Tina Folsom’s novel Samson’s Lovely Mortal, published 2010, is the first in her Scanguards Vampires series. I would categorise it as erotic PNR, and if that’s the sort of thing you normally read and love then there’s probably not much point in your reading this review any further. Just go read it – you’ll probably love it.
This is actually more of a rant than a review. Some spoilers ahead.
Before I go any further, let me state that (1) I am male, (2) straight – probably not relevant – and (3) not averse to romance – if it is believable and not excessive. The reason for stating this is to explain why I’m not thrilled by romances that revolve around some super awesome alpha male such as Edward or Christian, and Samson’s Lovely Mortal had actually been suggested to me on that basis – I didn’t entirely trust this, but chose to approach the book with an open acceptance of an alpha male romantic lead.
So, while I am not going criticise the book because there is a super awesome alpha male romantic lead, I am rather irked that his only fault is impotence – that is suddenly cured on meeting the heroine of the story, which happens so near the start of the novel that far more time is spent with self-glorification through virility than agonising over impotence. This feels like such an absurd plot to me, but I’ve already talked about that elsewhere, see Are you tired of all the sex? and Christmas Blood.
What about the females? If you just look at the characters who actually appear in the novel, I think there are five women. Two humans: our heroine, and a woman in a Chinese takeaway, who is ‘as friendly as a viper and just as pretty.’ Three vampires: one whose sole purpose is to start the novel on her knees attempting oral sex; another who is a stripper/prostitute, a ‘cheap’ ‘tramp’; and finally there’s Ilona who couldn’t be more evil, and she even likes her sex brutal and anal, so I guess she really is beyond saving (hmm…).
Clearly there are women (whether vampire or human) in the world who aren’t either evil or prostitutes, but the heroine is the only one we really see. This is a book that has a gay vampire couple, so points for that, I suppose, but it shies away from presenting a female vampire in a positive light (see The Female Vampire). Delilah, our heroine, even manages to achieve immortality and the pleasure of drinking blood without becoming a vampire herself! Huh? WTF?
Yes. There’s that. The idea that two people can be so perfect for each other that they can transcend time and space. In other words, it’s not enough to have boy-meets-girl and things progress from there. No, they are destined to meet, fall absolutely in love within minutes of meeting, and be practically inseparable thereafter… Mixed in with Energizer Bunny sex. For all eternity.
Sigh. A piece of advice I heard or read, many years ago now: You should have only one improbable thing in a story. Even if that one thing is a whole fantasy universe. Or the existence of vampires. The more improbabilities, the harder it is to suspend disbelief.
For example: Samson, our hero, not only (and highly questionably, but then again how was Ilona there?) appears in the very nick of time to save Delilah, but does so in a way that leaves him so horribly injured that Delilah recognises that yes she does truly love him and must be the one and only human who will nurse him back to health with her blood – and fortunately there’s some mystery liquid that will make it possible for her to suffer extreme blood loss – and spend the rest of eternity drinking his blood and v-v but hey that doesn’t bother her at all because suddenly hanging out with vampires is so terribly normal.