by Lani Aames

March 2003
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Lusty Charms:Invictus happened in a New York minute, and quite frankly left this reader wanting more!

Invictus Cross lives in Strange Castle, due to a rather harrowing escape from a woman who he once loved and now despises. He is wildly attracted to Serena Blackstone, the “mundane” castle librarian. Mundane meaning she possesses no magick (spelled as it is in the book) power. While Invictus lusts for Serena he won’t allow himself to become involved with her due to his proclivities, that he fears will frighten her away.

Serena Blackstone came to Strange Castle via her friend Celeste, who is a witch, and curator of Strange Castle. She’s wanted Invictus since she first laid eyes on him, and on one particular evening, armed with a trick or two up her sleeve she plans to seduce Invictus! Serena is the recipient of a surprise or two, and a night filled with passion. Can Serena convince Invictus she’s his kind of girl?

Okay, I’m going to be blatantly honest here and tell you that I was gravely disappointed in this read. This was a very short format, but still so much more could have been explored. Invictus lives in Strange Castle because of a past lover who tried to kill him when she turned to the Darkside, but what is Strange Castle all about? How did Strange Castle come into existence, and why do only a few people know about it? I wanted to wander the halls with Invictus to find out, but I didn’t get the chance.

How did Invictus come into being? Was he hatched? What the heck possessed Serena to move to the castle, other than her friend and curator of the castle Celeste? An adventure is what Serena claims, but where does Serena come from and what sort of adventure brings you to a Victorian era castle with no electricity? If questions are what you’re looking for this is the book to read.

The bright side for me was that these characters were intriguing and I really wanted to learn more about them. Invictus and Serena had very little time to convince me they were meant for anything other than a sexual liaison, but as individuals they were fascinating. The castle communications and other assorted forms of magic left me wanting more!

Those very questions and the loose ends left me to wonder if indeed this is a prelude to a series. I would love to find out. With a bit more information and some character background this might have been a better read. The premise is a strong one, and certainly deserved more attention. The author shows great promise; this reader will be looking for more of her works in the future.

Reviewed in April 2003 by Connie.

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