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Zia McCorgi by Cooner

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Handcuffs and Lace a Review
Zia McCorgi by Cooner
Handcuffs and Lace by Rechan is a romance/erotica novel from FurPlanet. It is also Rechan's first novel. It clocks in at a svelte 115 pages with one interior illustration.I started this about two weeks ago and finally finished it today. I'd say its a pretty nice character study with some engaging reasonable people with problems I can empathize with. If you're looking for a straight sex novella this one is a good buy.

[Before we go much further a simple disclaimer or two Handcuffs and Lace by Rechan is published by FurPlanet who published my book. I also know Rechan fairly well as he and I have been talking a lot recently. He also gave a glowing review of my novel.]

Vi is a prison guard in a small town in anywhere America. Em is in the area on a business trip. They meet when Em is brought into the clink for solicitation. They meet there and end up having sex after a talk. After Em is out on bail they encounter each other again. The window dressing is different but the premise is your standard story of this sort. Two characters despite different backgrounds and and personalities find themselves drawn to each other despite personal and exterior problems. The story in itself has been repeated in dozens of romantic comedies and books. On the surface it would appear to be only unique in that Handcuffs and Lace by Rechan is a furry novel. Well that and the copious amounts sexual situations.

Here's the thing though Handcuffs and Lace by Rechan might look and sound like your standard romance tale, and it has that, but its just as much a character study of two ordinary people finding an inexplicable attraction and wanting to explore it. They make errors and mistakes, the usual foibles I know I've made myself, and they try to deal with it. Whether through rationalization, incrimination, or empathy for each other. I can't claim the story is amazingly deep and layered. I can say there are some interesting character moments and the story stands on its two feet outside of the standard premise. I think because the two characters are relate-able and they have an interesting interplay the story works surprisingly well.

You'll note I steered clear of telling you what gender Vi and Em are respectively. This is a straight novella but neither character is in an archetypal gender role. The woman is neither a weakling swooner or a supercilious bad ass tough gal. The guy is not a bad boy (despite what you may think from the cover) and while a little nerdy is not a Milquetoast weakling or any of those tired old archetypes. If anything they came off as complicated real people Vi, the female corrections officer, has her sweet soft and generous side as well as her tough rough and professional side. She isn't tempestuous or histrionic. She gets offended emotional and angry at times but at reasonable parts for her character and at parts I could see myself getting angry or upset if I were her. Emerson is a little self conscious but he has reasons for being that way which are explained in the book, and in the sexual encounters between the two. I guess what I am saying is that for a romance novel this book is surprisingly realistic with the two people and lacking in the same level of sexist behavior that would normally set me off.

Sex is a huge part of this book. As I mentioned there is a lot of it. Roughly six involved sexual scenes in this novella, so we could call this a bodice ripper or a Harlequin romance I suppose. I can't really thought call it that as often we can label those gratuitous. The sexual scenes are not gratuitous here. In fact each one is highly necessary to the plot. Each encounter moves not only the plot but informs the characters actions. Gratuitous sex annoys me a great deal in a book. This isn't gratuitous its perfectly logical where it is placed.

The characters aren't flawless with their sexuality, which is another problem I have with some romance novels. The repeat offender is of course Nicholas Sparks with his perfect sexual encounter between two people in their first time. Emerson and Vi obviously enjoy their time together but they make mistakes, they explore each other, they take the time to improve their coitus. Their first encounter is a huge reason they come back to each other but it wasn't perfect.

This brings up a key and interesting part for me int he novel. The two feel shame and inadequacy at their time together at different parts. In fact it defines a lot of how they treat each other and why they do what they do, for instance Vi becomes self conscious and upset with herself for spending time in a cheap motel with Emerson. How many times do we all feel that way? Like we haven't done it perfectly. Like we haven't pleased our partner. Like we feel shame at something silly we've done or at an irrational moment. Like we're unsure what we're doing. I know I've felt that way more then once and honestly I think it is probably a universal feeling. Again a flaw in modern romantic comedies and romance novels is that they don't explore this universal facet instead the sex is always perfect for our protagonists. Maybe this makes us all a little neurotic but I can say this novel touched the insecure unsure part of myself in a very meaningful way because I could relate to Vi and Em struggling with their shame and worries of inadequacy.

Which doesn't mean they're self flagellating its just that this effects their moods, their behavior and what they do in the story. They clearly are enjoying themselves. They reassure each other, again like a real couple would do in that sort of situation, they tease each other. The pleasure one another in a perfectly real manner and the emotional fall out is realistic.

It's odd but if there was any book i'd compare this thing to it would be one of my favorites The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville. The characters and situation are different but I think there are some similarities. Two people who are very different happen to encounter each other. They have preconceptions about one another, often incorrect views, they challenge and encounter one another. They're damaged and a bit troubled by their own pasts and part of the story is overcoming those feelings. Though Ms. Greville's book is substantially longer.

So of course I have some problems with the book.

