I’ve read two ebooks recently. This isn’t something I usually do, but I did want to try out the experience. Neither of these authors expected a review when I began reading. I don’t normally do reviews of ebooks, and that hasn’t changed, for now, because I still don’t have an ideal reader.

Here are short reviews of both.

Survive My Fire

by Joely Sue Burkhart
Drollerie Press – $2.49

Sensual Fantasy

Survive My Fire is a dreamlike voyage through a land of shapeshifting dragons, poisoned sands, acid lakes and a volcano that — rather than lava — spews pure despair.

Chanda is a dragon, cursed by the gods and her own actions to remain in this form until she meets an impossible set of conditions. Jalan is a warrior who must slay her in order to remove the curse on his land.

Survive My Fire has a fantastic opening – it begins with the moment Jalan comes to slay Chanda, who only wants to eat him. I cannot do justice to the wonderful voice of this novel, so here is the opening paragraph:

A foreign scent intruded while I slept. A warrior. Miles away and on foot, he wouldn’t reach my lair until dusk. Sweat and musk, muscle and pride. Oh, how tasty, how divine a feast.

Right away there is a mighty battle, which ends when Jalan survives long enough to take advantage of her only weakness — a weakness similar to his own: during the nights of the full moon, Chanda the dragon becomes a woman.

The attraction between Chanda and Jalan is immediate. The opening chapters of this story has a number of sex scenes, some of which can get a little racy and even violent. But there is never rape; it’s more like dominance. Normally this would turn me off, but Ms. Burkhard wove it so flawlessly into the plot that I cannot fault her for it. The plot centers absolutely on Chanda and Jalan. All other characters are minor. Both Chanda and Jalan grow quite a bit as a result of their love for each other. Due to the short length of the story ( which is a novela rather than a novel), this works out fine. The presence of any other character would have made the story longer.

The voice is what captured me in this story, and what held me throughout. It is otherworldly, surreal and utterly engaging. It had to be, because Chanda — at first — seems so evil. Absent a connection to her, the reader needed another reason to keep reading. Here, both the plot and the voice do a terrific job.

Call of the Sea Gypsies
by J. G. Paine
Cobblelestone Press – $3.99

Erotic Romantic Fantasy

Forgive the lack of cover; it was a bit too naughty for me to post here. Just click through the publisher site to see it. I know the author will forgive me; she’s a dear friend and knows I’m a bit prudish. Ms. Paine asked me to read this when she sold it simply because she wanted to share it with me. The only thing that really makes it explicit is the naughty language — and yes, it is very naughty. But there is only one sex scene, along with a couple of sexy dreams.

Marna has lived away from the sea for years because in her heart she knows something within is calling her there, and it frightens her. But now she has returned because her grandmother has died under suspicious circumstances. As soon as she arrives back in Grey’s Harbor, trouble greets her. Several locals start pressuring Marna to sell her grandmother’s house. Her old childhood friend is also here, Morgan, and she is unsure whether he is still a friend or not. There is certainly something strange and intoxicating about him, and he never, never takes off his gloves.

And what of the old man who seems to be watching her?

Call of the Sea Gypsies is about the mythology around selkies. Ms. Paine especially played on the sensual nature of selkies, and wove it into a transformational sex scene near the end. Ms. Paine’s background is in writing mysteries, and it shows because a mystery is at the heart of the story, and it resolved in a way I never guessed. Ms. Paine’s writing style echoes the contemporary nature of the story – transparent and invisible, never intruding.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading Call of the Sea Gypsies. Maybe I have a skewed impression of what erotica is all about. But I enjoyed the story much more than I expected.