Title: Her Sanctuary
Author: P. Q. Glisson
Publisher: iUniverse, Inc., 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4502-0226-8 (sc)
ISBN: 978-1-4502-0227-5 (ebk)
Length: 300+ pages
Genre: Erotic Romance
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Shannon Mallory parks her RV at the back of the parking lot of The Last Chance Café in the town of Sanctuary. We immediately know she’s running away from something. And it’s not long before the author reveals Shannon has been working on healing the marks, both mental and physical, of an abusive marriage. Her decision to spend her dead husband’s money on her version of a Bucket List is a nice touch.
Inside the café, Seth Proudfoot sits alone and unapproachable in his own form of hiding. He has lost his wife and son in a car crash. Seth, the villagers, and even the members of his own reservation blame him for the accident. Seth is a doctor but hasn’t practiced since his wife’s death. He’s a ghost locked away in an emotionless world of gray.
Both Shannon and Seth are nearing the end of their personal journeys (but they don’t know this). So, when their eyes meet across the dining room of The Last Chance Café, it’s a surprise to them, and possibly to the reader, that it’s love at first sight. No courting, no hangups, instant love and burning passion (hot, graphic and frequent sex).
The decision made to remain in Sanctuary, Heather gives her RV to the aging owners of The Last Chance Café (with whom she has become great friends), and she buys their restaurant. Seth, with Heather’s help, begins to renew his relationships with his friends on the reserve and his friends in town.
It isn’t long before Shannon moves in with Seth, spending much of her days painting (she’s very talented) and every other moment passionately loving her man (hot, graphic and frequent sex). However, the author effortlessly shows us how a life begun with passion can turn into something deeper, something life-changing. But P. Q. Glisson also shows us enough conflict, through drama, as well as some taught action scenes, that we get to look more deeply into her characters. One example of this is a girl named Millie, an abused young woman who Shannon takes under her wing, helping the girl break things off with her boyfriend and start an interior decorating business. And, perhaps, the most obvious example is when, late in the novel, Seth burns down the home he has already reshaped and redecorated for Shannon, so that they may truly begin anew.
But something’s missing. We have yet to meet Seth’s best friend, Joseph (and boyfriend of Millie). He’s a clever sociopath who’s determined to make Shannon his own—and to hell with the costs. Having dealt with someone just like him in her “previous life,” Shannon can see right through Joseph. Even so, once Seth is convinced Shannon is right about Joseph, they begin to take precautions. Thus, it would be an understatement to say Shannon is stunned to wake up one morning in an isolated mountain cabin, locked up like a criminal, with Joseph as a demented prison guard. I’ll let you find out the rest when you read the book.
This is P. Q. Glisson’s debut novel, and I wish I could tell you it’s as gripping as my summary suggests. It’s not. However, before I get into negatives, let’s examine what the author did right.
First and foremost, I found the dialogue in Her Sanctuary to be entertaining and compelling. In other words, P. Q. Glisson has the skill and ability to draw us into her story. Next, the author’s cast of supporting characters are so well drawn they own “the stage” while on it and leave us with a lasting image the author can use later by simply invoking the character’s name. Truthfully, there are enough storylines introduced (the characters) that I found myself wondering why the author didn’t sacrifice some of her sex scenes to make Her Sanctuary a more interesting version of this novel. Why she didn’t make those choices may be revealed below…
I’ve read a lot of modern romance, which, by the way, tends to be erotic romance or GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) fiction. Gone are the days of Harlequin’s love without love—if you know what I mean. I relay this to you so you’ll understand why I wasn’t shocked by the graphic and passionate lovemaking that appeared after nearly every scene change in Her Sanctuary. I wasn’t even shocked at some rather inappropriate sex play immediately following Shannon’s rescue from her mountain prison. I’ve learned to expect these things. But I also expect something else.
If you write erotic fiction, I expect that when all the love scenes are removed you will have made the effort to offer us (the reader) a coherent and interesting story. If not, then you’re writing pornography, something I refuse to review.
P. Q. Glisson is guilty of including way too many love scenes in the novel Her Sanctuary. These redundant scenes slow down an otherwise interesting story. The romance between Shannon and Seth also takes on an unrealistic feel. And we just don’t see the kind of character development of the two main characters such a story demands. But it’s not pornography. You can take the love scenes out of this story and be in possession of an interesting if somewhat sketchy novel. The novel is something that can be saved.
And that’s the advice I have for P. Q. Glisson: lighten up on the sex and give your readers a story with more depth, one where you take your characters all the way (to where they want to go). You can write romance, even erotic romance, without sacrificing the “feel” of such a novel. The key is constant story movement (otherwise known as character movement or development). If what you have just written doesn’t do this, take it out back and beat it into shape.
Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye 2011
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