Sunday, 4 October 2009

Nauti Nights by Lora Leigh

For some reason I was hugely entertained by this novel.

The first reason was the mention of a ‘double cab black pickup.’ Just rolls off the tongue don’t it. I did a search on those words. Apparently Toyota make a model they call the ‘Intimidator.’ The inside is nice enough comfy but to be honest the ‘pickup’ part of it looked a tad small…barely enough to hold an average size hound dog. What I’d really like to know it a gas-guzzler? Are there still people who drive vehicles like that without a thought to cost?

Another reason was the portrayal of the bad guy, Johnny Grace. You mean a guy can dress up as a woman, walk into a detention centre, and not be laughed out of the place?!! But all in all he was an excellent home-grown traitor. I seem to remember one of the mothers of the Mai-Lai soldiers wailing ‘I gave the army a good boy. They brought me back a killer.’ Well. Here. The army gets a twisted human being to begin with. Johnny is supposed to be intelligent, he owns a successful small business…yet he hatches a plan that involves slitting someone’s throat, selling nuclear missiles to potential tangos, keeping a million dollars all for himself, and staying safe in his small town. All because he hates James ‘Dawg’ MacKay, the hero of this story. To whom he is related to in some shirttail southern way. Plus. This is the first novel I have read that features 4 gay ex-soldiers. All young too. Not just ordinary soldiers but all ex special ops or snipers or some special specialism.

I also liked the way the story started. With the heroine Crista Ann simply an innocent person caught up in a warehouse shootout through no fault of her own. And from there the plot and the romance slowly unwind. I particularly liked that Crista had a fairly uneventful childhood and hadn’t been attacked or abused like so many heroines in borderline erotics. It was the hero Rowdy who had the difficult family relationships. But I wasn’t fooled. Rowdy had quite a bit of inherited wealth. So well done Crista Ann. Although I don’t usually comment on the details of a hot erotic romance readers might like to be aware that the ‘innocent’ heroine accepts anal on her first night with the drunken hero. And likes it too. But don’t let that put anyone off from reading the story. It ends with some really cute heartwarming dialogue between the main couple as they affirm their feelings for one another.

On the cautious side. Readers should be aware that the whole earthshattering plot takes place in a small Kentucky town in the middle of nowhere where there are some really strange and some really poisonous family relationships. Happily there was not much screaming melodramatics and absolutely no hysterics between the main couple. But yes, the hero and his ‘special forces’ friends still come across as lunkheads seeing how they let Johnny play them for far too long. I even liked the set-up for the next book in the series…obviously featuring Natches. But I wasn’t too taken by the glimpses of his intended, Greta Dane. Who actually undergoes a name change to Chayna in the Natches book.

Now we come to the tough part.

I admit to reading the first novel in the Nauti series, Nauti Boy. About 9 months ago. I couldn’t review it at the time I read it. I didn’t have enough mental strength for that. It’s not that it is a bad book. It’s just that you have to have a strong belief in the Goodness Of Mankind in order to take the relationships presented to you on the pages. A. very. Strong. belief.

Here goes. There is a guy in it called Ray. He is the father of the hero, Rowdy and also the stepfather of the heroine, Kelly. That’s fine. Kelly is never harmed by Ray or Rowdy in any way. Except of course adult Kelly and Rowdy are the main couple. But at one point in the story Ray wishes he had married Kelly’s mom before she married Kelly’s dad because then Kelly would really be his daughter. So where would that put the relationship between Kelly and Rowdy? What’s more, Ray seems to have been involved in a threesome with Kelly’s mom and dad on more than one occasion. I just thought ‘Yuk.’ Or even ‘Poor Kelly. What chance does she have of forming a normal relationship with anyone.’

And in the beginning Kelly comes under a lot of pressure to be part of a ménage with Rowdy and his two cousins. And yes, Kelly IS one of those erotic heroines who has nearly been brutalised. I read with all the fascination of watching a cobra sway in the sand. I was quite amazed when Kelly, after a few awkward encounters with the three guys actually chose to say no to the ménage and yes to just being involved with Rowdy. In fact it was the character of Kelly that kept me reading. Although a lot of what she did was to compensate Rowdy for not sharing. The constraints of the novel meant she had to put out but really, she should have been given more time to regain her confidence after quite a nasty experience with the bad guy, particularly by Rowdy who kept saying he wouldn’t rush her. But he did.

A big deal was made in the novel about how Rowdy and his two cousins, Dawg and Natches were these really ace ex-marines who would protect Kelly from her homicidal stalker. But again the lone stalker who turned out to be a total geek kept getting the better of Rowdy and his friends. In fact in the end it was Kelly who distracted the killer whilst Rowdy, Dawg and Natches could recover from all three having been laid out cold by this lone geek. That was just ridiculous. Because the geek had only brief mentions in the story I felt cheated by the plot. His character should have been depicted a little more in the novel. He wasn’t a ‘Mr Big,’ just another crazy inhabitant of a tiny southern town. Crazy but very sly and cunning.

The word I would use to describe Nauti Boy is ‘interesting.’

So there it is. Two reviews in one posting. A bargain really.