Sunday, February 14, 2010

Review- Haley's Cabin by Anne Rainey

Haley’s Cabin
by Anne Rainey
Feb 27, 2007
Contemporary/ m/f/ -f/f/m
37K- $4.50
Ebook- Samhain

Buy it Samhain, ARe

Guest Reviewer- Jill Sorenson

Every good girl longs for a chance to be a little naughty.

Raw from an ugly divorce and wrung out from her demanding job, Haley Thorne needs a break. When Haley’s doctor urges her to take a vacation, she heads to her secret cabin in the woods.

The very first night, Haley dreams of an erotic threesome that leaves her panting and aroused. When sexy police detective Jeremy Pickett shows up at her door, she’s shocked: He looks like the man in her midnight fantasy! Levelheaded Haley unleashes her inner seductress and has a little fun—handcuffs and all!

Warning: this title contains hot, explicit sex, graphic language.

I bought this on sale at AllRomanceEbooks. I’ve seen Rainey’s covers here at LVLM, but never read a review, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. If I remember correctly, I was looking for a different title and couldn’t find it. I picked this one blindly, hoping for a steamy f/f/m ménage.
I was disappointed.

Haley is a beautiful “computer geek” with a gorgeous body that she likes to show off. She’s getting over an abusive relationship with her ex-husband. What better way to do that than jump in bed with a dominating stranger who arrives at her secluded cabin unexpectedly?

The only ménage here happens in the opening scene—a dream sequence. A handsome man and sexy woman knock on Haley’s door in the middle of the night, asking to use her phone. After she lets them in, he initiates a sexual encounter. Haley feels like she’s dreaming (and she is) so she doesn’t resist. Haley is also “not into women,” but she’s very turned on by the female guest. Haley gets down and dirty with the other woman, sometimes forgetting the man’s presence entirely.

Okay, so this part was hot! Normally I prefer heroines to own their desires, not just go with the flow, but Haley’s lack of control worked for me here. At one point, the man gently pushes her head down between the other woman’s legs. *fans self*

But don’t get too excited, friends, this is all just a tease. In the morning, the man from Haley’s dreams arrives, alone. He’s staying in the cabin next door. She tells him about her dream, and he’s excited by the fantasy, but they never discuss the details. Instead, they have sex in the hot tub, and play domination games, and videotape their marathon bedroom activities.

If you aren’t expecting more f/f, the romance is fine. The scenes are highly sensual and the characters are likeable. My main problem, other than the false impression I was given by the initial setup, was bad writing. I’m so sorry to have to say that! The dialogue is stiff, there’s a lot of repetition, and the conflict needed work. Although this is my first selection from Samhain, I’ve heard good things about them and expected better.

That said, I think Rainey shows a lot of promise. I kept reading, partly because I was looking for more ménage, but also because the story was compelling despite its technical flaws. This is a guilty pleasure type of read. I’m definitely open to suggestions for a more polished, f/f or f/f/m-focused Rainey novel.

Sex rating: I don’t feel comfortable assigning a heat level based on the state of my underwear. Haley’s Cabin has graphic language and explicit sex scenes, but the romance also has a sweet side.

Grade: C-

10 comments:

LVLM said...

Jill- hmmm... this sounds a bit disappointing. I read Anne's book Burn, which is also a kind of f/f/m menage. The part between the two women was really sweet, but the m/f relationship in that book got on my nerves, with an unlikeable hero and a Mary Jane heroine. I wished there was more f/f scenes and not because I like them, but because I thought the two f/f friends in that book had the more compelling story.

I'd still probably buy and read this book, although, like you, get it on sale.

Funny that you got this during the ARe sale. I looked quite a bit for f/f/m menage books and I think I got one or two, but since I bought 16 can't remember which ones. I don't recall seeing this book though, so the metadata sorting isn't that great on menage on ARe selections.

Thanks for doing a review! It's always welcome here.

Eyre said...

Great review! I've had this ebook for ages, and I haven't been able to get into it.

kirstensaell said...

Yeah, that f/f/m set-up with no f/f/m follow through would probably irk me. I don't mind a heroine kind of "going along" with things, being led in her desires (in fact, that can be incredibly hot), but I know I'd feel let down reaching The End without a real-time f/f/m payoff.

Although the man pushing her head between the other woman's legs would really work for me, too, lol.

Oh well, back to the drawing board, I guess. Sigh.

M. A. said...

The only ménage here happens in the opening scene—a dream sequence.

Dream scenes (erotic or otherwise) often don't translate well. The reader is often left with a sense of being "cheated" or "tricked."

If a dream sequence is featured in a book's prologue, it often reads as a phony beginning (because after reading the "dream") you have to get to the "real" story.

Featured later in a book, it can become a distraction (from storyline action already occurring.)

There are exceptions to every rule. "Alice in Wonderland" is almost entirely a dream. So is "The Nutcracker." But it's important to note that in these works, the dream is the actual story with RL being a brief epilogue. These stories also hint that there's more to the dreams than we might believe.

Jill Sorenson said...

LVLM,

I searched by author at ARe. I don't think this was labeled f/f/m. Also, the cover doesn't hint at f/f. But those can often be misleading.

