I write, read and review, I blog frequently and love anything to do with books and writing, including editing. I am a Book Nerd and I wear that badge with pride. http://coffee2words.wordpress.com
Deadly Temptations is the bare bones of what could be a reasonable erotic thriller. I had issues with pacing, issues with the characters, issues with the level of detail provided, issues with the lack of background information provided, and issues with the sex scenes.
Let's break these down...
This is only 40 pages long, so it's going to be quick. That isn't the problem. The issue arose from too many things being crammed into the 40 pages. Either the book needs to be longer to allow for more development or some of the plot twists need to be removed. I felt rushed through the whole story, had no point where I could just take a breath and reflect on the story because the whole time it was 'go-go-go'. This can sometimes work for thrillers, but it does little for the erotic themes.
The biggest flaws with the characters included, that we either knew too much, not enough about them or there were massive discrepancies in character. Given the pressing issue with the length of the story, less about the characters should be ok, but it wasn't.
We were provided with a fair bit of under-developed information that an attentive reader will pick up on that others may not. Subtle things, more from their choices in clothes or unconscious behaviour that Mina included that paint a bigger picture than from the words they say. These things gave me a sense of the characters from fairly early on, that was smashed time and time again by the blatantly out of character actions they undertook later in the story.
Case in point the brash and rather crude language used by Mader in the immediate aftermath of their rushed coupling:
'Mader kissed her neck then her lips. "F&^king A, that was unbelievable."'
He is meant to be a high-powered type of executive, all masculine and sexy and even perhaps a little brooding, but this sudden 'bogan/redneck crudeness' is totally out of character.
If you like slam, bam, thank you ma'am sex scenes you might enjoy this. The sexy scenes aside (I'll go into that more later) the details in the story were hazy at best. We had info dumps by way of basic conversation between one unimportant character and one or both of the main characters and little else.
This stems from the above lack of detail. In a 40 page novella, background information may or may not be important, but you need to make a call on that pretty quickly. If you think background information is needed you need to drip feed it into the story, not drop it in, in giant chunks that drag down the pace of the scenes. If you don't think the background information is needed at all, make the reason the characters are doing what they're doing seem immediate reactions to something and then justify them. Don't drag the reading from the past to the present to the past to another scene and then back again trying to tie it all up nicely.
An example of this is with Angie, there was really no reason why we needed the background information, and her role in the story could be explained in a much simpler manner.
As previously mentioned, wham, bam, thank you ma'am is the flavour of the book. The level of detail in the sex scenes was appallingly thin, basic text - almost as if Mina was a little shy about them. There was very little foreplay, very little lead up at all. Almost as if one minute there was a little interest, and then the next they were going at it like a pair of rabbits.
How to improve this...
A serious editing session with a strong editor, a re-draft of the whole story to work out the important parts and flesh them out. Find the unimportant parts and cut them. Make a character sketch of the protags and the antagonists and make sure their behaviour fits their persona, both consciously and in their sub-conscious behaviours. Develop the sex scenes, tease the senses, not just sight, tell the reader how Mader's well chiselled chest feels, what he smells like as they curl up afterwards, and provide more sensory information to really bring in the reader.
Even for a short titillation read, you need to submerge the reader into it, not just give very basic descriptions.
The genre melding of erotic thriller worked well for Deadly Temptations, it will draw in a wider audience because of that. Denise is a character that a lot of women could relate to; she seemed to be fairly normal, career driven and realistic. We had very little physical description of her, which may have been done on purpose to allow for more women to relate to her, or may have been done by accident. Regardless, it worked.
The Epilogue isn't needed. It adds a 'fluffy' ending to a story that doesn't need it, but the information in it could have been added into the end of the story in a less direct way.
Ultimately, with a hefty edit and re-write this could be a rather exciting read for both erotic and thriller audiences. Mina has the right ideas, but the execution of them falls short.