Monday, January 12, 2009

Soul Deep by Lora Leigh

ePublisher Ellora's Cave coined a new word when it began publishing its particular brand of romance: romantica. It means a romance story with explicit sexual encounters that still focuses more on the romance than the sex and doesn't really fall into the class of erotica. In all honesty, I'm not sure if it's a true division between two genres or a way to make erotica more palatable to the general reading public. I haven't really read anything officially classed as the latter, so I can't compare.

Ellora's Cave certainly isn't the only epublisher (or print publisher for that matter) that publishes these kinds of books, but they have the trademark on the word and they publish Lora Leigh. And Lora Leigh definitely falls into the definition of romance with explicit sex. The romance is lovely and the sex scenes are well written, but don't pick up this book if you don't want details and blunt words and terminology.

A friend introduced me to Leigh's Breeds series a year or two ago and I enjoyed the concept and outer storyline as much as the individual romance. (I suppose that reads kind of like someone claiming to read Playboy for the articles, but I promise, it really is true.) That general concept is that a group of corrupt and highly-placed individuals created a new race of humans by mixing human DNA with that of wolves or big cats. The resulting "specimens" were badly treated and have recently broken free. Their creators were killed, captured or have gone to ground and the Breeds are now trying to find a safe place for themselves in the world, hounded on all sides by curious people, human supremacists and the remainder of the Council who created them.

Each book I've read so far features a couple who find themselves mated, a biological imperative they can't resist (which is what leads to all the sex), and have to figure their way through this difficult way to start a relationship. Leigh does a very good job of exploring the idea of biology versus emotion as each couple tries to figure out what part of their attraction is biological and what part is truly about learning to love the other person. The plotlines are a little repetitive if you pare them down to the basics, I admit, but Leigh manages to create individual characters than make the books different and each one enjoyable.

After Soul Deep in the Breed chronology, she was picked up by New York publisher, Berkley, and that's pretty much where I originally stalled on reading the series, when she suddenly moved to the stories of two characters we had never heard of before and apparently dropped the over-arcing story of the progress of the Breeds in building a community. A little later, still publishing with Berkley, she went back to the initial group of characters. At that point, I was interested again. But being me, I still felt the need to read all the books and in the correct order. So I went back to the beginning and reread my Ellora's Cave books. I now have a short story and one Berkley novel to reread and I'm up to the new books.

Goodness, what a lot of preliminary information before I even get to talking about the book itself!

Soul Deep pairs human Amanda Marion with Coyote Breed Kiowa. Amanda's father has just become President and an important vote is about to occur on a law that will essentially give the Breeds the right to police their own and take the law into their own hands when they are threatened. Worried that if anything happens to Amanda, President Marion may not vote for Breed Law as expected, Kiowa has been asked to keep an eye on Amanda as a backup to her normal security. Unsurprisingly, her security is compromised and she is kidnapped. Kiowa resuces her and suddenly finds himself responsible for the President's daughter and not daring to return her until the hole in her security is found and plugged. Kissing her to keep her quiet, he sets their mating in motion and from there, everything goes to hell.

He and Amanda end up at the Breed compound, trying to figure out how to relate to each other (outside sex; they've got the sex party pretty much all worked out) and find out if they have a relationship outside the bedroom. Amanda desperately wants to know she might have loved Kiowa regardless of the mating process, while he, already sure that he was falling for her long before he kissed her, is determined not to let her go. Soul Deep is a short book (coming in between 45K and 70K words) so there's a lot of story, romance (and sex of course) to fit into a small number of pages. Leigh does it well, and while it requires the frequent romance novel requirement of suspending disbelief to accept that a couple can fall in love forever in a few days (something I accept is possible but don't believe is usual in real life), and this is an enjoyable story with a satisfying conclusion.

I never know where to tell someone interested in the Breed series to start reading. Each book is complete and this one could easily be read by someone who hasn't read any of the others, but there are a number of secondary characters who it helps to have met already in the previous books. If you don't mind explicit sex, I suggest trying Tempting the Beast from Ellora's Cave. If you'd rather have it toned down a little (but still hot), try either the short story in Hot Spell or Megan's Mark from Berkley. Or, if this one sounds interesting, start here. It'll work out fine.

Soul Deep
Lora Leigh
The Breeds, Book 5 (Coyote Breeds, Book 1)

Qualifies for: 100+ Reading Challenge, eBook Reading Challenge, Romance Reading Challenge


J. Kaye said...

If I am not mistaken, I have "Coyote Breeds" on my list for one of the challenges. I am first going to read KILLER SECRETS to find out if I like her writing first. That one, I have on the shelf. ;)

P.S. I LOVE Ellora's Cave. :)

naida said...

great review, this does sound good.
I havent read Lora Leigh yet.

Robin of My Two Blessings said...

I love lora leigh and slowly working my way through the series of books. Great review. True, They do get kind of steamy and graphic.