by Laura Bacchi, futuristic (2005)
Phaze, $5.00, ISBN 1-59426-520-8
The Heart Of A Hunter shows some glimmers of what the author is capable of doing if she isn't trying too hard to be the second coming of Dara Joy, but I will need a microscope to find them. This very derivative "I was kidnapped by an alien and taken to his planet - but don't look for me, y'all, because we're busy shagging!" story is like a mechanical attempt to replicate the Dara Joy formula as much as possible and the result is a predictable routine read.
Raine Thompson has just lost a cheating no-good ex and she gets smashed at the bar as a result. When she is approached by a hunk claiming to be Asher Ter-Barron from planet Turma and he is taking her to his High Commander who wants to make her his mate, she is too drunk to do much other than to eventually come to this bright idea of making someone named Asher Ter-Barron her first notch in her grand plan to Sleep With As Many Men As Possible Before She Hits Thirty. I can see it now. "My first lover after losing my ex was this hot stud named Asher Ter-Barron... hey, why is everyone laughing and pointing at me?" However, Asher decides that, while he would love to have hot alien sex with her, he'd best not break the rule of his people that dictates adultery to be a serious crime. Can it be adultery when she's not married to his boss yet? Hmm.
Asher says that Raine is a hot property among his people because she's a Responder. The author doesn't explain clearly in this story what a Responder is, but I infer from the story that it is a description for what seems like a woman who easily attains orgasm. Insert your own "What use does a Responder have of a man then, hmmmph!" joke here. Can poor Asher finally get to sleep with a Responder? Or will he just stand by and hand the heroine over to his boss? And why on earth is our heroine so sanguine at the prospect of being sent to a distant planet where she is to be married to some alien military leader? I don't think a Martian would be so calm if she's being dragged to earth to be George W Bush's wife, so Raine is clearly a case of an unrealistic character here.
Towards the end of the story, Raine shows signs of having a spine and there are some amusing elements in this story like the aliens' love for chocolates, but on the whole, too much of The Heart Of A Hunter feels like a determined attempt to emulate the Dara Joy formula and pander to the fans of sexy futuristic space barbarian cliché. Hopefully the author's future works will show more of her own style and creativity instead of merely exposing the Dara Joy fangirl in her.
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