Landscapes by KD Grace
Smashwords and KDP, 2016
I have a rough formula for writing reviews. Usually I’ll begin with a paragraph or two to put the book I’m reviewing into a personal context. For example, I might discuss my overall feelings about a particular sub-genre, or mention other works I’ve read by the same author. Next, I provide a brief summary of the story, to give readers some notion about the characters and plot, at a sufficiently general level that I don’t create spoilers. Finally, I’ll proceed to my evaluation of the book, discussing issues like the originality of the premise, the plausibility of the characters, the quality of the writing, and so on.
In this review, I’m going to cut to the chase. KD Grace’s novella Landscapes is, quite simply, one of the best pieces of paranormal erotica I’ve read in a very long time. Ms. Grace’s eloquent, sensual prose weaves a spell that pulls you into the shadowy world of vampire Alonso Darlington and turns his desperate, reluctant, indirect pursuit of landscaper Reese Chambers into a pulse-pounding, breath-stealing fever dream. Although Alonso is a traditional blood-drinker in some ways, the author ventures off the well-trodden path of the vampire romance genre by including a third character who is neither vampire nor human. I won’t explain Talia—you should have the pleasure of discovering her secrets on your own—but her presence gives the story a distinctive twist that I found extremely satisfying. Indeed, I’d love to see a sequel focusing on this intriguing female.
Magic suffuses every page of Landscapes. Power flows not only from Alonso’s and Talia’s supernatural endowments but also from the earth itself—mysterious, fertile, wild and treacherous. The book is set in rural Cumbria. Ms. Grace does a wonderful job evoking the rough beauty of this region as well as the dangers of its precipices and abandoned mine shafts. Reese is mortal, but his strong connection to the land makes him especially sensitive to its magic. Effective paranormal fiction should evoke both wonder and terror. Landscapes generously fulfills this promise.
You might be puzzled by the fact that in the paragraphs above, I have referred to this book as both “erotica” and “romance”. Landscapes doesn’t fit neatly into either box. It’s labeled as “gay erotica”, but the focus is on the loving relationship that develops between Alonso and Reese, a connection that transcends the physical from its very beginning. At the same time, the book breaks romance rules because both male characters interact sexually with Talia. Indeed, the term “gay” is a misnomer, since neither Alonso nor Reese is attracted solely to males.
This ambiguity might frustrate some readers. I loved it. As a long-time critic of restrictive genre labels, I’m always thrilled when I read a book that blurs the boundaries in this way. It takes a brave author to follow her inspiration beyond the limits set by the market. KD Grace trusts her erotic and artistic intuitions, with surprising and arousing results.
(I received a free copy of this book in return for an objective review.)