Crave
by Cathy Yardley, contemporary (2008)
Avon Red, $13.95, ISBN 978-0-06-137607-8


Crave, subtitled The Seduction Of Snow White, is a very slim and therefore, in my opinion, overpriced erotic contemporary romance featuring an updated take on the Snow White fairytale. There are no seven dwarves here but there is enough ridiculous melodrama to make me scratch my head a few times as I read the story.

Beth Cordova is actually a princess of a faraway kingdom thought by the rest of the world as dead. Since she was seventeen, she has taken refuge in an American community called the Compound. Here, the folks live like "the good old days" where men toil the soils as the women clean and cook. Comparisons are made by Ms Yardley to the Quakers and the Amish, only in here men and women are forbidden to mingle and get friendly with each other. Beth, a virgin living in a limbo that can only be a result of romance novel contrivances, has never felt the desire to make whoopee even on her own during her ten-year stay in the Compound until she accidentally spies a fellow Goodmaid secretly shagging a Goodman. Only then does she realize that she now wants it every where and every time.

In comes Stephen Trent, a reporter who is assigned to join the cult and write a feature on it for his newspaper. Beth only has to take one look at him to decide that she's ready to go all the way with him as soon as possible. She's a hot woman with the body of a porn star and she wants to do everything everywhere, plus she's programmed to cook, wash, and clean up after the man. How can any man resist such a woman? Stephen sure can't. Unfortunately, they have no idea of the lengths the Founders will go to keep their Beth with them.

I can believe that there is such a cult existing today, but it is hard to stop myself from snorting in derision when the author pulls out all stops on the melodrama. The Founders start pulling out coffins and turn into some kind of B-grade horror movie fraternity on crack. Not only that, the grand revelation of the conspiracy forming around Beth towards the end has me going, "Oh please, that's really over the top!"

The sex scenes are pretty steamy at times, but they often take place during the most ridiculous moments especially later in the story. I mean, the first thing Stephen and Beth do as soon as they are out of danger is to throw off their clothes and have sex. Every time. Not to check whether they are safe or whether they should be running off to the south of the border to flee the crackpots, oh no, they have to have sex instead.

Crave starts out a pretty decent steamy read despite its rather clunky Amish-cult-from-hell setting but it soon degenerates into an unintentionally farcical over-the-top schlocky thriller. I really don't know what to make of this. Perhaps the story would have been better if the author has written it as an erotic fantasy romance instead of a contemporary erotic romance.

Rating: 65


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