Saturday, March 27, 2010

Review: Rampant by Saskia Walker

Note: I received this to review from netGalley.

Title: Rampant
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: Spice
Pub Date: 04/01/2010
ISBN: 9780373605422
Category: Erotica

The moment she arrives at her rented vacation cottage nestled in northern Scotland, Zoë Daniels feels it—an arousal so powerful she’s compelled to surrender to the unusually forceful carnal desires…with nearly anyone who crosses her path.

Zoë knows she’s not quite in control of herself and begins to wonder if there’s any truth to the legend of Annabel McGraw, a powerful, promiscuous 18th century witch who once owned the cottage, and whose spirit is rumored to affect anyone who stays there. Zoë doesn’t believe in anything that even hints at the occult, but now strange visions are turning frightening… and only one man’s touch can bring her back to earth.

First off let me say that I love this cover. You know how I'm a cover whore, yes, yes, I know. I just loved the earthiness and the beauty of it. It strikes me as both sexual and pure and yes folks, I believe you can be both ;)

The setting for this story is a small coastal village in Scotland and I do love those kinds of settings. The fact that the plot involved a rather heavy portion of magic did help to add to the ambience of the story.

I liked Zoe, our heroine, she's a city girl hailing from London who's come for a vacation and to unwind from her hectic job in the city. The minute she enters the village, odd sensations and things begin to happen. What I liked about Zoe is that she's practical. She's a skeptic and doesn't give into flights of fantasy, but as the evidence stacks up that something magical and supernatural is going on she doesn't freak out and go running into the hills. What irritated me a little about her was that it did take quite a lot of freaky stuff to happen for her to fully admit that ghosts are real and even after she became convinced she was somehow communing with a dead woman she had the devil of a time accepting that magic is real. However, she didn't dither too badly and she had a good sense of humor which were definite points in her favor.

Grayson, our hero, was handsome, powerful and intelligent. I had a little bit of a hard time with him in the respect the he seemed clinical and detached, even during intense sexual or emotional encounters. Now, don't get me wrong, I lurve me some cold and emotionally unavailable types (don't get me started on my massive crush on Mr. Spock) but I just didn't always feel that he was having sex with or interacting with her as much because he wanted her or that he wanted answers. Plus the fact that the spirit of a long dead promiscuous woman was influencing everyone made it hard sometimes to suss out his real feelings and motives, at least for me.

The story itself is a little heavy on magic and mostly on negative magic, though there are a few nicer practitioners, it felt like it was hard to tell if a lot of the people were supposed to be good or bad. I wasn't always sure if I was supposed to root for them or against them, like them or hate them or pity them at times. It made it hard for me to get a firm bead on an emotional response to the story.

Also, I have an issue with the fact that every woman who owned her sexuality either was a witch and/or prostitute or was under the influence of a witch and/or prostitute. I would like to see us move beyond the need for justification in erotica and romance for a strong heroine to just own her sexuality without being a bitch, ho, or possessed by one. Just saying. Zoe did come to grips with the fact that she's always had a sexually vibrant nature that was hidden under the surface and brought out by Annabelle but it then came with the proviso that it ultimately would only have come out because of her one twu wuv, Grayson. Ladies, hear me on this: YOU DO NOT NEED A MAN'S PERMISSION TO OWN YOUR SEXUALITY. I'm waiting for Romancelandia to catch on to this. I do give Zoe credit, she noticed that she was aroused a lot more than usual and doing things she wouldn't normally do, but at no point did she freak out to the point where she started losing her self-worth and thinking that she'd been somehow soiled by her experiences. I respected that, a lot.

Ultimately, the romance between Grayson and Zoe was nice, but there was always magic somehow involved and it felt at times like it was either pushing them together or pulling them apart. For a lot of the book, even Zoe wondered if she and Grayson had anything real.

The side story of Annabel and what had happened to her was fascinating. I didn't always know if Annabel was someone I should really root for, she wasn't always a nice person and she kind of invited the problems that came her way, but I found her so vibrant and mischievous that I couldn't help but fall under her spell and like her a lot by the end.

At times the book felt longer than it needed to be, but overall it was enjoyable and an interesting story of the beauty and ugliness of passion and love.

My final grade is a C+

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