by Jaid Black, contemporary (2001)
Ellora's Cave, $4.45, ISBN 1-84360-596-1

Tremors marketed itself as a Gothic erotic romance. And trust me, there's a lot of black threads and heavy throbbing, pulsating passions in this baby to live up to that label.

This story tells of Marie Robb's wonderful initiation into the joys of her sugar walls, to paraphrase Prince, by one mysterious Fredrick Sőrebo. Freddie appears out of the blue one night when Marie experiences a flat tire (she's on a holiday to England) and proceeds to drag her "home" to his Gothic castle.

Why does he insist on dragging her to his place? (Duh!) Why do the villagers tell Marie that Freddie is a bit out of whack in the head? Who is Freddie? Does Marie even care when he starts to, you know?

Tremors starts off a bit, er, off. The prose seems stilted, and I get slightly irritated at Marie's tendency to speak aloud to herself again and again. In fact, the descriptions of her body parts tingling and the way Freddie's muscles are all a-bulging here and there seem rather gratuitous too, considering that they are alone at a deserted street at night, of all things. I would be reaching for my Mace spray when a man tells me he will "take me home", not going, "Ooh, my bubbies are hardening!"

But things settle down after the initial premise, and when Freddie rips off his clothes and get down on business - and Marie - phwoar. Nothing like gratuitous and hot sex scenes to drive the flu blues away, I tell you. Marie doesn't seem that silly anymore (although I understand most Gothics require their heroines to be silly and run down deserted hallways in their see-through gowns - I don't read Gothics much, but that's what I hear), and Freddie becomes this rather adorable big cute sex toy. A lady's personal, er, bitch, if you will. His codependency and obsession on Marie makes some tantalizing read, considering how he always have the upper hand in the bedroom.

Of course, Marie will get more and more uneasy as the half-truths start to pile. Actually, Freddie's secret isn't that much a revelation, it's a standard Gothic plot device, but the way these two eventually have a semblance of a relationship - albeit a dysfunctional one - is more than a satisfactory pay-off.

Tremors is a rather nice take on the Beauty And The Beast captive fantasy. The love scenes really are hot, hot, hot, and as a plus, devoid of the sillier euphemisms for one's genitals without coming off like a medical autopsy session. I know, I'm a sucker for hot sexy stuff, but really, with such an obsessive hunk spinning a captive fantasy and seducing the life out of his woman even as he waxes about how he can't live without her... dang, I can't resist.

Rating: 85

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