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Dark Designs (Black Lace) Kindle Edition
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Mass Market Paperback, Bargain Price, International Edition
|Length: 272 pages|
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That's why Dark Designs completely threw me off base. It read more like the yaoi manga novels its author Madelyne Ellis obviously knows and loves. She's obviously in love with Cloud and Sephiroth from the Final Fantasy series of games. I was thrilled when she tossed in Gackt and Hyde and Visual Kei, my big loves. It's when the novel becomes too angsty and the characters overly obssessed, that it loses that spark which made it different, and certainly not as much fun. On the other hand, we are talking about goths, and well, we tend to love high drama.
The most interesting characters by far are Takeshi and Silk, though clothing designer heroine Remy is definitely otaku in her love of m/m yaoi and wanting to see these two hot men do the horizontal manbo. Admittedly, Takeshi, the part-time former errand boy of the yakuza and now e-bay hotshot, is the most well-crafted of the trio. He's brash, tough, sexy, but with a sweetness that makes him wonderfully likable. From stealing Remy's priceless imported yaoi in a comic shop to a hot romp in a public men's loo, Takeshi steals the show.
Note to authors - we need more hot Asian men as heroes! You don't know what you're missing!
Silk is his exact opposite--a drop-dead androgynous gothic libertine who finally gets his comeuppance being seduced by the more secure in his masculinity Takeshi, and watching his denial of the other man's attractiveness to wanting him and finally getting what he's wanted was so worth it. Did it seem a little fast? Partially, but much like the bike Takeshi rides, Silk finds himself hurtling towards a realization that by all indications has been within him, yet dormant.
Like her previous menage novels, Ellis doesn't resort to feminizing either male character (something that way too many female writers of m/m fiction tend to do and which drives me crazy). Even better is that she doesan't make the Japanese Takeshi into a submissive uke (bottom boy). Yes, both men are pretty, but that's in looks alone.
Dark Designs is a delicious melange featuring a gothic nighttime wedding in a castle, three strange sisters called 'The Gorgons', a bride on the edge, a groom with a taste for absinthe and melodrama, a mother with a rampant libido, and a frustrated biker lesbian photographer in love with the heroine. Add the pretty boy lust-fest and stir well.
My only complaint - oil (or in this case cooking-oil spray) and latex DO NOT MIX!!! Authors, if you cannot have your characters find some water-based lube somewhere, then skip the sex entirely or have them not use a condom.
Hot guys? Check.
Awesome female main character? Check.
Oh lets not forget gothic, fashion, alternative clothing combined with wedding festivities in a castle. Check!
Fantastic combination of all of these things, I loved this book for what it was...a fun erotic romp. Remy has two guys tugging at her (Takeshi and Silk) but she'd rather have them tugging at each other! (Can't say I blame her.) In the end the only thing I hungered for was a second book about their exploits together. Very nice!
The book starts off tremendously well, with a hot scene that introduces Remy and Takeshi, and you just a get a feel that they're going to be the pair that you root for. And that's just the way it is- Takeshi is a brilliantly well-drawn character who you feel like you instantly know from the beginning, with his cute little idiosyncracies (his Real Doll, for example), and you like watching Remy try and fail to combat his lovely charm.
And then in comes the character of Silk. I'm sorry, but as a reader, nothing about Silk captivated me except for the description of his physical beauty. He's vain and shallow and there's not much in the way of character development that endears me to him. His cross-over to stalwart straight boy to totally-fine-with-gay-sex happens much too fast and easily. Takeshi's seduction of him is absolutely hot, but nothing about the ending of this transition felt all that realistic. I just couldn't understand why Remy was so head-over-heels in love with Silk, and thus couldn't relate to a good deal of the book.
The side characters were pretty nice and funny and cute, in particular Takeshi's friend and the three Gorgon sisters . . . but Takeshi takes the cake.
A good novel if you like the girl-boy-boy love story, another one to add to the collection rounded out by Emma Holly's "Menage" and "Strange Attractions" and Mandy Dickinson's "Out Of Bounds", but Takeshi is the shining grace of the novel- the guy I wish I could bring to life.
Goths and Yoai (which I had NO idea was a thing). Lots of tension and fooling around in an old castle, if you don't like man on man give it a skip.
Quick easy read that get's you hot under the collar even though you aren't really sure why.