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Fire in the Blood by Lisabet Sarai


Lisabet Sarai knows how to write about sex in a context of danger and excitement. Here is the first scene in her new vampire novella:

“The sky broke open. A savage drum beat in Maddy’s ears. She felt the thunder in her
belly, new peals crashing long before the echoes of the last died in the hills.
The beast she hugged between her thighs tensed with each resonant boom. Damp leather bit into her palm as she struggled to control her mount. The horse reared, whinnying in terror. She clutched at the stallion’s black mane, barely keeping her seat as he tore off once again into the underbrush.
Branches whipped at her face, leaving stinging trails of pain. She squinted against the wind-driven rain, her soaked bangs and the gathering dusk conspiring to blind her. The horse galloped on, trampling a path through the dense Caribbean forest.”

If anyone is in control of this action, it’s the horse. Although sex is not on the horizon yet, the heroine is literally being taken for a wild ride by the beast between her thighs.

The reader soon learns that Madeleine (“Maddy”) and her boyfriend Troy have come to Jamaica to re-energize their relationship, which has fallen into a pattern of dull routines. Like other tourists in the Caribbean (formerly pirate territory), Madeleine and Troy have enjoyed cocktails on the beach and rides on well-trained horses without being aware of the potential for violence that exists in the natural environment as well as in the local culture.

When Troy suggested to their Jamaican guide that the clouds looked ominous, their guide responded with a local cliche: “No problem, man.” But the sudden onset of thunder and lightning caused Madeleine’s horse to bolt. She is terrified of being thrown to the ground and trampled, so she is doing all she can to hang on as the horse takes her ever-farther away from civilization.

The powerful yet sensitive black stallion that Madeleine can’t control foreshadows the man who rescues her and tends her wounds after she has been thrown to the ground. The man lives in a crumbling manor-house named Fin d’Espoir (“Last Hope” or “The End of Hope”). He introduces himself as Etienne de Remorcy, originally from Haiti, that island of voodoo and things that never really die.

Here comes another lightning-bolt: although at first Madeleine is terrified of what this strange man could do to her, she soon feels irresistibly attracted to him. She knows her loyal boyfriend Troy must be looking for her, and worried sick.

The turning-point in the plot when Madeleine’s fear and concern for her concerned man (bland though he may be) changes into reckless desire for a stranger reminds me of the transformation of innocent young Janet (played by a young, soprano-voiced Susan Sarandon) who gets lost in a storm with her boyfriend Brad in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). In that now-classic spoof of classic horror movies, Janet falls for the perfect male hunk, a creation of the corseted, transgendered mad scientist, Frank N. Furter. She loses her commitment cherry.

In Fire in the Blood, Etienne reveals his own intense desire for Madeleine and his equally intense commitment not to harm her. He warns her that he and his sexual behaviour are inhuman, possibly beyond what Madeleine really wants or could bear.

Etienne’s immortal nature—and the BDSM implications of it—are now clear. Etienne even tells Madeleine that if she persists in the folly of asking him to possess her, he will tie her up so she can’t change her mind.

Madeleine consents to Etienne’s conditions, and they engage in passionate sex. She is marked forever as his, but she is not “turned” into a vampire, since he refuses to inflict his own doomed state on her. Madeleine becomes aware that Etienne is literally enchanting: a magical being that no mere mortal can resist. This fact helps explain how she could fall for her rescuer so quickly, when her boyfriend is desperately searching for her.

Like all brooding heroes, Etienne has a troubled past. He is attracted to Madeleine because she looks like the Mistress who bought him in the 1790s and who tormented and bewitched him. He needs to heal from his past relationship, while Madeleine needs to make a decision about her current one.

Troy is introduced, and we learn that he doesn’t want to lose Madeleine. In this erotic fantasy for women, he is the wholesome-looking nice guy who can be trusted to keep his promises, one who would make a good husband but who doesn’t drive a woman to maddening heights of ecstasy.

Many heroines of romances face the dilemma of having to choose between the man who appeals to common sense and the one who holds a hypnotic, irrational appeal. In some versions of this story, the heroine loses both the men in her life, since they each want to be her first choice, and they aren’t willing to share her. In some versions, the nice guy is willing to show his Bad Boy side to please the woman he loves, or the male animal is willing to settle for domestic life—except when the moon is full.

But in BDSM erotica, strict one-to-one bonding and heterosexuality itself are both negotiable, since the attraction of a Dom for a submissive and vice versa overrides anatomical differences. So paranormal romances like this one tend to be unpredictable.

Suffice it to say that Madeleine and the reader are left hanging for awhile, but the dilemma is ultimately resolved. The central characters in this novella are traditional types, more-or-less, and this makes them easy to recognize. The fantasy is fast-paced and satisfying, and the sex really seems superhuman. Find out whether Madeleine must choose between her desire for emotional security and her need for surrender to an overwhelming force, or whether these needs can be reconciled. You’ll enjoy the ride.

Fire in the Blood by Lisabet Sarai
(Total E-Bound, 2010; ISBN 9780857152565)
Available at: Total E-Bound

© 2010 Jean Roberta. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

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