Janine Ashbless
October 2008, Erotic Romance
Black Lace, $12.95, 252 pages, Amazon ASIN 0352341947

Grade: F
Sensuality: Burning

Last month my husband read my review of a book that I graded D-; his question to me was, "What does it take to actually get an F from you?" I tried to explain to him that as bad as it was, I've actually read worse. As I finished Wildwood, I turned to him and said, "This book is why that one only got a D-." The erotic elements in this blend of fantasy and erotica (the book is marketed as "paranormal erotic romance") are so far from erotic that at times I felt sick to my stomach as a result of reading. I can't say I've ever experienced illness from a book, and I hope never to feel that way again as a reader.

Nine months after Avril Shearing meets the mysterious and handsome Michael Deverick at a wedding, he hires her to manage Kester Estate, a heavily wooded property. He makes it clear that he'd like their relationship to be more than professional; about her rule that she never mixes business with pleasure the manipulative Michael says, "Rules are for the weak, to keep them safe."

Avril investigates the most overgrown part of the estate and discovers a group of tree-huggers living there who are determined to keep the property from being developed. Their leader is the Rasta-haired Ash, who both frustrates and excites the sex-starved Avril, who has a thing for outdoor sex. So much so that one night she sheds her clothes and dons tree-climbing gear, then climbs up a large tree (enjoying the feeling of the breeze on her naked parts) just in time to spy Ash and a woman...or is it a deer?...going at it.

Ash later explains to Avril that the woods are filled with fay, and that Michael is not just a regular developer. No kidding. But then, Avril's not your normal landscaper. After all, if you saw a tree stump with ivy growing out of it that in the dark looked like a half-bull/half-man with a case of the hornies, would you shine a light on it, or would you approach it in the dark and do all sorts of dirty things with it? I've read probably two dozen erotic romances featuring all sorts of shapeshifters having sex with humans and it never seemed like beastiality. This does.

Ash and Michael are powerful magi (if that's plural for magus) locked in a mortal battle between good and evil. Within Wildwood is something Michael wants. Ash knows its location and has it covered with wards and spells to keep the other magus away. If Michael can find his way to it and use an ancient grimoire in his custody, he'll be able to tap into more than fifteen hundred years of power, much of it evil, to use at his disposal.

After Avril learns all of this, she promises Ash she will spy on Michael and try to locate the grimoire. Unfortunately, Ash seems like kind of a pig, sexually speaking, and as a result of his sexual selfishness, she turns to Michael, even though she knows he's Manipulative and Evil. She's hot for him, even when he brings a strange female creature into her bed. (The creature later tries to drown Avril by vomiting brackish water in her mouth.)

I won't go into more graphic detail about the sex described within the pages of this book. Nor will I additionally illustrate Michael's manipulations, Ash's sexual piggishness, or more of Avril's horniness other than to share with you that during the book's climactic scenes, she gives Michael and Ash a blow job...at the same time (to which my husband asked, "Is that even possible?").

The basic underpinnings of Wildwood - two magi battling, an ancient power, and the woman in-between - might have made for an interesting book. But this isn't it, no way, no how. The offensive personalities of all those involved, as well as the unsettling sex (to put it mildly) make this the worst book I've read this year, and among the top five most revolting books I've ever read.

-- Laurie Likes Books

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