Master of Ecstasy
There are plenty of romances with humorous covers that don’t reflect the serious story inside. But I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a cover this serious on a book as unserious as Master of Ecstasy. The cover is so dark and brooding most readers would never guess what a goofy and outlandish story lurks inside. A vampire hero and a time-traveling heroine take on ghosts, Vikings, a telepathic cat, psychotic vampire groupies, and a castle full of horny tourists in Scotland circa 1785. Dark and brooding, it isn’t.
Blythe 56-2310 comes to Castle MacKenzie as part of a time-travel vacation offering sexual pleasures in the past. The twenty-fourth century woman has no intention of pairing up like the rest of her fellow travelers. She’s there strictly on business, to prove that she can maintain a business relationship with a client she’s assigned to make happy.
Unfortunately for her, there are forces at work just as determined to break her resolve. There’s Sparkle Stardust, the cosmic troublemaker currently in disguise as a cat. Wreaking sexual havoc is her specialty, and she takes Blythe’s resolution as a personal challenge. Then there’s Darach MacKenzie, the vampire currently residing in the castle’s tower. He’s not pleased to find these interlopers from different times storming his ancestral home. Blythe is a welcome distraction though, and he immediately turns his attentions to bedding her. The woman says she’s not interested in sleeping with him. So the randy vampire sets about changing her mind.
This is a very silly and over-the-top story, especially when it comes to the sex. Everyone in the castle seems to be in heat and Darach in particular spends much of the story acting like a walking hormone. But it’s still an entertaining one as long as you don’t try to take it too seriously. It’s the kind of book that requires the reader not ask too many questions or give the plot too much scrutiny. It also moves so fast there’s hardly enough time to do so. Bangs writes with a lot of energy that keeps the story bouncing along without becoming too manic. There are plenty of funny lines and clever touches, as long as your funny bone is okay with some silly humor.
The problems I had weren’t with the material, but with some of the author’s style. I like dialogue-driven books as much as the next reader, but in this case there was a little too much talk and too little action. The main characters engage in these long conversations that often seem like they’ll never stop (although one of Darach’s lines, which can’t be repeated here, when Blythe tries prolonging one conversation is classic). It’s not often I want to see more of the secondary characters and less of the main ones, but that’s what happened here. The other characters, particularly Sparkle Stardust, were all a lot of fun, and their appearances helped to break up some of the monotony of Blythe and Darach’s talking, talking, talking. I wish there’d been more of them.
This gets better late in the book, when Darach and Blythe have to fight off some threats to the castle. Blythe in particular gets to kick into action mode, which is fun. In addition to breaking up the pace a little more, it also adds a little more emotion to the characters’ relationship. There’s a misunderstanding that threatens to come up, but while one of the character’s beliefs about the other was wrong, I still liked the way the person handled it. It was a little surprising to discover that a romance that started out so silly managed to make me care by the end.
Master of Ecstasy certainly isn’t a book for everyone, but readers looking for an outlandish, high-energy, and randy read will find a fun one here. Think of this one as a guilty pleasure.