Laurann Dohner „Ral’s Woman“

 When I first took up this book, I had quite high expectations on it. For what, I have no idea. Perhaps, because it’s been published by Ellora’s Cave and there have been good books from them before that I did like despite their genre or writing style, but this one just blew me over and not in a good way. I am glad I got it through free offer, because had I paid money for it, I’d be one seriously offended customer right now.

 What follows is quite angry response to very weak book.

SPOILERS! 

First of all – the background. Perhaps that’s what first drew me to it? It might have, but my imagination was constantly feeling left out, because though wonderful and cute, it lacked any proper description one could hope from a science fiction. I understand it’s meant to be erotic literature, but it was also fantasy world! How much do you dig out from descriptions like red sky, black houses and purple grass? I would like something extra, like shape of the trees or crab flying around or two moons out in the sky, one grey, other bright green – anything!

Plus, for the side mark – conis is very unsuccessful choice to mark anything resembling computers. On one side it is citizen of Skypiea who befriends some monkey – whose name escapes me – if you know some of anime worlds. On the other hand you don’t want to know all the connections my brain immediately came up with and I don’t believe I’m alone in this.

Characters were my biggest let down. You are writing about woman, who is watching her new man from the side – the way he moves, the way he irritates, what calms him down. What he looks like and what he feels like, smells like. How you’d react to someone, who is described first as meat pile and then added that he has flat nose and long hair. Flat nose – nice, we’re getting somewhere. You can imagine my whiny, stiffening wrinkles around my upright perky nose when everything else ended with the woman sensing that “yeah, looks nice, feels nice – I can live with that!” I could not. It was even worse when he opened his mouth and what came out was worse than schoolchildren imitating Neanderthal. Unfortunately the rest of the book was written pretty much the same style, so the “me” character, the Earth woman Ariel, sounded as if part of the same species. But ok, not native speaker and perhaps that’s her style, I can go on with that. Perhaps Ral is even just playing stupid, I had glimmer of hope. I was oh so cheery when it came out true! Only to feel like banging against the wall seeing how his educated (royal, sitting in for judge – he has to be smart, well spoken and what not!) speech was just the same.

Instead I turned my attention to Ariel. Long blond hair danced around in her underwear before all the “needy” men… Sounded like beginning of 80s super bad stories. But she is smart, right? She would try to escape, right? She would put up a fight, not accept this situation pushed on her, right? Try to negotiate to be let free?

Riiiiight! Instead she turned into purring sex kitten right the moment he took her to his nest. No fight, no biting, nothing – it was as if she was prostitute and she was just doing another client. I am sorry, but that’s exactly the feeling I got from this. Just because the man has just won you over boxing match and says he has needs doesn’t mean you give yourself to them! Where is that woman’s fighting spirit? If a stranger would walk to you in park and said he has needs, would you accept his advances?

Then came one blow after another that all spoke against her character. Things that didn’t add up, like she stands out by helping men work. Yet she has been shown previous as someone, who is very modest. When the Zorn return to their planet – she goes with them. Understandable – it’s a way out. But when they get there, she raises no thunder over the fact that the man refuses her the right to be free and return to home, too. I would have accepted if she would have been sad or thought about it often, because I keep thinking about my home a lot if I’m away, yet she just smiles and goes for the life she is offered.

Then another woman shows up and she feels jealous. Alone, in the middle of strangers, not knowing who the woman was and she gets possessive. I would have thought, first seeing the other woman offering herself and having such anger on show, that it might be his wife and perhaps that’s why he didn’t want to tell much about the planet to her. Imagine yourself as an European woman taken to African tribe – can you tell me that this thought never crosses your mind? That you would stand by your man without thinking even once that you have no idea what the situation actually is about? Instead she gives out ultimatum and walks out. It was indeed a surprise, I would have never thought about doing that.

Alien versus human in most stories includes the awkward anatomical studies. I say awkward, because mostly that’s what they are. I wouldn’t mind reading anatomy major including sex ideas while studying organs, quirky perhaps, but playable, but with aliens I would prefer less anatomy. Outside is nice, yes, but inside… This reminds me a fanfiction actually, similar story of girl taken from Earth and getting attention of sex-deprived alien. The response to the girl’s plea that perhaps they are not compatible, he simply removed his loin cloth, revealed his for a moment, then covered it up again and that was it. Both intelligent characters got the picture without any extra explanation. Simple, yet perfect. This book was not.

I won’t go on with things that bothered me about this book for much more, it would take all day. However there are two other things that seriously bothered and for any woman’s sake I will speak out.

 I feel sorry for every character, who can’t express their feelings or accept feelings questionable to the character. The man declares his love without knowing what love is. Woman accepts it and goes around without feeling any doubt if what he calls love means same thing as for her. There was few conversations, but not even close to explaining anything. On one moment she is worried, then smiling and weirdly accepting like it didn’t matter. Can’t say the rest of the crew was much different. Father, for example, who was obviously and reasonably against the union started rant over accepting it just moments after inconvenient incident. I have yet to see daddy, who would change their mind after one incident. Apologetic to his son, maybe, but accepting the whole deal? Not likely.

I don’t want to get into what happened near the end with the sex tape, which left me rolling pages faster than spinning wheel goes, but then comes what I’d call the most, utterly the worst thing any loyal to her roots, to her planet and family and genre, ever can do! Especially woman, who has been kidnapped herself and gone through the turmoil of loosing what is dear to her. She gives advice how to kidnap others! After others have seen the sex tape, her response is to say “ok, go and get them! But remember – our officers are fierce and women have to come on their own will!”

If there was any hope for the series, though seriously doubtful as the idea seems to be the only good thing here, then this last thing spoiled absolutely everything. It was nonsense ending with rage boiling up from every part of my body that could steam. I can understand this is written keeping Ellora’s Cave readers in mind, but surely you give them more credit than that! No matter how deeply erotic, it should still give to other senses something to do, too! It is not enough to read hot scenes if the rest of the book makes you wonder if to keep up until next bed scene or roll it up and go hunting some flies.

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