Blazing Star by Marie Carlson is a short paranormal erotic romance, told from the perspective of Bea. Bea is someone who could have been an active 'Hunter' in the fight against monsters, but chose instead to play backup and spiritual advisor. She provides a safe house, reads minds, and does her best to protect and help those who come to her. Bea is a is African-American (the way she emphasises that she's with a white woman... but that's the only time it comes up , apart from the cover), and possibly bisexual (it's unclear who, if any, of her visitors are also lovers). This story starts and ends with the arrival and departure of her lover, Hope, who comes for help, and rides off with fellow Hunters to face some terrible destiny.
Bea is our narrator, and so infuses the story with herself, and we see how she sees the others, but we don't really get their stories. She's a pretty good judge of character though. Bea and Hope are long-standing lovers, with plenty of chemistry, and a very nice powerplay undercurrent running through everything (which they trade off). They happily fall into each other's arms and do their best to spend as much of Hope's very short visit alone and naked. Sadly, impending doom, other Hunters and responsibilities intervene. It's not particularly graphic, but it is definitely sexy. I probably wouldn't have filed Blazing Star under 'erotica', but I would definitely label it 'erotic'.
The world building is an interesting, workable, if somewhat standard paranormal urban fantasy, where monsters and magic is real and people are born with various paranormal abilities to help fight them. It was unclear as to whether the general populace knows about these monsters, and wasn't really an issue, as the focus was on Bea and her visitors, who were deeply immersed in the paranormal. While the blurbs emphasise Tarot, and it is a tool used in the story, I got the impression that only some people used it, and it wasn't the main theme.
It's long enough to be worth picking up, and well written enough that the length is felt. It reads like an introduction, and excerpt, and a 'moments in a romance' mixed up into one. The relationship works on it's own, the introduction gives it depth - and the excerpt makes it both more real, and more annoying. The story is more of a glimpse, an encounter that comes in the middle of the lovers' relationship, and cuts off frustratingly as Bea's visitors ride off into the sunset to start the real adventure. It would work splendidly as a companion story to the proper one.
It's a well done and entertaining piece of writing, although probably a bit too serious, with a little too little sex, for people just looking for a quick erotic read. On the other hand, if you like a bit of backstory and character development and find the average erotica short stories a bit... lacking in the depth and plot regions of their anatomy, then you'll find Blazing Star nicely fleshed out.
I can certainly recommend Marie Carlson's writing, so if you're a fan of lesbian paranormal romance, her other stories are probably worth your time.
Blazing Star is currently only available as an eBook download for $1.99
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