Title: Dark Angels: Happy Hanukkah
Author: Z. Allora
Cover Artist: Deana C. Jamroz
Publisher: MLR Press
Buy Link: Amazon
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novella (36,000 words)
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by jeayci
Review Summary: Fans of this series will probably enjoy this story as an opportunity to spend more time with characters you like, but it didn’t really work for me.
Blurb: What do you get when you cross a hot rock and roll band with a bag of sex toys? The Dark Angels: Happy Hanukkah.
What do kinky sex toys and Hanukkah have to do with each other? Absolutely nothing unless you’re a member of the famous rock band The Dark Angels and the quiet Robin presents his band members with gifts guaranteed to spice up the holidays! Each couple makes the most of these unique gifts blending love and orgasmic fun to REALLY celebrate the festival of lights. As the band is playing with their toys, Andrew and Zack are still circling each other without resolution. Maybe a present from the fairy keyboard player will get them in the right frame of mind.
Review: I loved the first story in this series, though I had some major issues with it. Since they were issues that could be resolved with better editing, I dove optimistically into the second. That turned out to have the same issues as the first, but they bothered me more. So I skipped the third book, tempted though I was when it came out. Because although I had issues with the editing (and sequel-baiting epilogues), I found the characters and stories appealing. Not everyone can tell a good story, but Z. Allora definitely can. Unfortunately, for me the good story seems to get lost in the bad editing.
But hope springs eternal and Hanukkah stories are not exactly common. So a Hanukkah story featuring appealing characters turned out to be irresistible And that’s where I made the real mistake: I expected this to be a Hanukkah story. I think that’s not an unreasonable expectation, considering the title. It did start with a Hanukkah party, at which the candles were lighted and the prayer recited. And there were gifts exchanged over eight nights, but that was the extent of the Hanukka-ness. There was nothing to do with being Jewish, or being not-Jewish and celebrating a Jewish holiday.
Given the emphasis on kinky sex toys in the blurb, I wasn’t really surprised that this story was basically PWP. Those eight nights were solely about the exchange of kinky gifts and commencing sexytimes, but I was surprised that there wasn’t even as minimal a nod to the holiday as lighting the candles after the first night. Similarly, the first sentence explicitly mentions Santa Cruz, which made me think I’d recognize the setting. However, the Bay Area was no more recognizable a part of this story than Hanukkah, so I was doubly disappointed.
I also struggled with the lack of commas. They were so scarce, I actually searched to see if I could find any that were not associated with dialog tags. I found a few; too few. It made it difficult at times to understand what was happening, or who was subject and who was object in a given sentence.
There were also some confusing POV shifts, and Autonomous Body Parts acting without consent or knowledge of the people to whom they were presumably attached. And, as in the first two books I read, there was blatant sequel-baiting and some bizarre word choices that pulled me out of the story as I tried to figure out what was intended. Here are some examples of the sort of things that bothered me:
“The invading cock became more urgent in its entrances and exits.”
“Turning he smiled as he ignored the clattering sounds he heard from the supply closet. He had a good mind to let them stumble out right into their mommies lap but he couldn’t be that much of an asshole to either of them.”
If those snippets don’t bother you and you’re not looking for a Hanukkah story, you may very well enjoy this one. Especially if you like reading about hot rockers getting kinky with toys (and, really, who doesn’t?). So although this story didn’t really work for me, I think it could work for others.