Thursday, February 20, 2014

ARC Review: THE DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND (The Devil's Playthings #1) by Laura Oliva

THE DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND (The Devil's Playthings, #1)
Source:  ARC ebook provided by author for an honest review
Genre:  Serialized Romance
Length:  Novella
Reviewed by:  Artemis

Professional burlesque dancer Francesca "Frankie" Strong has learned the hard way: on San Francisco's cutthroat party circuit, crime has a way of going unnoticed. When her best friend is brutally attacked, she's determined not to let the case fall through the cracks, even if that means crawling through every alley and back room in San Francisco to find the truth.

Undercover cop Johnny Marsden is in desperate need of a win. His career on the rocks, he's infiltrated the infamous nightclub Cafe Outré, rumored front for San Francisco's Chinatown mafia. Johnny has never seen anything like the glitter-and-sin-encrusted world he's now a part of. He's certainly never met anyone like Frankie Strong.

Realizing they'll get farther together than on their own, Frankie and Johnny forge an uneasy partnership. Neither expects the heat that flares between them. Neither is ready for what it could mean. Together, they run down a trail that leads directly to Chinatown, and a faceless terror its residents refuse to name.

Frankie's only interest is in protecting her friend, and she's willing to make a deal with the devil to do it. But Johnny suspects the attack was part of something larger, something darker... and he's right.

RATING:  1 - Oh, no.  I didn't like it.
SEXUAL:  3 Flames

The story centers around Johnny, an undercover cop at Cafe Outre, and Frankie, a burlesque dancer. Frankie's BFF, Cookie, was jumped and beaten right outside of the club one night.  When the police fail to investigate the crime, Frankie takes matters into her own hands.  This gives Johnny the perfect opportunity to work along side of Frankie and investigate the Chinatown underground at the same time.

The Devil's Playground is a serialized romance.  It does not end with a HEA. Not even close to a HFN. I would say it closely resembles a work of gum-shoe serial fiction.

I have no idea when this takes place and this is very frustrating.  No one uses a cell phone, and Johnny drives a motorcycle.  Still, that doesn't give me a frame of reference.  Without knowing a time frame or era of some sort, it's very hard to place these characters.

When Frankie and Johnny meet, they call each other "Slim" and "Steve", respectively, in a verbal sparring.   Oh, great!  If you, Dear Reader, are not familiar with classic B&W films, you will have no earthly idea what this is about.  Not only that, these names are used interchangeably with the "real" ones through the entire story.  Talk about annoying.

At one point during their investigation, Frankie takes Johnny to a decaying part of town to talk to someone.  Once they get there, Frankie starts talking with this person in stanzas from classical literature.  However, this is suppose to be a romance book, not Classic Lit 101 where I'm interpreting Poe, Longfellow, Browning, or Nietzsche.  Yes, I did google a few of the lines out of curiosity.

Because sexual intercourse takes place in the story, according to BBR guidelines, I have to rate this book 3 Flames, Sex with Details, R Rating. Although, personally, I would give it 1 Flame All Show, No Heat.  I cannot say any more without giving HUGE spoilers.

Frankie and Johnny have skeletons in their closets.  It is brought up time and again.  It's the BIG reason Frankie isn't able to let herself get close to Johnny - her dark and terrible secrets.  There were plenty of references to the "past", but nothing concrete.  The tale ends the same way it began.

The Devil's Playground contains brief scenes of interracial f/f.

And, just in case if you were still wondering about SLIM AND STEVE.

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