A cup of tea never goes out of fashion, nor do the kind of books that guarantee cosiness to go with it. We are, of course, talking here about romance. And Marie Lavender has a knack for serving it well.
As the author notes about the protagonist of Second Nature - a vampire, “All he’d ever hoped for, when you looked past the bitterness of fate, was acceptance. He had foolishly wanted to be accepted despite his supernatural flaws. And that just wasn’t possible.” That ironically is true for the very genre of romance in the sense that window of deviations allowed is rather slim. Readers around the globe are so invested in romantic stories on a sentimental note from the outset that little room is left for any dramatic manoeuvres. Unlike Scifi which allows unheard-of theatrics, Mystery which necessitates unforeseen twists or Adventure which guarantees unexplored arenas, Romance has to comply with specific human ideas of pleasure and love. For, these stories tend to our heart and are blind to all else, thus designed to bear an immense responsibility with a delicate touch. So there must be losses, a somewhat fairy tale approach, passionate lovemaking, an unquenchable thirst, a character both beasty and tender, and the joy of reunion. Perhaps no other element typifies this essence of a love story better than vampires do.
Second Nature opens with a woman managing the strings of loneliness, work, a new life and bitter past. Her first rendezvous with the blood-sucking hero, Alec, is sudden and something of a fantasy, despite teetering on lines of “consensual rape.” It leaves us gasping for more, and the author caters to that well enough in the chapters that follow. The story bears ample juice, thanks to a nice little teleportation power she has accorded her lead character, while the lady gets a more subtle but spicier power of reading the other’s mind. There is something that Ms. Lavender seems to be building towards that doesn’t come out in the open. And while the two lovebirds part ways momentarily and go through revelations of their respective past, the source of Desiree’s powers remains a mystery. Cue: Book 2?
Marie Lavender does not complicate her writing. The descriptions are just about sufficient and well spaced to allow us a vision of wall-and-wood that surrounds the unfolding affection. But she pulls us into the latter’s steamy sessions and doe-eyed discussions well enough to draw our focus on matters of anticipation. Yet, the beauty lies in her plot itself. It is well paced and simple, but shapes up the characters and their background to such an extent that one can’t help but wonder whether a larger set-piece is about to unfold in this series as a whole. Maybe I simply want that to happen. That is one area the plot can definitely improve upon and go all out on.
Regardless the status though, we have a story in our hands that gives us what it promises - a dose of mush and thrill.
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