Author: J. Hali Steele
Publisher: Loose ID
Rating: 2.5 stars
Type: Standalone Novella
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Ion Toso models and poses as a live mannequin. Weary of one-night stands, loneliness threatens to consume him until, while posing in an upscale department store window one evening he sees the perfect woman jump from a cab wearing a fake green flower on her lapel. His dormant body comes to life for the world to see. Once he finds her, convincing her to accept everything he is, even the part no one dares look at twice will not be easy. Ion is an Essentiant—an immortal creature who steals and devours souls of human vermin.
Sandy Brittingham hasn’t been out on a date for months yet pretending to enjoy another aimless blind date is intolerable. Unable to bear the thought of murmuring polite lies at the end of the night forces her to act recklessly. Before she’s seated, she snatches off the fake green flower she wore so the man would know her and tosses it into the trash. Sandy walks out the restaurant and unwittingly into the arms of a thief, but she’s not sure the model who rescues her isn’t worse.
Review: The book begins with the last two known Essentiasts in the world together at a fashion show. Ion, the younger of the two at roughly 400, is a famous high-fashion model known mainly for his mannequin work. Rarely, he will attend live fashion shows but has to count on his partner Dresdan, the other Essentiast, to be there to mind control the crowd so that he can work. He also refuses to allow cameras or for it to be videotaped.
Dresdan doesn’t ever mention his age, only using thinly veiled criticism at Ion which hints that his much advanced age allows him to do much more than Ion can. He’s tired of Ion’s meaningless career in fashion and is exhausted with having to protect him while he’s doing it. He feels they should be doing something much more with their time and talents. He doesn’t understand why Ion can’t shake the loneliness and desire for human companionship and move to the next level of their ‘power’ or Essentiant-ism. He prefers being a doctor and wants Ion to do it again too. He leaves the fashion show after helping Ion mind-control the crowd with a warning–he’s at the end of helping him with this minor, meaningless crap. Next time, he may not help.
Ion hops a cab and moves to his next job. He poses in the window of a department store — this time just in briefs. He’s famous for being untouchable — impervious to the crowd outside. But he’s never seen the perky ass of Ms Sandy Brittingham, nurse extraordinaire, backing out of a cab, preparing to step forward to meet her blind date in the restaurant down the street. SCHWING goes Ion’s usually sleeping cock and the crowd goes wild! What’s caused Mr. Ice to become aroused? And is that pre-come on the front of those briefs? Yikes? What’s an Essentiast to do?
Run down into the basement, tell Dres and get the heck out of there! He runs down Sandy as she’s abandoning said blind date at the restaurant and follows her home, scaring her shitless while he’s doing it. A whirlwind romance follows, with Sandy not quite sure what’s going on with Ion’s and then Dres’s eyes.
One tiny hitch — Essentiant’s eat bad, evil souls and if they have alcohol–OOPS!–even a slight taste from another’s lips, the evil soul they’ve recently swallowed, if not properly digested, will manifest itself over them and take over. Hello Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde! Sandy finds out the hard way one evening and is rescued by Dres. However, this doesn’t stop their relationship. But what would? I mean, look at that cover!? And the descriptions of the sex are graphic and hot! But…
I was sooooo confused! I understand that sometimes when reading a book I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I couldn’t figure out why Dres was mind controlling the crowds and the people. And why they were so worried about how Sandy saw him? Then, I thought–maybe his real form is a green monster and he has to affect a “glamour” so that people can’t see the real him? Maybe? And why Dres’s cutting remarks in the opening about makeup not helping Ion when all the crowd would see was an aging model with lines? I swear I had to re-read the beginning four times and it still didn’t make sense so I just plowed on.
I really wanted to read this novella because the premise was so alluring. A bored-with-life mannequin model in a store window becomes aroused by a passerby, re-sparking his libido and interest in life. Loved the idea. AND the cover kicked serious ASS . For me, the writing just did not make clear enough the world they were living in, and the details of an Essentiant’s life. And I just didn’t buy the relationship between Sandy and Ion. Maybe it was because it was a novella; maybe it was because there was a lack of description about what was going on; or maybe I was incoherent with lack of sleep and just didn’t see the clues. But I think it was B.