Review: Dark Leopard Magic, by Sapphire Phelan
Orphaned a 16, Dev has lead a difficult and lonely life as a transient wereleopard shifter. Montsho, alpha of his African wereleopard pard, has known only women and is uncomfortably surprised to find that the Dreaming has brought him news of a male as his mate. While Dev helps Montsho learn to accept and become comfortable in their new relationship, he discovers a mystery that hits too close to home to ignore. These two strong-willed men will face more than just social struggles on their journey together. This story is erotic and sweet, but the writing is a little lacking in finesse.
- Title: Dark Leopard Magic
- Series: n/a
- Author: Sapphire Phelan
- Prominent Characters: Dev & Montsho
- Recommended reader age: 18+
- Sexual content level: heavy and explicit (vulgar language typical of erotica)
- Classification: m/m erotica
***** CONTENT ALERT: This is a review of a male/male erotica book. If anything about that statement offends you or if you have delicate sensibilities, you may consider skipping this review. Nothing here is crude or explicit, but some of the visuals evoked might be disturbing to you. Consider yourself warned. =) *****
The story starts out with a quick and dirty (and a little gruesome!) waltz through Dev’s past, told in jaded, sharp-tongued first-person. The second chapter unexpectedly changes to the first-person perspective of Montsho (communicated only by the chapter title) after awakening from a disturbing erotic Dreaming of Dev. I like the idea that one of the men in this relationship has to be willing to go way outside his comfort zone in order to find the happiness they’ve been promised. That said, however, I don’t feel there was enough of a struggle for Montsho before he caves to the inevitable and starts declaring his love. I found it fairly unrealistic that a seemingly-straight man would allow another strange guy he’s basically just met to do things to him that he’s never even thought about before… but hey, it’s erotica, right? Isn’t that sort of the point? Yeah, agreed, but I think there could have been a much stronger build-up of sexual tension between them before the first penetration happens, and (true to the romantic stereotype) there seems to be absolutely no physical repercussions of these new (and heavily repeated!) activities. ”But they’re shifters – they heal fast!” Sure, they heal fast, but they still feel pain and they still have at least a small recovery time. Meh, who reads this stuff for realism?! Not I… *wink*
For those who are adamantly opposed to sex scenes with humans and animals, know that there is some borderline beastiality in this book. It feels carefully written, so that they’re never human/cat (not for very long anyway) but always human/human or cat/cat. I didn’t really get much out of the cat/cat parts, but they aren’t that plentiful or as explicit and are always paired with the human scenes. The human/human scenes are definitely explicit but not overly long. There is a good mix of passion and tenderness, and a decent dominance tradeoff between the two “alpha” males.
The dual first-person perspective is an interesting writing technique that I haven’t seen much of, and Ms. Phelan uses it effectively to express the dichotomy of personality between our two heroes. Dev most definitely identifies more with his leopard than with his human side, and he makes no apologies for it… wild, careless, and without roots is how he prefers to live. Montsho is a respected pard leader and enforcer, cognizant of his impact on those around him, and takes comfort in the structure and familiarity of his pard. However, the dialogue occasionally teeters between childish and preachy, sometimes resulting in a stuffy feel to the conversations. The sexual vocabulary is also awkward and cheesy at times, taking me out of the moment to try to process what I’ve read and understand what context the author intended it in. There was a fair amount of snickering over terms like “ambrosia” and “nectar”.
But it sucks so good! (I know I know, I just couldn’t resist this one…)
We were a perfect, blazing circle of suck.
If you like Dark Leopard Magic…
If you enjoyed Dark Leopard Magic for its shapeshifting and paranormal storyline, you may also like the books in the Psy/Changeling series (starting with Slave to Sensation) by Nalini Singh. Ms. Singh has created a rich world of shifters, mentally-gifted Psy, humans, and all the passion and politics that comes with the mix.
If you liked Dark Leopard Magic for its male/male erotically explicit romance, you might enjoy The Vampire Queen series by Joey W. Hill, particular books 5 and 6 which star Gideon and Daegan. Now if you’ve read those books, I know what you’re probably thinking… “but those books are really more about a F/M/M BDSM threesome than a M/M romance!” and yes, that’s absolutely true. I haven’t read much M/M erotica yet, so I’ll probably have more appropriate recommendations for you in the next few months. =)
The opening of the book is a story of survival, a young man’s acceptance of his beast and his struggle to live alone in a human world he knows little about. It’s initially difficult to identify with Dev because of his cavalier and violent attitude toward humans, even with regards to sex. There’s a pretty disturbing scene before he meets Montsho that involves a little dismembering – best not to let your guy friends read that bit. The story feels a little loose but I can see where Ms. Phelan was going with it, and the relationship and chemistry between the characters, while accelerated a little too early in my opinion, was strong enough to overpower the plot. As it should be, with erotica. =)
I would have liked to give this a rating of 4, but there are just too many spelling and grammar mistakes that took me completely out of my headspace, and the dialogue turned awkward a little too often. Some people may think this review and analysis is overkill for a story classified as “erotica”, so to all the unenlightened I say this: read the Vampire Queen series by Joey Hill and then tell me you don’t think a high standard has been set for the genre of paranormal erotica!
If male/male erotica is your thing, grammar and spelling don’t phase you, and you’re just in it for the smexy, you will probably enjoy this book. Dev and Mont definitely have chemistry and there’s a little mystery and action to be had as well.
|3.5 fangs: Bite worthy!|
*Original review done for The Forbidden Bookshelf. Go here to see it.
http://www.sapphirephelan.com/ (Sapphire Phelan’s website)
http://www.nalinisingh.com/ (The Psy/Changeling series website)
http://www.storywitch.com/ (The Vampire Queen series website)
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