Bitchin' Blog Posts
Title: Irrational Arousal
Author: Summer Devon
Publication Info: Ellora's Cave 2009
I first mentioned this book because of its cover. Oh, what a cover. In the comments, someone asked if the book itself was as bad as the cover. No, not at all. But cover notwithstanding, I couldn’t finish the book.
The premise of the book is interesting: for unknown reasons, the hero and heroine mind-meld whenever they’re sexually stimulated. They don’t know one another, but suddenly they are in each other’s minds during orgasm. Talk about double penetration! She’s in the shower, using the handheld spray in a unique manner not covered by its warranty, and suddenly he can see her thoughts and experience her orgasm. He chokes his chicken and she feels it in her thighs - and other places. I was so curious about the why of it - how did it happen? Why these two people? And who are they? - that I read long past the point where, ordinarily, the structural flaws would have stopped me. But in the end those flaws made for too much of an obstacle and I gave up.
The narrative fell apart after the hero, Will, and Gia, the heroine, go to the hospital - at his insistence. He is horrified by this Vulvan Mind-Meld and is convinced something’s horribly wrong with him, which is understandable since being inside Gia’s mind results in his seeing his boss stark naked while Will is trying to operate a backhoe. (heh heh)
At the hospital, the doctors seem very calm about Will and Gia’s descriptions of their problems, which is utterly bizarre in and of itself. But then the narrative suffers a major fracture when the doctors get WAY too personal, and WAY too unfamiliar with basic patient confidentiality. I was willing to accept that the local ER had seen several cases of Vulvan Mind Meld and I was willing to accept that the doctors were still looking for the cause of this psychological clusterfuck, but I was not prepared to accept that the doctors would spontaneously invite themselves over to Gia’s apartment, bringing their significant others along, because Will and Gia’s case had caused a lover’s spat for poor Dr. WhatsConfidentiality.
The main characters were underdeveloped after the initial chapters, and were stuck within cliched descriptions. Will is a construction worker, and is constantly dirty. So dirty he sits on the floor when he visits Gia’s home. He doesn’t like his Vulvan Mind Meld but he craves Gia in a way that scares the hell out of him. More time is spent on mundane details and wooden dialogue with Will than is necessary, and any scene that’s firmly in his head is brimming with details I could have lived without:
“Maybe I should go,” he started to say but when he saw the panic on Gia’s face added, “to the bathroom. Be right back.” A little distance, maybe he could calm down enough to think.
He peed, splashed cold water on his face and scrubbed at his hands some more. He looked in the cupboard, and found an extra toothbrush in an untouched package. Heck, he’d buy her a new one. Brushing took a few minutes and distracted his few brain cells that were getting enough blood to function. Flossing, why not?
So much telling, nowhere near enough showing. There were so many scenes like this that read like laundry lists of character activities. Other parts skim what could have been character development in subtle gestures but instead is giant heaping dollops of info dump that tried my patience.
The heroine is subject to the same activity checklist, especially when she makes coffee (which she does over and over and over again), and also suffers from whiplash character development as well. At the start of the book, she is still pining over her ex, Mike, and suffering from post-breakup and post-layoff blues. Then, in the course of the story, she meets up with her ex at a job interview at his company - and once again standard laws of conduct for medical or professional establishments are ignored or absent entirely - and in the course of making out with him up against the wall of his office, realizes that her perception of their breakup was all wrong. Based on what Mr. Smooth Assholey says to her, she decides everything that went wrong in their relationship was her fault, and in doing so completely undermines her own character and weakens her to such an extent that I was disgusted.
Considering the heightened lustypants created in Will and Gia because of the Vulvan Mind Meld, I was expecting some exceptional sex scenes, but alas, this wasn’t part of the narrative either. Waaaaaay too much was skimmed in the sex scene, especially given how detailed their fantasies and shared experiences were. For example, Gia figures out who Will is based on his arm. Seriously The heroine identified the hero based on her vivid, sweaty memory of his forearm and hand appearing in her dream - quite a detailed reason to get all hot and flustered upon seeing him again outside her apartment.
But when they actually jump each other, unable to resist the mental and physical connection that’s amplifying the attraction, the sex scenes themselves are rendered in skimming overview, with so few details that the sexual encounters as a result seem unimportant - when the whole reason these two people are banging is because of reasons they didn’t create and compulsion they cannot control.
The origin and explanation of the mysterious Vulvan Mind Meld kept me reading, even after it pointed to a paranormal explanation, but once the mystery escalates and the hero suffers alone from an additional strange attack unrelated to orgasms or anything, the plot stretched too far beyond my boundaries of the credible, and what set up as a very curious and somewhat innovative shared-mind experience became cardboard characters who I didn’t care nearly enough about to continue reading to find out what happened.
But was it as bad as the cover? Nope. If the book was as filled with WTFery as the cover, I’d have been compelled to keep reading because of the outright silliness. This was not nearly compelling enough in badness or goodness to keep me going.