A Guest Review by Raine
Summary Review: An uneven story and a complicated cast with kinky demon BDSM.
Blurb: It sounded like something from one of the graphic novels Jaime Anderson aspires to create, but Arden Kaller is real. Once the lover of Jaime’s older brother, his blood coats Jaime’s lips the first night he hits town when he heals him after Jaime is involved in an altercation in a brick-lined alley. Arden has spent long years studying his amphora, his pot shards. How can a small town boy exert such a hold on him? But it isn’t long before he tricks Jaime into wearing his mystical token.
Jaime’s life is complicated enough just handling classes. Now his guitar-playing friend Mondo turns out to be a werewolf who wants Jaime to be his-and then there is Arden, his dark, dangerous, and slightly nerdy vampire lover.
This book has caused me a headache; parts of it I really liked, in fact the first half I was almost, but not quite all, in favour of it and then I started to feel more unsettled and less comfortable. I think the easiest way of describing my overall impression is that I found it uneven in tone. This arises I feel from the ambitious undertaking of combining three complex elements. Ardent uneasily includes the BDSM world of master and slave or pet, the paranormal world of demons including vampires and werewolves, and the social realism of college in a small town. Now usually all these really work for me, but somehow the mix here is a little curdled.
I was uneasy with Arden’s seduction of young Jaime which I felt was very manipulative. Now you could say duh—demon/vampire that is the nature of the beast. However Arden is described contradictorily both as a dramatic, gorgeous demon and a nerdy archaeologist. The awkward behaviour that embodies this most clearly manifests itself as while trying to soften his demon side, he woos Jaime and this involves looking after Jaime’s diet. I found this an interesting idea of control, but the expression of it was odd. An example is in conjunction with muffins: there is an introduction of master/boy play that leans towards mild humiliation: ” I’ll make roasted peanut muffins if you’ll bring yourself off for me.” Now do you understand my headache?
Jaime is interested in Mondo, a fellow student and alpha werewolf who is very keen to have Jaime for himself. So there is almost a love triangle going on as well. This allows me to quote some of my favourite lines:
” He wants to mount you and fuck you, push his penis inside you while he’s a beast.”
” And that’s different from what you want to do to me how exactly?”
” Well, no fur.”
The resolution to this complication is not one that Bella, Edward and Jake would approve.
Added to this we have an irritating, interfering, best friend and inefficient witch, Elizabeth whose jealousy provokes her to do stupid but plot-necessary things. The cast also includes Lal, a demon/human relationship counsellor and Arden’s sire Sean has a role to play as really bad, torture-loving demon.
As you can tell there are parts of this novel that worked for me. I do enjoy Jan Irving’s rich original imagery, and the description of Arden’s overgrown but Mayan-influenced home is beautifully atmospheric. There is some fun dialogue and real, if confused, affection between Arden and Jaime. But I found the magical elements plot ups and downs very contrived. Moreover, there is some sexual kink involving various manifestations of BDSM that left me more uneasy than interested. So one rather ambivalent and inconclusive review. I really want someone else who has read this to tell me what they think of it!
Ardent contains BDSM involving whipping and mild humiliation.