Dare Me
by Leigh Ellwood, contemporary erotica (2005)
Phaze, $6.00, ISBN 1-59426-513-5


Dare Me starts off like a raunchy free-for-all erotica, only to morph into a very conventional and very average romance story quarterway into the story. Dare I say that I wish the author has continued writing the raunch because the romance story bores me silly? I wonder if the author has any intentions of catering to some niche audience because a very noticeable trend in this story is the pairing of men over the age of fifty with women barely half their age. Hmm.

Our hero, the fifty-one year old Cal Briscoe, is in love with Ellie, the girlfriend of his best friend Brady. Cal, Brady, and Ellie often have threesomes together with Brady and Cal getting closer to moving towards and past second base with each other. Cal's introductionary scene is straight out of something Jackie Collins would come up with if she doesn't fear lawsuits from her alleged real-life inspirations for her characters: he is going down on some current teenybopper starlet when her boyfriend shows up. Barely escaping what is actually a trap by this starlet and her boyfriend (the interruption is premeditated because this boyfriend loves sodomizing the hapless victim while the teenybopper starlet adores watching him deflower her victims like that), Cal runs into the comforting embrace of Brady and Ellie in what would have been a fun bisexual threesome romp if that spoilsport Cal isn't so sleepy.

Meanwhile, Ellie's friend Sue Carmichael uses Ellie's apartment when Ellie and Brady are away to photograph Sue's friend Lauren. Lauren wants some sexy snapshots that she can send to the man she wants in her bed, Jake. However, Lauren gets carried away and she and Sue end up on what seems like a thrilling new journey of pilgrimage to Sappho.

The whole story so far is so over the top yet so raunchy that I get ready to have a jolly good dirty fun time. And then, Leigh Ellwood decides to pair Cal and Sue and the whole story goes straight into the doldrums territory. While it is amusing for a while to see Sue nagging at Cal and hiding away his stash of feel-good drugs, I find myself wishing that Cal is getting busy with Brady and Ellie and that Sue is discovering a brand new side to herself with Lauren. Frankly, the romance between Sue and Cal is one-dimensionally dull, comprising of mistaken sexual romps and childish arguments, and this romance takes centerstage over everything else. The author has Sue deciding to sleep with Cal after her initial reluctance using a really flimsy reason (Sue remembers that he once helped her out so omigosh, he is really a good guy so she'll let him do his silly dumb male act while she pines after him now because people, remember, he's now a good guy - gag) and has Cal acting like a particularly obtuse twit who may be fifty-one but has the emotional maturity of a fifteen year old.

None of these characters are particularly interesting. They only come to life when they are discovering their inner bisexuality with other people. With each other, they generate the chemistry of two dead batteries. After all, they're both twits and it's not as if I care about what's in their brains, given how there's so little of whatever it is inside their brains in the rare glimpses I'm given into their psyche in this story. I want to see Cal scream like a baby as Ellie strings him up and whips him silly while Brady rogers him silly from behind. I want to see Sue barking like a dog and licking Lauren's feet while she makes Sue beg for a bone.

Maybe Ms Ellwood should really just ditch the romance and concentrate on the orgy. There's no shame in it, not at all, especially when I have this hunch that she'll produce better stories in doing so.

Rating: 70


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