Title: Oleander House
Author: Ally Blue
Warnings: NC-17. Strongly graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Disturbing imagery, particularly in Sam’s dreams.
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS AND STRONG OPINIONS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Let me just preface this review by saying that I really did WANT to like this book. It had, from a quick glance at the cover copy and the first couple of pages, all the things that I truly enjoy seeing in a romance/horror novel. It had a paranormal investigative element. It had a lovely, nicely drawn Southern setting that made me want to go live in a rambling old house and hunt ghost. Sam and Bo had palpable chemistry and enough UST to cause a small earthquake, and the secondary characters were just as intriguingly quirky as the main characters. There was some overly clunky exposition, mostly concerning Sam’s past, but I was willing to overlook that for a good ghost story with some sexy boys full of angst and sexual tension.
Then, around page 82, my interest started seriously flagging. Sam’s primary character trait at this point was his unrequited love/lust for Bo, which would have been fine had there not also been several pointless scenes where it seemed like all of the characters had long, meaningless discussions that seemed like they were merely there to take up space. Sam had a lot of dreams, which were primarily about sex and ghosts. Near the middle, though, both plots started picking up pace again, so I assumed that this little lull had been just a one-off, and that the rest of the book would live up to my expectation of it.
Right up to the last twenty or so pages. Which basically took the entire book and tossed it down the drain. Which is where the incredibly stupid antagonist and the ridiculously easy fix should have ended up. I was going to give this book 3 stars until I got to the end, for being an enjoyable and sizzling distraction!read at work, but that ending dragged it right down, despite the fact that Bo and Sam were almost kind of together by the end and appear to be headed toward a HFN ending if not an HEA. For the sake of that, I will read the next book in the series, but I can only hope that Miss Blue becomes more adept at bringing her stories to a satisfying conclusion.
- There is a ton of angsty romance, which is awesome if you’re into that sort of thing.
- I love the Southern mansion setting, especially with the paranormal investigative edge.
- There is one scene on page 104 where I literally punched the air on Sam’s behalf (at work, no less!), when he confronts Bo and basically tells him to either shut up and kiss him already or back off. In that single instant, Sam grew a backbone and I loved it.
- I loved Cecile as a psychic.
- The prose is often peppered with bad, clunky exposition, particularly in the beginning.
- Sam is often characterized solely by his desire to jump Bo’s bones.
- Many scenes have no real point and seem like they are mostly intended as filler.
- The ending was terrible. I mean, seriously. Aliens? That, despite being terrifying, ancient creatures that otherwise have been completely invincible, can merely be pushed away by the power of Sam’s mind? I don’t think so. It seemed like the author realized how ridiculous this was and quickly threw out a happy ending for the romance, but a little bit of boykissing does not make up for such a terrible example of deus ex machina.
Stars: 2.5 out of 5.
Final Grade: C. Will probably not reread. Other books in series will be low priority.