Some authors simply can do no wrong in my book, and one of ‘em is Erin McCarthy.
So...yeah – as my kids say to make a point – McCarthy first knocked me off my erotic romance-loving feet with a sassy ‘n sexy number called “Houston, We Have a Problem ,” ‘bout an icy-cool surgeon obsessed with a quirky/curvy resident who’s zany in all the right places. And that makes her perfectly imperfect for our hero, especially when he finds himself out of a job and forced to reevaluate everything he knew about his talent, goals and, ooo, baby, one-night-per-conquest style. Um, yeah.
But as millions of other romance fans and I got to know McCarthy over the next couple years and reads, we realized we were hard pressed to know everything there was about her talent and anything-she-touches-turns-to-sexy-gold storytelling.
First, she wowed us with her Vegas Vampire series, as she intro’d us to the high-stylin’ lives of vampire casino sophisticates to snappy strippers, up-tight campaign managers and even a man-of-the-evening who’s searching for a cure to his blood-sucking condition. Amidst the backdrop in which Sin City becomes almost a character unto itself, McCarthy weaves sultry sensuality with humor and sweet emotion for a unique riff on the vamp theme we love so well.
Becoming more well loved are novels in which occupations become characters, like the Navy SEALs program, for instance, or a more recent phenom which McCarthy has used to create a wildly romantic and fast-paced celebration of dangerous sex appeal, her Fast Track series surrounding professional racecar drivers. Fans are eagerly anticipating the third – a “married romance” McCarthy hadn’t planned on writing until readers remarked how much they liked a secondary couple whose marriage is on the skids, yet whom seemed still to have strong feelings for one another.
My fave in the series is “Flat-Out Sexy ,” but “Hard and Fast ” ain’t nobody’s idea of anything but a “do not miss.” And, uh, yeah – they live up to the titles and the covers.
Yet while McCarthy’s Vegas Vamps and Fast Track series are joyful and often humorous sexy love stories, McCarthy also delves into the darker side of romance, while still entertaining the drive of the human spirit toward goodness in her intensely engaging, appropriately macabre and gorgeously sensual Seven Deadly Sins series.
In her latest, the seductively eerie and erotically charged "The Taking ," we meet Felix Leblanc, the somewhat unassuming, yet inordinately powerful voodoo priest who made a deal with a demon of greed 150 years before so he could be celebrated throughout 19th Century New Orleans. During that time, he sensually enslaved wealthy women with his enticing carnality, and happily bilked them of untold fortunes in the process, until he took advantage of the wrong young woman, and evil and misfortune spun out of his control.
In present-day New Orleans, heiress Regan Henry leaves her oppressive, emotionally abusive husband and begins an empowered new life in a gorgeous 19th Century mansion. As macabre visions and doins occur, Regan turns to Felix and his voodoo skill to help make sense of the unsettling power over her which the house seems to hold.
Yet Felix knows first hand the cause of the evil permeating Regan’s new home; he’s met it, been ruled by it and in some ways created it. In trying to rid Regan’s life of the ugly spirits caused by the poisonous greed he nurtured as a younger man, Felix may give up his chance at ever being free of the penance he’s paying. And even if he could give his life for hers, at best, he might be consigning them to equally horrible fates.
What cities seem like "characters" to you in romances? What do you love about Erin McCarthy's novels, and what are some of your favorites?