Mona Lisa Craving
by Sunny
(Berkley, $14, NC-17) ISBN  978-0-425-21745-0
Okay, this review is going to sound warped because there is so much wrong with this book.  However, it reads quickly and stands out in the mind after the reading, so it must not be all bad.  In fact, I've found the two previous Mona Lisa books to be the same way, as well as the short story included in the On the Prowl anthology.  They're hard to put down, but they're also hard to justify reading because they're just so much fluff and no substance.

It's hard to call Mona Lisa's life fluffy; she is a queen of the Monere, an ancient race of warriors that traveled to Earth from the moon and thus can only comfortably survive in the dark.  Mona Lisa, however, is the first Mixed Blood queen, so she can be out in the daylight.  This is only one of the many, many, many outstanding abilities she has harnessed - which is pretty impressive, considering that she has only been aware of her Monere heritage for about six months (she was working as a nurse to support her teenage brother before she ascended to her royal position).  

Better yet, the Monere pass their traits along through sex, so everybody wants to sleep with her.  Of course, since she is the only kindhearted Monere queen, everybody wants to sleep with her anyway, especially since another of her talents is healing through intercourse.  So pretty much everybody does.  Sleep with her, that is, despite the fact that Mona Lisa doesn't feel you should give your body up without some deeper feeling than lust.  Or maybe because of it; she can't seem to make up her mind who is best suited for her.

And that brings us to book three of the Monere series, Mona Lisa Craving.  Early on, Mona Lisa, despite her supernatural powers and her rather impressive guard, is kidnapped by a father/son team of Monere warriors.  Several lame fighting sequences later, Mona Lisa is saving a third member of the family, Dante, from the brink of insanity.  Through sex, of course.  Though she had done this merely to save Dante's life, Mona Lisa and Dante are immediately drawn to one another; Mona Lisa even turns away from sex with several of her other men(that's not to say there ISN'T sex with any of her other warriors in this book, just not as much as usual).

 Since Dante's mother is a healer and Mona Lisa's territory is desperately in need of one, she enlists the family to move to her home, where it is discovered that Dante is the direct descendent of the man who slew Mona Lisa in another life and brought a curse upon his family.

Mona Lisa has recently, through several trials in the previous book, become part demon.  She hopes to keep her new demon traits secret, as knowledge of the fact that she is demon living (Sunny's term, not mine) is pretty much a death sentence.  To sidetrack the general public, the High Prince of Hell, Halcyon, one of Mona Lisa's lovers, claims her as his mate.  Because of these new demon traits and the unheard-of nature of her condition, Mona Lisa isn't sure she wants to keep the baby that she and Dante have managed to conceive despite the infertility of the Monere.  Dante feels the child would end his curse, and so Mona Lisa is kidnapped again.  For some reason, he seems to think this will convince her to keep the baby.  Or maybe he just thinks to hold her until it is born; Dante's motives are a little muddled throughout the book.

Well, everybody seems pretty aimless throughout the book, actually.  The main plotline - the curse on Dante and he and Mona Lisa's somewhat-forbidden relationship doesn't stand out much from the general goings-on of Mona Lisa's odd little existence.  Mona Lisa herself, despite all of these new facets to her person, doesn't seem to grow in character, although many of those around her do.  The entire history of Mona Lisa and the Monere is rehashed in this book as in the previous one, so the reader is not left in the dark if this is their first shot at Sunny.  However, the account is drawn out enough to bore readers who have read earlier works by this author.

So, to reiterate, this book isn't advanced in anyway.  It's an amalgamation of as many of the current paranormal series as the author can squeeze into one tome, and the characters are pretty shallow.  Transitions seem to be foreign, and it's sometimes hard to keep up from frame to frame with who the bad guy or lover is at that moment.  BUT, this book will read in a few sittings and keep you entertained throughout. It's exactly like watching a soap opera: you know it's silly, you know it's pointless, and you know it's not going to enrich your life in anyway.  But that's what makes it a guilty pleasure, right?

--Sarrah Knight

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