By now, I've had the pleasure to read a few of Decadent Kane's Trouble With Elves series (some of them even before release! Neener neener neener.) Tempting Clover, Kane's newest novella, has quickly become my favorite.
Clover is an elfess with a problem: the goblin Malik has tricked her into a contract, wherein she is doomed to be returned to him every time an enticing male gets her feeling hot and heavy--and always before any fun can come of it! Malik collects her "sexual essence" to turn into a potion which will make him human, long enough for him to go out and score a hot date with a lady. How ridiculously unfair.
But Tempting Clover is not some sort of "odd couple" comedy. The story takes a quick turn towards the promising elvish bartender, Reed, who may be the first man Clover simply cannot imagine skipping out on in those final moments of heat, and then another quick turn into the dark and dangerous territory of navigating a counterspell behind Malik's back, to free herself for good.
I found this story to be one of the most compelling Kane has written. The chemistry between Reed and Clover is dynamic and very effective: I don't normally go for true love matches in a short novella, because so often they rely on a poorly-forged "instant" connection to justify them as soul mates. For Reed and Clover, though, there is no deus ex machina to use as an excuse: they have a rather whirlwind turnabout from competitive denial into want and passion, but it travels along some very relatable and endearing lines. I found myself very invested in their happy ending, and even more hateful of the villain Malik, because he stood in their way.
My one complaint about Kane's writing is that I always want it to be a bit longer. I do enjoy a "quick read" now and again, The Trouble With Elves feels so rich already, I'm often yearning to see a fleshing out of some of the world's more creative and interesting features. In Tempting Clover, I yearned for more time with the characters: Reed and Clover are just such a loveable pair, with an excellent dash of contrast and a gruff but beautiful affection.
Not only Reed and Clover, but Malik and the fourth featured character, Idis the Sage Witch, are such dynamic creatures. You love and hate them with a real enjoyment. None of them is stale or lacking in dimension.
I give Tempting Clover an enthusiastic five stars, and must say it is one of the most satisfying short love stories I've run across in the genre. I'm eager to see more coming along in this series, but I'd love to see a continuation of these two and their unfolding passions.
Check out Decadent Kane here, at her blog