Monday, November 20, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Five Card Studs by Madison Faye

3 ‘I’m Being Generous Because the First Sex Scene was Hot and I liked Gaige’ Stars

Tess is the new bartender at an exclusive club. It’s a real “hot spot” and she finds herself on the radar of not one but five of her bosses— Gaige, Dane, Vince, Luke, and Noah.
“‘Nah, we don’t take turns, Tess…We share.’”
It started out promising, but this book suffers from…giving mixed signals. What you get is various tales of their sexual encounters. But the message the characters keep feeding is their special connection, the real deal, the one, head over heels in love (Yes, even one of the guys says that!)

Had the story actually delivered that, it could have made a difference in the rating. For example, we’re told that in the hour after Tess, Gaige, and Dane’s first encounter, they talk, drink, and share over their lives and backgrounds, and this is where they start falling for each other. It’s not the sex, they stress, but “the part that came after that” which made the difference. But instead of getting the actual scene, it’s summarized. Total missed opportunity. Sure readers can read between the lines, but if we’re supposed to be convinced that this is really love and not just three horny people, let’s be tuned in to their dialogue, grin at their banter, hear the clink of their bottles,  experience the connection when they find some common ground in their lives, and sigh sweetly at their post nookie cuddling.  In the words of the great Banky Edwards, “Now THAT, my friend, is a shared moment.”

It happens again about a chapter later. We next meet Vince who relates:
“She was captivating before. Knowing what she did last night and knowing now the wildness she’s capable of makes her irresistible.”
It seems that Tess made quite the impression on these men from the moment she walked through the door looking for a job, but that scene is never provided either even though several of them reference it. Shame, it would have made a fitting prologue.

The characters had potential, and I would have liked to know more about them individually. I liked Tess alright, but nothing that was depicted cast a light on why she was so special. The guys could say it all they liked, but the burden of proof is on the storytelling. Basically, it suffers from too much ‘tell’ rather than ‘show’ when it comes to the relationship and character development. Insta-love is something anyone can say. A solid narrative and plotting will prove it.

As the tale wears on, the professions of love grow worse, the character development more scant, and the sex scenes more repetitive. It was like a bad porn that was trying to pass itself off as romance.  And the number of times the men insist that they aren’t jealous of each other—mind-boggling.

By the final absurd five-way scene, I was losing track of who was where and how she had enough limbs and openings to service these dudes. It played out more like a game of Twister on a poker table. Which, by the way, that must have been one supersized, industrial made table to hold all six of them. I think at the point where I was calculating the total estimated weight of the men in my head, it was clear that even the smut factor had lost me. 

Told via all six of their first person POVs, this is erotica, not romance. Make no mistake, there’s a slim plotline with only one action scene that’s not sex; the characters are barely distinguishable from each other making them hard to connect with; and this is 100% lust/infatuation, not love.  The safety factor was good though.


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