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Erotic Romance Review – Inked Destiny

Inked Destiny by Jory Strong

Review by reacherfan1909


Series: Inked Magic, Bk 2 – suggest books be read in order to follow storyline

Published: July 2013


Ellora’s Cave, a small press that specializes in Romantica (AKA women’s erotica), was the starting place for a host of popular authors who transitioned to mainstream or large press erotic romance. Lauren Dane, Shelly Laurenston, Christine Warren, and many others began there as did Jory Stong.  She developed a certain style and rhythm in her stories even then, whether paranormal, fantasy, or contemporary, which includes ménage à trois mixed with m/m and some kink.  She isn’t the storyteller that Lauren Dane has become, but she has a loyal following among erotic romance readers and some of her stuff is excellent – though every series seems to have weak links.

Of all the writers emerging from the erotic small press industry, Jory Strong has stuck most closely to her original Ellora’s Cave style, heavy on the sex and a good story that sometimes gets more interfered with, than helped by all that sex, turning interesting characters one dimensional.  It gets a bit tedious.  I keep feeling there should be more to the characters than just intense horniness.  And how many dripping body parts is enough?  Seriously?  I’d say she beat it to death, but that’s a whole other double entendre.

Etaín is more than just a tattoo artist, she’s an elf changeling, but she’s also something that’s rare even among elves – Etaín is a born ‘seidic’ a feared and honored gift of taking memories from others and the art of giving them tattoos of great power.  Usually turned over to the queen, they end up living in isolation, the gift of their tattoos given by the queen’s favor.  Even more, Etaín has a strange link to a dragon, one her mother bargained with for protection.

Once you get past the sex, you have about 2/3rd’s of a book – an interesting story that gets washed out by all the ‘white noise’ of tangled bodies and screaming climaxes.  Eamon, the elf Lord and one of her lovers balks at her father still asking for Etaín’s help ‘reading’ memories of crime victims.  Cathal Dunne, son of the crime boss who disdains the family business is her human mate (Story told in Bk 1 and far better done).  Is what he dragged her into with his father and uncle’s search for vengeance what caused the latest threat on her life and that of her old friends from back in the day when she was a street kid herself?

Eamon, being ‘Lord’, is unaccustomed to having his orders disobeyed.  Etaín long ago developed a disdain for anyone’s orders.  Eamon is also concerned that Etaín has not yet ‘claimed’ him as a mate, as she has Cathal.  Cathal has an instinctive dislike for following anyone’s orders but his own.  He would not be part of his father and Uncle’s criminal empire and resents the fact that Etaín seems to need and love Eamon as much as she does him.  And the whole world of Elves and magic still seems surreal to him, but recognizes she needs these people to be safe.  So two men, each resenting the other’s place in Etaín’s life, but Eamon more willing to accept the need she has for them both.

Etaín’s ‘father’ – the man who raised her when her mother abandoned her as a child even though she was not his, wants her help in the gangland killings that took the life of a man she knows well.  Eamon resents ‘the Captain’, the way he wields guilt to get Etaín to do things he knows will cost her dearly – and tries to take her away from Eamon and Cathal.  Eamon is worried.  Changlings can suddenly draw so much power they are out of control, then he, as Lord, must have them killed.  Etaín is even more feared for being a ‘Mind Thief’, a talent that terrifies Elves under the best of circumstances.

The plot is actually quite strong and interesting, but the telling of the story gets choppy as it’s interrupted time and again for another sex scene.  I found myself skipping pages so I could get on with the story without losing the thread of plot.  (Honestly, are those the only functioning organs they own?)  While some of the sex scenes have a purpose in the storyline, most don’t.  One of the best and most interesting characters to be introduced in Inked Destiny is Cage.  The other major storyline shift concerns Etaín’s mother and the being who helped her – the green dragon.  With so many different plot elements going with major and secondary characters, Ms Stong needed to focus on weaving them together in what could have been an enthralling and complex whole, but was all too often an uneven series of loosely related vignettes held by the slenderest of threads.

Books of this genre are meant to leave questions that can only be answered in the next book, but overall story arc was obscured by all the side plots with secondary characters and sex scenes, leaving a rather messy trail for the reader to follow.  Perhaps my expectations were set too high after Inked Magic, where the strong story line and sex merged into a cohesive wholeRegardless, I found Inked Destiny less satisfying and not as well told a tale.  Having waited nearly a year for this book, I was disappointed.

No question, it is difficult to seamlessly combine erotic romance and urban fantasy.  The two genres do mix easily.  Only a few writers seem to really master that gift.  Inked Destiny left me with a ‘been there, done that’ feeling through too much of the book and frustrated me with rushed events happening concurrently.   Overall, Inked Destiny got a C (3*) from me.  It was a less satisfying second act after an excellent start in Book 1, Inked Magic.  The language and romance are at the erotic level and will certainly appeal to erotic romance readers more than paranormal/UF readers.

Recommend in addition or insteadLauren Dane’s Witch’s Knot, de la Vega Cats, Cascadia Wolves, and Bound by Magic series, Kalayna Price’s Alex Craft series, Jennifer Ashley’s Shifter’s Unbound series, or Jenn Bennett’s  Acadia Bell series.




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