Fantasy by Lori Foster
(Harlequin Temptation #675, $3.75, R)
ISBN 0-373-25775-9
***
Most of the time when I see a Temptation "BLAZE" book, the ones advertised to be "Red-hot reads ...", I don't believe it. However, when I see that Lori Foster is the author, I'm a believer. In the two Blazes I've read of hers, she writes the category equivalent of erotica. Putting in the disclaimer of 'category' means that it's still tame by single title standards, just spicy for a category. For some, it might be too much. Not for me, though.

The story starts as Sebastian Sinclair (love that name) and some fellow hunks are being bought and sold at a charity auction, the proceeds going to a women's shelter. On stage, Sebastian focuses on a woman who's staring at him from the audience. The attraction is mutual.

Brandi Sommers is mesmerized as she feels herself becoming sexually aware of a man for the first time in eight years. Brandi, raped when she was eighteen, has never dared become intimate since then. She can fantasize about Sebastian, though. Wait! The fantasy becomes a reality when Brandi's sister has the high bid for Sebastian and gives him to Brandi. Besides Sebastian, a five-day stay at a resort is included.

At first Sebastian is confused. Brandi gives off mixed signals and her warm/cold attitude confuses and angers him. He senses a shyness and reticence but has no idea that her fear comes from the remnants of a woman's worst nightmare. When Brandi finally tells Sebastian about the rape, a rape made more traumatic because three men were involved, he now understands her erratic behavior and immediately changes his behavior. No longer is he the overt hunter, but a sympathetic and still very interested male.

I would have loved this book if the theme of rape had been treated more sensibly. I don't think that rape victims fall into someone's arms after a two-day acquaintance, especially if that someone is muscular and exudes sensuality. I don't care if he is the hero and the man of her dreams let's treat the subject with more seriousness and sensitivity. More realism would have enhanced this story.

Also, the author falls back on the old plot device of "He's wonderful and much, much, too good for old flawed me who'll never be special enough to be in the same room with him, much less spend the rest of my life with him." My gosh, Sebastian has done everything but sky write that he loves her. Rape doesn't make someone dense.

I do hope that Brandi's sister Shay shows up as the heroine in her own book. A lovely woman who makes the pronouncement that she's through with men needs her own story.

If you want a book that is sexy and tempestuous, then Fantasy is the book for you. If you want a book that treats rape victims accurately, then Fantasy might not be your book. I've only read one memorable book dealing with the trauma of rape. That book was Cherish this Moment by Sandra Canfield and was much more accurate. It took the hero months to convince the heroine to become intimate. Here it takes about two days.

I enjoyed Fantasy, especially the parts where Sebastian relinquishes all sexual control and lets Brandi act out her fantasies. He's wonderfully kind and considerate at these times. When these people are in bed, this book is humming. Too bad the intimacy scenes aren't longer.

--Linda Mowery


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