Note: Louisa Burton is the smuttier alter ego of
Patricia Rice. (Correction: Louisa Burton is the alter ego of Patricia Ryan. Sorry for the misinformation. — seton)
Plot: The first in the Hidden Grotto series. This book consists of four vignettes from the lives of 4 follets/mythical beings (an elf who also happens to be a transgendering incubus, a succubus, a satyr, a djinni) who have lived for thousands of years in a remote chateau in France.
Ramblings: This is straight erotica; not erotic romance or “romantica”.
Normally, regular erotica aint my cuppa since it usually features BDSM, which I have a low threshold for, and I usually find the treatment of the sex too detached and clinical for me to enjoy. Despite my avowed love of smut, I haven’t read too much straight erotica. Some Anais Nin. The Story of O. Justine by Marquis de Sade and My Secret Life. No Anne Rice Sleeping Beauty stuff (I did mention that BDSM scares me, right?)
I think Bantam is marketing HODD as “literary erotica.” When I think of literary erotica, I think of Anais Nin and to a lesser extent, Story of O, which was admittedly written in a lovely, clean style. HODD is not quite up to that level but it is an intriguing combination of smut mixed with various European mythologies and folklore, all done in surprisingly elegant prose (in a genre notorious for its laughably bad writing). I was just in the right mood to find it fresh and different.
The book starts in present day at the Chateau de la Grotte Cachee and features Elic, a 3000 year old Norweigian elf (think LOTR’s Legalos), who also happens to be by accident of mutation, an incubus who can change from male to female and back again. In a scene straight out of An American Werewolf in London (you can practically hear the bones cracking!), Elic changes from male to female and does his thing (which is to have sex with both halves of a genetically superior couple — not necessarily at the same time — and enhancing the seed that he transfer from the male to the female. Pregnancy is almost guaranteed).
The book then jumps to the 18th Century and the Hellfire Club, which is when Elic first meets Lili, a 4000 year old Babylonian succubus and the great love of his life. Unfortunately, with the way the mythology is set up, Elic and Lili can never consummate their relationship since Little Elic is only ‘happy’ around mortals. I am interested in how the author will resolve this situation, IF she will resolve it that is. Since this is erotica, there is no guaranteed HEA.
The third episode features the reclusive Darius, a shape-shifting djinn (genie). He also has the ability to become invisible as well as a miraculous healing touch. Darius hides away in a cave most of the time because any touch with a human compels him to fulfill that human’s deepest desires. An accidental touch with noblewoman who secretly wishes to be dominated and punished leads to the only flat out BDSM encounter in the book which was almost too much for me to stomach. I do find Darius the most compelling of the 4 follets and I am sure part of my affection for this book is because he gets the most face time after Elic.
The fourth episode goes back to 52 B.C. and reveals how Elic first came upon the area where the Chateau is and his part in establishing the long line of druid chiefs who still take care of the Chateau and serve the 4 follets to the present day. I liked how each episode was from a pivotal moment in the Chateau’s history and teased just enough about its complicated world to leave me begging for more. I hope Burton continues in this vein for the next book in the series, Bound in Moonlight, due 12/26/07.