their knees…

Rock star Scarlett Fontaine desperately needs a break after a grueling tour. But with murder and mayhem surrounding her band, and Lukas guarding her body, life is going to be anything but peaceful.

Every encounter between them creates more turmoil—and heat—until Scarlett pushes Lukas to the boiling point, and unleashes forces that go way beyond anything she can hope to control…

Rule Breaking:

For as long as I’ve been writing, there have been a few taboos preached to us to not even attempt to write because editors will not buy them: adultery by the hero or heroine, bestiality, incest, pedophilia and -- horrors upon horrors -- musicians/artists as the main characters. Hogan breaks this last rule and it’s a pleasant breath of fresh air. Her knowledge of the music business is evident on every page (or she did a heck of a lot of research) and pulls us right into the concert scene. I loved Scarlett’s ‘F’ You song list aimed at Lukas. She’s tired of his avoidance crap and gets in his face the only way a siren can – with her sex laden voice.

Sensory Detail:

This is where Hogan shines. Great description. I could feel the pulsing of the music in the club in the opening scene. This is followed by plenty of action and emotion for Lukas. His scenes give us lots of sensory detail -- people’s emotions have a taste and smell to him and death tastes like ashes. He can tell someone’s been murdered every time he tastes them, but doesn’t know who, where or how. This knowledge weighs heavy on his conscience. He wants to catch the killer before he strikes again.

The Villain:

The book opens with the villain’s POV. We know who he is right away. Some readers may be put off by this. I found it intriguing as Hogan showed us his conflicting emotions and internal battle. I almost came to care for him, understanding that he had little control over the beast within. I have to wonder if Hogan intends for him to have a book of his own. It’ll be hard to pull off. While he fascinated me, I’m not sure if he’s redeemable. After all, he did kill several people in his sexual rampages.


This is where the book falters. The conflict between the hero and heroine feels weak and contrived. Scarlett and Lukas had a one night stand back when they were barely out of their teens. Lukas walks out the next morning because he thought he lost control and hurt Scarlett (evidently she bruises easily), leaving Scarlett wondering if her inexperience turned him off. That’s understandable. They were both young. However, to allow this to keep them apart when they both so obviously want to jump each other’s bones again is silly. A simple conversation would have cleared everything up. But no, they go years denying their feelings for each other.

Lukas and Scarlett’s forced cohabitation also feels contrived. It’s another case of hiding the heroine away where she doesn’t do much but sit around and contemplate the hero. A big part of the problem is I didn’t understand the need to bring her to his apartment in the first place when he and his partner were already camping out at hers. He claims it’s to keep her safe but Scarlett herself points out the killer could be after anyone (their friends, family, and/or the Underworld Council). Plus, he leaves his sister behind (she’s Scarlett’s roommate) and his father (the head of the Underworld Council who lives in the apartment next door). Seems like he’d be better able to protect them all if he stayed at Scarlett’s place like he was. By separating them from the others, this is supposed to up the sexual tension. It does, but it gets tedious. As soon as they get to Lukas’ place, they acknowledge that they both want to have sex again and yet they spend another 2 weeks with him playing the avoidance/denial game. Ugh. Have sex already. Lukas playing the martyr for no reason got really old.

OK, so our hero and heroine are finally together but once the killer is caught after attacking Scarlett, Hogan tries to throw in a final conflict by having Lukas break it off with Scarlett because he feels he failed to protect her. The killer is in custody. Lukas knows he can make love to her without hurting her. They can begin their lives now. Silly reason for last minute conflict. Even Scarlett thinks so.

The Action:

The first half of the book has a lot of action -- from the attacks by the villian, to the crime scene investigation, to the rock concert and all the behind the scenes activities -- very well done. Made it a page turner. However in the last half I found myself putting the book down more often with the slower pacing, drawn-out sexual tension, and unnecessary scenes (Did we really need to experience dinner with the family? What was the purpose of that?) In the beginning, I found it fascinating to watch Lukas work with the police to help find the killers he senses. However, once he and Scarlett shack up, this all gets pushed to the background. We’re told he’s still working with the police to try to find the killer but we don’t get to see him in action. It was a lot of waiting around to see if the killer would strike again while he and Scarlett fought their feelings for each other. I would have loved to see the investigative part of the plot developed and shown more.

The ‘IT’ Factor:

If you can overlook the weak excuse for conflict between the hero and heroine, this is an enjoyable book. The use of rock musicians as the main and secondary characters was a refreshing change from all the other paranormals out there. If nothing else, I encourage beginning writers to read it to learn from Hogan’s skill of wringing a multitude of sensory details off the page. She’s a master at this. I was smelling mandarin oranges and tasting ash in my mouth by the end of the book myself.