First of all Rechan really does a poor job describing the characters when we first are introduced to them. It takes over twenty pages to leave about Vi's curly hair and a little while to grasp Emerson as well. This wouldn't be a huge problem but the cover art and the interior illustration (which also appears on the back) conflict with the descriptions and actually conflict with each other. I admit it I use interior illustrations to sometimes help picture the character if they are there. My problem is that the illustrations show vastly different characters and really are cacophonous to the story. I also wonder why the one interior illustration was even put in there the moment it is being pictured while it leads to some important character moments is itself not that crucial to be the ONLY interior image. This really was a problem for me. Other characters are more glossed over, giving a species and little description beyond that. With the exception of Vi's brother who hardly gets much time or really has a huge impact on the story. Now this makes sense considering the story is focused on vi and Emerson and who they are. We're supposed to focus on them strongly as this is about the two of them. Still that means you REALLY need to make sure we know why they are inside and out and conflicting images do not help.

Also Emerson and Vi talk a lot about themselves and their background early on with little provocation. Maybe because Emerson is feeling vulnerable and maybe because Vi is feeling that way as well, for different reasons, but some of the revelations seem to not really come up again in the story. Its a lot of information and I'm not sure it is all needed with them. I think we can empathize with them without know all of this.

I also noticed that Rechan transitions away from scenes extremly quickly. I would have enjoyed a little more time with that breakfast dealing with some small talk between them instead of essentially jumping away from it after the chapter ends. They were having a good conversation there and I would have liked to know more.

Also why does Vi have a pet cat? I know this is a furry book and hey some furry stories show an anthropomorphic animal interacting with a standard animal. But this really shocked me out of my reading for a bit. This is perhaps the most petty complaint I've ever made and frankly its pretty dang minor. Just like the cat is to the story.

At the end of the day though my quarrels are in general small and this remains a good story. These are different people unsure why they are attracted, even openly questioning their attraction but at the same time embracing it. A dichotomy I again can relate to. Their cultural and personal backgrounds create tensions and further divisions I think we can all understand.

I admit when I first started this book I actually thought it would be a bit like Scream. Vi reads romance novels and this is mentioned more then once. I thought for sure there would be some self referential humor in that but I didn't see it. Really Rechan played it straight and I think that ended up working. The book uses the cliches of the genre but it doesn't rely on them like Scream did on slasher cliches.

The ending is very nicely done and it works well for me. It has options for the story to continue or it could end there effectively. I welcome other readers to think up their own stories for how it could continue. I liked the writing overall and the story has some strong solid points. There are times I wasn't as fully engrossed but I enjoyed this.

Overall I give Handcuffs and Lace by Rechan good marks. You'll probably enjoy it if you get it. The price is low and its a fun little book overall. I'd strongly recommended this to straight and bi reader's looking for a fun quick read of erotica to get this book. Honestly Handcuffs and Lace is a good book and a nice bit of prose. Grab a copy and enjoy the little thrills and the characters. Buy a gift for a straight friend they may enjoy this one a bit.

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Vi and Em, huh? I guess he went with the "obscure/nonsensical/nonexistant" naming convention, instead of the "same six names as 40% of all furry stories" naming convention. Don't exactly roll off the tongue, do they? Not even sure how you'd read "Vi" out loud. (Or "Rechan," for that matter.) What was the problem with, say, Stan and Laura?

Frankly, I think a self-aware romance novel would be kind of a nice gimmick. "Scream" was a box-office hit, you'll recall, and its quirkiness saved it from the descent into obscurity that so many of its peers experienced (Remember "Urban Legend?" Neither does anyone else).

Still, clearly (based on the cover art) he wasn't going for High Literature with this one. Judging by the cover, the title, the price, the length and the pacing (6 sex scenes in a 150-page novel(la)? perfect!), he hit all the marks perfectly for a harlequin romance.

Rechan should get five stars for nailing a genre correctly. That skill is relatively uncommon in the furry literary circles. :p And if an author is lacking in descriptive ability, this is the genre to pick! ("He looked like Fabio, and she had big boobs." DESCRIPTION: ACCOMPLISHED)

Interesting find, thanks for sharing :) Gonna clue the Bad Dog Book Club in on it?

Oh sorry Sheps I used the knickname for one of the characters, Vi whose full name is Cheyenne [fits the western montana-ish feel of the location], and shortened Emerson to make a comment about how the writer doesn't shoe horn gender roles for the characters. My bad. But yes still nontraditional names remain.

You know that would be an interesting gimmick :D you should totally do that!

Holy Frak I do remember Urban Legend man that thing stank!

Yeah I agree it is a bodice ripper I'm just saying I was surprised that the characters were a little more complex then I expected them to be and it got a little deeper then I expected it to.

I'm sure considering the closeness between bad dog and furplanet that they are fully aware.

You really should check out Smiley and the Hero too :D

Vi and Em, huh? I guess he went with the "obscure/nonsensical/nonexistant" naming convention, instead of the "same six names as 40% of all furry stories" naming convention."</i>
Actually their names are Vidalia and Emerson. Or at least, Vidalia is her nickname but it gets shortened to Vi.

Vi is pronounced like Bye.

Sooooo how is the email inbox?

Well, Stan and Laura are sort of older names. You don't get younger people named those as often. Naming characters can be difficult -- the names can't be too real, or they either call attention to themselves (Dakota Fanning), or they're far too common (John Smith). And they can't be too made up, or they sound fake.

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