Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Sherrilyn Kenyon - Born to Be BAD

New York Times bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon has created a sensation with her sexy stories about the Bureau of American Defense.
In the all-new "One BAD Night" the bureau believes that agent Jason Banks has sold them out. Agent Samantha Winslow has never particularly cared for Jason, whom she reluctantly finds attractive, and she volunteers to bring him in. Under orders to infiltrate his rogue mission and kidnap him, she is also trying to pull off the ultimate double-cross. But who would have guessed that Jason would be so pleased to be her captive?
In "BAD to the Bone" Marianne wins the Hideaway Heroine Sweepstakes and a chance to pretend to be the heroine in her favorite romance novel. Whisked away to a remote island, Marianne's daydreams become real when BAD agent Kyle Foster kidnaps her and uncovers her every fantasy.
In "'Captivated' by You" BAD agent Rhea must go undercover as a dominatrix to capture a deadly terrorist. Fortunately, Agent "Ace" Krux, whom she has long desired, is her training partner. Immediately, the roles of master and slave are wonderfully blurred, and Rhea and Ace unleash a wealth of hidden desire.

Comment: I got this book years ago, and my decision was mostly taken because at the time I was well into the world of the Dark-Hunters and its spin offs and my appreciation of the authors's work extended to try books by her in other genres. Well, time went on, and on...

In this book we have three novellas, all about spies who work for B.A.D., a branch of secrete service agents who, obviously, do convert missions everywhere. The three novellas are focused on three pairs, and they all include agents of the agency. In the first, One Bad Night, Sam and Jason are agents and she thought he had double crossed their friends, in the second BAD to the bone, Marianne is entering a special experience when she meets Kyle, an agent, and in the third Captivated by You, agent Rhea needs to play the role of a dominatrix in a mission and agent Ace volunteers to be her guinea pig...

I will be honest: stories like these no longer appeal that much to me. I used to like romantic suspense and adventure types of plots where the characters would find out they were a match both as a team and as a couple, but nowadays this is no longer my preferable type of fiction. I mean, I still like reading stories like these but the usual style doesn't work (I refer to plots where they think more about sex and/or the terrible enemy than anything else) and now I like this more if it's a cozy mystery, for instance, where the focus is on other elements.

Anyway, this book was on the shelf and I decided it was time to finally get to it. I feel a little nostalgic because Sherrily Kenyon was one of those authors that, around the 2000s and beginning of the 2010s, I was devoted to and the PNR genre was at its maximum hype. I loved her books and as it happened to other authors in that genre, I then decided to try other stuff by them. I got this book without paying much attention, really, but thought that if it was by her, I'd like it regardless.

The three novellas about this spying agency and its agents weren't bad, but even apart from my current preferences, of course I feel they aren't as amazing as they could because they are short and it's not easy, at all, to find consistent and well structured novellas. Such a small amount of pages simply cannot offer the same development as a full length story should, and although all characters are differentiated and unique, I still had no connection to them.

One Bad Night features Sam, a female agent who thought Jason had betrayed friends while on a mission. She decides to get revenge but, of course, this proves to be a mission on itself, and she is actually rescuing Jason. They are attracted to one another and so on. The idea is fine and their personalities too, but I read this story and was not specially touched by anything... I also skipped the sex parts, which occupy many pages that could be dedicated to better content, but it is what it is.

BAD to the Bone is the story of teacher Marianne, who loves romance novels and wins a competition where she can pretend to be the heroine of her favorite book with actors interacting with her. This happens in an island, and on one side the BAD agency has a practice type of camp if I got it right. Somehow Marianne meets Kyle, when they weren't supposed to, and he plays the part for her. It was cute idea,as seen in this TV show, but of course the sexy times are too quick for any emotional connection to be established.

Captivated by You tells the story of Rhea, a very professional agent who has to play the role of a dominatrix and Ace is the agent who offers to let her practice before the mission. This means that after being in love with her for years, they will finally spend time together, and she can't help but like him too. I found this to be sweeter than what the mission implied, but there isn't enough time to make their falling in love to be realistic.

In fact, that is the main issue, none of their relationships seems to be established well enough for them to be convincing. I know that short stories often have this flaw, but it could be done. I think that these stories are also a product of their time, with so much emphasis on sex and sexy moments, that other things could have been key instead. The writing isn't far from what the author usually does, but there wasn't enough emotional connection overall.
I am aware the author went through a lot in her personal life in the past years, although I haven't investigated details to be able to write about it. I only know that her published work has been released in a much slower pace than before. I think the momentum was lost, even though I wish and hope she can get her mojo and confidence back. Still, I'm debating if, perhaps, the time to fully appreciate her worlds has passed for me, as it happened to other authors I used to cherish in the past...
I also have another book in this series to read, which I had gotten at the same time as this...but will remain for another day...
Grade: 6/10


  1. I myself never got into the Sherrilyn Kenyon bandwagon when her work was all the rage--mostly, I think, because there was so much hype about them, and I generally avoid books/authors with too much hype.

    I did try one of her books, years later, and all I remember is that I didn't get too far before I put it to the side--it's probably still languishing somewhere in the print TBR, in fact.

    Regardless, as you say, "it's not easy, at all, to find consistent and well structured novellas. Such a small amount of pages simply cannot offer the same development as a full length story." There are a few authors who can switch between long and short fiction, and make it work (for me, Courtney Milan is one, Suzanne Brockmann is another), but generally, I need at least a couple hundred pages for the romance to be convincing.

    1. I think one of the most addictive elements in a good series, or a series that feels that way to a reader, is how everything is cohesive in one's mind. I liked her PNR series because I felt invested in the world and I established an emotional connection wit the characters and what they went through. But it's like spending time with people around you, if there is a physical barrier, or distance, things change, no matetr what people say. Having books too far apart makes the flow slowly disappear...

      Regarding novellas, to this day I still remember how impressed I was with Alpha & Omega by Patricia Briggs. How perfectly balanced that novella was, and how well structured. I thought... it can be done! But, alas, not all do it...