Beyond Innocence

Beyond Seduction

Catching Midnight

Courting Midnight

Demon's Daughter

In the Flesh

Personal Assets

Prince of Ice

Strange Attractions

by Emma Holly
(Berkeley Sensation, $14.00, NC-17) ISBN 978-0-425-21705-4
The very least one can say about Emma Holly's Fairyville is that it lives up to its marketing label. This erotic paranormal romance offers the perfect blend of all three elements. The Fairyville setting and the unusual characters provide the paranormal twist. With three men and one woman willing to indulge in all their sexual fantasies, there is no lack of eroticism. Most importantly, Holly doesn't forget romance.  While the sex is hot, hot, hot and the characters eager to engage with different partners and positions, there is more to this story than a series of physical experiments. Fairyville also gives us two moving love stories about people who are ready to make the most noble sacrifice in the name of love.

Zoe Clare communes with dead people and fairies. An unusual trait to be sure, but not something that strikes most of the inhabitants of Fairyville, Arizona as particularly strange. They are used to the strange energies that surround the town , and they are surprisingly tolerant about the odd happenings, at least most of the time.

Zoe's extra-special gift hasn't, however, been much help with her love life. She has been pining for her landlord and manager Magnus Monroe for quite a while. Although Magnus has an unusually strong sex drive and has gone through most women in the town, he's always backed away from Zoe. As we soon discover, he has excellent and even honorable reasons for doing what he does, but this doesn't help Zoe. So when the man who broke her teenage heart drives back into town, she isn't adverse to some sexual healing.

Alexander Goodbody, however, hasn't arrived alone. He is investigating a possible baby-switch at Fairyville Hospital and is accompanied by his business partner and fellow investigator Bryan McCallum. Sex has recently become an additional factor in their longstanding friendship. Although Bryan understands that theirs isn't an exclusive relation, he's not exactly happy to discover that Alex never got over his old flame.

Meanwhile, Zoe realizes she would like some payback from the man who betrayed her so many years ago as well as from the man who appears to be running away from her now. This makes her (and Bryan and  Alex and Magnus) more than ready to explore old intimacies and test drive new ones. By the time the different couples (and triangles and quartets) have finally straightened out their different messes, they have also acquired new insights into their sexuality and relationships, solved the mystery that has been plaguing Fairyville and resolved the dilemma that has been troubling Magnus.

The characters are the main strength of this original book. For all their physical allure and sexual stamina, they aren't studs and stallions: they are people who are aware how much their love can hurt themselves and the other. Magnus's willingness to literally put himself in the line of fire for Zoe is particularly inspiring, but I also found Alex's struggles to come to terms with his treachery surprisingly touching. Both Zoe and Brian won points when they acknowledged that love has to have a backbone.

I cannot close this review without paying tribute to Holly's excellent writing. Her eye for details and her clean, euphemism-free prose make her one of the best writers in genre that is frequently castigated for its bad grammar and purplish tinge. Clearly, Fairyville is not for readers who steer away from more risqué accounts, but for those interested in dabbling in well-crafted and well-written erotica, it comes very highly recommended indeed.  

--Mary Benn

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