GENRE: PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Phantom Pleasures by Julie Leto introduces Alexa Chandler, the CEO of a luxury hotel chain who has found the ultimate project. Like most women, she has dreamed of being swept off her feet by a handsome man and whisked away to a romantic castle. Now she has inherited an island with a castle that she intends to turn into a luxury hotel. The castle, however, is already occupied... sort of. In the 1700's, Damon Forsyth was trapped in a portrait by dark magic and has been waiting centuries for someone to release him from his prison. Once Alexa gets Damon out of the painting, then the trouble really starts. The source of the magic that had been used to imprison Damon is being pursued by a secret sect who will stop at nothing to possess it.
I love romances and I love supernatural story lines so I was excited about reading this book when I read the summary. Things were looking promising until Alexa showed up. At that point, the dialogue took a nose dive into camp and never really recovered. Add several rauchy sex scenes and I felt like I'd stumbled into the literary version of a porno. I know what you're thinking. What's the difference between a porno and a romance novel? Good question. One uses what little plot there is to set up the next sex scene while the other uses a sex scene to advance the plot and show developing intimacy between the characters. The chemistry between the two main characters never really sparked either, they seemed too busy using each other to get to know each other. This book is actually the first in a series. Too bad I have no interest in reading the others.
BEST FEATURE: The idea. This story had so much potential... trapping several heroes in objects that have been lost. It's not a unique plot device, but I always find it interesting.
WORST FEATURE: The dialogue. It was too stilted... especially between the main characters. Reading it was like watching a movie with bad actors.
PARENTAL WARNING: numerous explicit sex scenes and some violence; best for adults only
MY RATING: 1.5 - a few good plot twists at the end kept this one afloat, but there is very little to recommend it.