Wicked Fantasy
by Nicole Jordan, historical (2005)
Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-345-46786-8


Finally, at long last, Nicole Jordan finally comes up with a book that doesn't come off like an awkward attempt at trying to pass off pointless sex scenes as Something Very Important To The Plot. While this book has a plot of some sort (don't worry, it's nothing important for anyone to worry about), the author has wisely stripped down the characters into minimal - anything more and they will be walking skeletons - and concentrate on writing sex scenes like nobody's business. Normally this would have me pulling out the "Hey! Where's the plot?" go-straight-to-jail card but I've seen Ms Jordan's attempts at creating "characters" in the past and it's not pretty. Or her attempts at creating "conflicts" which usually boils down to hideously painful big misunderstandings. Compared to those turkeys, this wonderfully minimalistic all-they-can-shag buffet feast is a joy to read.

Antonia Maitland, like many of this author's heroines, won't be winning any prizes at quizzes and spelling bees anytime soon but at least she doesn't have any of the tedious overused emotional angsts to annoy me. She can be stupid in the sense that she is the last person to realize that her fiancÚ is scum. When her father is killed, her housekeeper suspects that this fiancÚ, Baron Heward, is behind the "accident" because Baron plans to marry Antonia for her money. Who knows, maybe he will kill her too as a perverse form of honeymoon entertainment! This housekeeper summons our hero, Treylayne "Trey" Deverill, of the vigilantes for good Brotherhood of the Swords thingie, to help take care of Antonia.

Antonia doesn't like Trey much because she saw him naked once four years ago and while her heart (and other parts of her body) goes pitter-patter at the sight, she thinks that he is arrogant and takes too much liberties with his hands on her body. This time around she stubbornly refuses to believe anything bad about Baron Heward until Trey, when Baron frames him murder, in exasperation has to kidnap Antonia to take her with him as he flees and tries to clear his name.

Apart from some superficial "She's supposed to marry a nobleman!/I'm supposed to marry a nobleman" nonsense (none of which bothers those two when they are shagging left and right) and the suspense subplot which takes a backseat when the hormones take over, this book is pretty much pulse and pumps with plenty of heavy breathing and moaning thrown in. Antonia isn't too annoying - it's hard to be annoying when she's just a stick figure with big breasts and big hips - so that's good. Trey would be one of the stupidest heroes alive if this is a different book but here, he's good in all the areas that count, so there's that.

Free from painfully executed blunders in characterization and conflicts because this book has too little characterization and conflict to make any blunders in the first place, Wicked Fantasy is a non-stop fast-paced story of sex with just enough flimsy plot to keep the story afloat. The result is a campy and enjoyable tale that doesn't pretend to be anything more than a superficial but effective diversion on days when there is nothing better to do. When it comes to Wicked Fantasy, minimalistic lack of pretentiousness when it comes to literary merits is a virtue.

Rating: 78


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