Where There’s a Will

Karen Kelley
September 2012, Fantasy Romance
Sourcebooks Casablanca, $14.99, 272 pages, Amazon ASIN 1402263899
Part of a series

Grade: C-
Sensuality: Hot

A sexually-repressed, whiny twenty-six-year-old loan officer who keeps a journal of erotic sex wishes is adopted by a half angel/half human cowboy whose goal is to show her how erotically appealing she is. Sounds like the beginning of a joke someone would tell in a bar when half sloshed, right? But that’s the premise of Kelley’s second in a trilogy.

Because Haley isn’t fashion-model thin and because she supposedly is brainy, her mother and her lawyer sister Rachel have told her she’s ugly all her life. Haley believes them until cowboy half-angel Ryder shows up in answer to her prayer for a miracle.

Ryder is fascinated by her and thinks she’s the epitome of female beauty; she isn’t flat as a board and bony as “most” women are. His goal is to convince Haley that he, and not her relatives, is right. In fact, he’s up (literally) for fulfilling every one of the fictional sexual encounters she’s written in her secret diary.

Repression in this fantasy story equates to doing anything in order to have sex, so Haley goes at it with Ryder after knowing him for less than twenty-four hours. Not only that, but she agrees to walk around the rest of the day nude —even to answering the door nude should anyone come to her home — something Haley sees as really “brazen.”

Methodically, Ryder takes Haley to every fantasy she’s ever imagined, with her protesting and commenting that each step is wrong and naughty along the way, even as she enjoys what he’s doing.

Ryder for his part is the Romeo of a group of four half-angel, half-man nephilim who answer human prayers while outrunning demons. Chance, Hunter, Dillon, and Ryder have had centuries of interaction with mortals, but only Ryder appreciates them for their very humanity. In a word, he’s envious of human emotion.

Ryder is also tired of being immortal and being the love ‘em and leave ‘em guy. He wants a real relationship that might be lasting. He wants real love, not the sham he’s experienced for thousands of years. How unoriginal is this concept in romance novels?

So what we’ve got here is a replay of so many other fantasy romances: A needy woman, an obliging disgruntled other world man, and a cast of disparagers including an old boyfriend, a jealous co-worker, and incredulous other worldly friends. Yawn.

Does the heroine make a transformation? Yes. Does the nephilim have to battle other worldly forces? Yes. Will I read another in Kelley’s series? No.

-- Pat Henshaw

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