Anything But Vanilla by Madelynne Ellis
Publisher: Mischief-HarperCollins UK
Other: Menage, anal sex, m/f, f/f, m/m, m/f/m, bondage
Length: Full Length (246 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Stephantois
Why settle for just one man?
Kara North is on the run. Fleeing from her controlling fiancé and a wedding she never wanted, she accepts the chance offer of refuge on wild, rocky Liddell Island, where she soon catches the eye of the island's owner, erotic photographer Ric Liddell. Wickedly sexy by day and just plain wicked by night, Ric rules his domain like a feudal lord. He's used to getting what he wants, without any commitment, and just when Kara thinks she has him hooked, he hides behind a cool, dispassionate mask.
But pleasure comes in more than one flavour when Zachary Blackwater, the charming ice-cream vendor also takes an interest, and wants more than just a tumble in the surf. Zach offers her warmth that she never felt from her ex, and soon it's not just the ice cream that's melting.When Kara learns that the two men have been unlikely lovers for years, she becomes obsessed with the idea of a threesome. Zach is reluctant, until he sees the dynamic effect Kara has on Ric's emotions. She might be the key to finally capturing Ric's heart.
Soon Kara is wondering how she ever considered binding herself to just one man. She's never had so much fun or felt so uninhibited, but just when everything seems so perfect, the man she left behind returns with some very old-fashioned ideas about rescuing her and taking her home to his own idea of wedded bliss.
The title of this book sums it up nicely. Whatever your inklings in erotic romances and erotica, this story has a little bit of everything. It starts with a bang, no pun intended, and we’re quickly introduced to the main character who, refreshingly enough, is running away from her wedding and not being jilted.
I can't pinpoint exactly why but I didn't quite connect with Kara as much as I did with Ric and Zach in this story. Maybe it was because the men already had a relationship together when Kara joins them on the island. While she was interesting, I thought the two men came across as more caring so I felt like I was rooting more for them than her. Having said that, I wasn't disappointed in the way the author chose to end the book.
I really enjoyed the setting of this story…the isolated island on the coast. It added to the atmosphere and fit in well with the plot. There's a couple of running plots in the story, including an individual who threatens the happiness and possible future for Kara, Zach and Ric as a triad. In particular, Ric is the focus of this outside advisary. There's a scene that Ms. Ellis handles very well but it might be disturbing to some readers who tend to avoid any reference to rape.
The dialogue was very realistic and despite this being a full length novel, the pacing was spot on. The action kept going but I felt had the story focused more on characterization, especially for Kara, and less on sub-plots and these characters many interactions, it would have been stronger. I liked the ending and thought it was a satisfying conclusion to the story.