by Dahlia Rose, paranormal (2007)
StarDust Press, $3.48, ISBN 978-981-05-7970-8
I love the title of this book. The Soul Mate's Curse, doesn't it have a nice ring to it? In fact, I wish there is a curse on all authors who overuse the word "soul mate" or "soulmate" as if a bag full of hundred dollar notes drops onto their lap each time they key in that word onto their work. I don't know, maybe these authors will hear the Righteous Brothers' Unchained Melody non-stop in their heads until they repent and promise never to use that word more than twice in their career.
Alas, the use of the word "soul mate" in the title and in this story isn't ironic. Oh well.
The curse is this. Our Valentino men - no, they are not cursed with that name. Look at the bright side. Their last name could be Fabio. Anyway, our Valentino men get this ability to spot their soul mates at first glance when they hit 30. Normally this means plenty of sex and babies, until a particular case where the father of the bride who didn't approve of the match went and spoiled everything. He was a witch doctor who laid a curse on the Valentino men for one of them daring to lay his grubby paws on his daughter - all Valentino men will kill their soul mates when their wolf nature takes over, usually before they spawn a brat on these soul mates, thus causing Unchained Melody to play in an endless loop as the Valentino fellow kills the soul mate and then in remorse kills himself. But, of course, the Valentino fellow always manages to get a spawn to continue their line right after they kill their girlfriends and before they commit suicide. Obviously no curse can get in the way of propagation. "My girlfriend's dead - oh no, gotta find someone to knock up before I knock myself out for good. Hey, which of you want to carry a girlfriend-killer's baby? No child support, baby (I'll be dead after you give me my last orgasm in this world, remember?) and you won't even get a cameo appearance in that kid's future romance story!"
Oh, and the curse can be broken after five hundred years, on the night of the Valentine's moon. Which turns out to be the year this story takes place, how fortunate. Our hero Lucas Valentino was spawned when some truly kind woman offered his father a pity shag when the man was grieving after mauling his sweetheart to death. I hope she made him bathe first to get rid of the blood and entrails before she spread her legs and told him to come to momma. So, Lucas, now that he's feeling the pull of a soul-mate or something on his big ramrod radar, is running to the woods to spare the poor girl the joy of being his dinner. However, destiny is not to be stopped, so our heroine Sonja Stone experiences a flat tire on her way to a cabin in the Appalachian mountains. Guess who she meets as she tries to fix the tire with her jack. And guess what she tells him as he asks her what she is doing with that jack.
"I don't relish the thought of being ass fucked in the cold woods."
And he was being quite polite, asking her what she's doing.
Lucas, the Sheriff of this area (which is called Destiny, of all things), is moved to think of Sonja as "feisty" because of that statement and more. I believe Ms Rose has a different kind of definition for that word from mine. My issue with Sonja is that she is often too confrontational in any given situation that she comes off like a parody of a "feitsy" heroine instead. Lucas is a pretty decent guy compared to Miss Trying Too Hard To Be A Thang here, as he wants to practice safe sex, doesn't want any kids, and doesn't want any soul mate either so that the curse will die with him. Of course, one look at Sonja and he knows she's his soul mate so there's nothing he can do to stop this story from being a cliché.
This story would probably be more poignant and romantic if I can actually find a romance here instead of two superficially developed characters jumping into bed at the drop of the hat. Or pants. Or whatever. If I don't groan at the way the curse is broken, because am I supposed to believe that none of those horny and super-fertile Valentino men in the past five hundred years could achieve that? If I don't scratch my head at the appearance of the ghosts of Pa "I Munched On My Girlfriend and Impregnated Some Other Woman The Next Day" Valentino and Miss "My Man Tore Me To Ribbons And Knocked Up Another Ho But That's Okay, I Love Him" Dead Girlfriend because I find myself wondering what the ghost of the broodmare, I mean, Lucas' mother is doing. Probably still trying to figure out why people are laughing at her, I suppose.
The Soul Mate's Curse is too short to do much in terms of story or characterization, but the deal breaker is the way the curse is broken. Seriously, that's just ridiculous. This book is lucky that I manage to sit through it laughing at how ridiculously over-the-top the whole "Must Make Magic Baby NOW!" nonsense is instead of doubling over in pain, because that is the only reason I am giving this book a 56 instead of something much lower.
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