I might have been hard on this book because of my expectations. If the main couple had at least discussed the dream, and fantasized together, I might have felt more satisfied.

Anyway, I bought a couple of other titles at ARe, one f/f/m and another f/f. Hope I like those better. I'm really picky about good writing...

Thanks for having me!

LVLM said...

Dream scenes (erotic or otherwise) often don't translate well. The reader is often left with a sense of being "cheated" or "tricked."

I don't mind them in paranormals where often the dream world is an alternate real world. Or if they are a prelude to the real thing. But in this case, I think I would have gotten pissed.

Jill- Normally I prefer heroines to own their desires, not just go with the flow, but Haley’s lack of control worked for me here.

For me, when it comes to f/f, I'm willing to suspend some of that need for a heroine to own their sexuality. With f/f, I rather get off on those stories in which one girl at least suddenly finds herself attracted to a woman and goes for it when she had never done so before. It's closer to my own reality than reading about two lesbians who've always been into women.

In m/f I'm a lot less forgiving of the heroine who goes with the flow sexually with a domineering or alpha dude.

But back to the dream thing, in f/f particularly I dislike it. Especially when the woman involved is mainly straight or there is a question about her sexuality.

In this case, I feel a dream sequence depicting f/f without an actual f/f scene happening, is a cop out. If that guy would have shown up with a woman and then it played out for real, I think I would be more attracted to read this story.

I admit though, I'm much more strict with f/f in the protagonists owning up to their same sex attractions in the story. Especially if one of them has been straight all along.

Cathy in AK said...

In this case, I feel a dream sequence depicting f/f without an actual f/f scene happening, is a cop out. If that guy would have shown up with a woman and then it played out for real, I think I would be more attracted to read this story.

I was thinking the same thing. It seemed like a "bait and switch" to me. Bummer.

So what *is* the story about, other than two complete strangers boffing all over the place? And recording it??? Girlfriend needs to be a bit more intelligent than that. Hello, Internet sex tape anyone?

LVLM said...

Girlfriend needs to be a bit more intelligent than that. Hello, Internet sex tape anyone?

This made me laugh. When you have erotica and erotic romance, sometimes the situations are too insane for me. With contemps all the modern day crap that can happen runs through my head.

Sometimes I wish I never stopped reading mysteries. snort

M. A. said...

@ LVLM:

I don't mind them in paranormals where often the dream world is an alternate real world.

That's what I meant when I cited "The Nutcracker" and "Alice in Wonderland" as good examples of the "it was only a dream" trope working.

Another well-known effective example is "The Wizard of Oz."

In all these stories, the main storyline IS the dream. All important characters, actions, and themes are introduced or addressed in the dream. To all practical purposes, the dream sequence tells the story.

I dislike fiction using lengthy description of dreams as a plot device, especially if the dreams have little to do with the main plot elements. In cases like that, dream sequences detour the reader from the main action.

That said, rules are made to be broken or bent, and some authors have used dream tropes very successfully. One that stands out to my mind is LKH's "Guilty Pleasures." In the novel, the heroine, unaware she has been mystically bonded to a local vampire badass/sexpot, dreams about him several times.

What made it work, IMHO, was that the dream sequences were not tediously long, a few paragraphs as opposed to a whole chapter or half chapter of descriptive build-up portraying the dream as real and then "faking out" the reader with a "surprise! Gotcha! This was just a dream". It also helped that the heroine recognized she was dreaming and noted it. Her voice/attitude didn't change because of it.


Or if they are a prelude to the real thing. But in this case, I think I would have gotten pissed.


The problem with dream sequences is that, even if very well-written, there is no "payoff" for the reader to enjoy.

A good example is a short story you reviewed a few months back, Jade Buchanan's "Dreaming of Harmony." The story includes delectable f/f erotica as a dream (or possibly the heroine's experience of an alternate reality, potential future, or other comparable trope.) But since there's no "payoff" -- it's never revealed whether or no the two women ever become romantically involved for real -- the story loses credibility.

Note the more successful dream trope books followed a specific formula:

1. Hero(ine) is introduced, some RL problem or concern might be presented.

2. In Hero(ine)'s dream/fantasy world, hero/ine embarks on an adventure. The adventure might or might not relate to the RL problem introduced earlier.

3. The Hero(ine) achieves his/her goal/s OR s/he learns something important. S/he is wiser from the experience.

4. Hero/ine wakes up, recognizes s/he was dreaming. In some cases s/he is able to use knowledge or experience gained from dream adventure to resolve a RL problem.

In "Dreaming of Harmony," elements 1 and 2 are present, but 3 and 4 are not. Thus the "let-down."

LVLM said...

M.A.- Kathryn Smith has a new, well not new, but fairly new series about lucid dreaming. Before I Wake is the first book. The characters both act out while in lucid dreaming states and the story shifts between dream world and real world. Although the dream world affects those in the read world.

I love that series and love that those from the dream world can manifest has humans. But the characters are clear about when they are dreaming and not, even if not at first. In this case, totally works for me.

But one dream sequence in a story, um..no, I don't like them usually.