Sunday, July 25, 2010

Puppy Love 3: Reawakening by Jeff Erno

I reviewed Puppy Love and Puppy Love 2 at my Book Series Review blog, but I'm going to review the third book over here.

I said that the story in the first two books had a good story, but the writing needed a lot of help. Unfortunately, the third book needs major writing help, and the story isn't as good. My biggest issue with the writing is the telling and retelling (and retelling) of things. It's like a sports commentator, you watch it happen and then the commentator tells you what happened. No, that's not quite right. Perhaps more like a political debate - you watch the debate and then the commentators tell you what was said again and add in their own explanations of the meaning behind what was said. It's almost like the author is writing a book to try to convince you why a Master/slave relationship is okay, he keeps explaining and convincing, but if you've made it to the third book then my guess is that you're already mostly okay with that kind of relationship and don't need the constant convincing that the relationship is not wrong.

I was happy to see the relationship between Matt and Petey growing and the parties becoming more mature. I was sad to see the intensity of the relationship go away, but I realize that's how it works when you move in with each other -- you have to merge the fantasy in with real life and find a way to make it work. When you only see each other a few times a week it's not so hard to keep the intensity up... but when you wake up with the person every morning, it's impossible to keep the intensity going 24/7. People have good days and bad days, sick days and tired days. Life happens. It's okay that the intensity wasn't the same. Jeff Erno is trying to show a realistic relationship, and I think he mostly did what he set out to do.

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline: There are times when Petey would have been disciplined in earlier books that nothing happened in book 3. I think there is only one actual punishment, and it's pretty anticlimactic. There is a scene punishment, but even that gets cut short. There is very little bondage.
  • Dominance and Submission: Yes, Matt is still Dom and Petey is still submissive. They are working towards how to balance that with the everyday, and there is a good bit of time where the D/s fades into the background - it's still there, but not front and center.
  • Sadism and Masochism: None between Matt and Petey. There is a little S&M (very, very little), and that's all I can say about it without spoilers.

As for the writing elements - let me first say, again, that the writing here is very amateurish. I'm trying very hard to say this without being mean. The story is good, but you need to have a certain level of writing skill in order to get the story across. When you purchase a book you expect the writer to have worked on their craft. Yes, even for erotica.

There is no one single plot - other than the continuation of the relationship. Some plots from earlier books get handled: the situation with Matt's parents and the legal stuff with Ryan are probably the two biggest threads, but there are some others here and there. It's not a great plot, but it's still a decent story. So, I won't say the plot is bad, just that there isn't a single large plot as the focus, other than the growth of the relationship. One of the plot resolutions was very fantastical to me, and that bothered me.

There were serious pacing issues this time. I skimmed large portions of the book, especially the parts where he's just telling us (again) what just happened, even though we just read what happened. There are also a lot of info dumps, and a ton of "telling not showing". Pacing was bad.

Prose was also bad, but dialogue was mostly okay. I rated character development as excellent in the previous books (that's what carried the story, to be honest), but I have to say it's just good in the third book, not excellent.

The sex smoked in the first two books, it was mostly okay in the third book.

Book Rating: Puppy Love 3: 4 of 10
Heat Level: Puppy Love 3:  3 of 5

The focus of Puppy Love 3 is more on relationships, not on sex. There are a few sex scenes, and one really really hot scene. Thus the Heat Level of 3, when the first two books were a 5 of 5. There are also no watersports in the third book - has Matt decided to stop that? If so, there needed to be an explanation of why it was stopped. If it wasn't stopped, then why wasn't it mentioned as still happening? That was a large part of the earlier books, and a huge part of Petey's journey into submission. If Matt decided to stop it for health reasons it should have been explained, and if it was still going on then that should have been part of the book. Didn't have to be a major part of it, could have just been a mention when it happened, but you can't just stop doing something that major without mentioning why.

Jeff Erno's site does not say whether there will be a Puppy Love 4 or not. I do not believe I'll read it, if there is one. I like Matt and Petey, and I appreciate their relationship, but the writing needs serious help. As I said before, Jeff Erno tells a good story, and he's got a good understanding of both the emotions and the physical stuff - many authors either get the physical stuff mostly okay but blow it on the emotions... or get the emotions right but blow it on the physical stuff. Jeff Erno gets both, but... again, I'm really trying very hard to say this nicely... but he needs to work on the craft. Writing is an art form -- coming up with the stories and the characters is a huge part of it, but having the skill to weave it into a story is also a huge part of it.

1. Puppy Love
2. Puppy Love 2: Building a Family
3. Puppy Love 3: Reawakening

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