Feature book: Bandicoot Cove
Bandicoot Cove by Vivian Arend, Lexxie Couper and Jess Dee
A series, of four novellas, Bandicoot Cove commences with Exotic Indulgence, a short story written by all three authors and then continues with individual stories by each author, using the same setting—a tropical beach resort (‘Bandicoot Cove’) on fictional Bilby Island in Queensland.
Each story features a ménage m/f/m (except for the opening novella which has m/f/m/m action) and the heat level is very high.
Bandicoot Cove is a new and exclusive luxury resort. Prior to the grand opening, the resort is holding a ‘soft opening’ to sort out any hiccups in the service/facilities and has invited guest to stay for a free three-day weekend. Kylie Sullivan is the resort manager and despite this being the biggest weekend of her career, still finds time to have hot sex with three separate men—all employees of the resort. While they are not her direct reports, ultimately she’s the boss and the whole thing felt very uncomfortable to me. She’s the manager and she’s getting it on with three employees in the same day (on one occasion in broad daylight on a public beach), all the while getting ready for the resort’s big weekend? It is only toward the end of the story that the reader is told that each man is aware of the others’ involvement and doesn’t mind. And then they decide they’ll all get together at the same time and have a happy relationship into the future. The end. There’s no real romance, no character development and no believable HEA. Maybe I expect too much plot-wise from erotic romance but this one didn’t push any buttons for me. I felt it also suffered from having been written by three different hands as well—it’s only 45 pages long and it felt to me a case of ‘too many cooks’.
This one was certainly more successful for me than the first instalment. Trent (who happens to by Kylie’s—from book 1—brother) and Mason are best friends who have both been having a sexy fling with Canadian pastry chef Paige over the previous year or so. Both the men and Paige want to break their rules and have a more-than-casual relationship—but they boys haven’t told Paige and vice versa. The ‘Big Misunderstanding’ isn’t my favourite trope in romance but fortunately that part didn’t last long. There was *ahem* a very interesting sex chair used in one of the threesome’s escapades, which I still can’t picture (clearly my imagination is lacking!). I liked that the relationship between the three was well established at the start of the novella—I think it works well for stories of this length; you can skip the meet cute (although I appreciated that their initial meeting was told in flashback form) and get to the heart of the conflict. The sex was certainly hot and the characters were nice enough but I would have liked to have more information about how things were going to work in the longer term.
Mackenzie (Mack) Wood (Mason’s—Paradise Found—sister and BFF of Kylie) is a tabloid reporter. Her best best friend is Aidan, who has been in love with her forever but has never found the courage to say so. Mack spots Aussie singing sensation Nick Blackthorne at the resort and wants an exclusive with him for her paper and, because there are rumours that Nick is bisexual, puts Aidan up to hitting on Nick to see where the story goes. I liked Aidan and Mack’s interaction quite a bit. It was clear that they had deep feelings for each other and I felt their trip to HEA was believable and I do enjoy a friends-to-lovers story. Where I came a bit unstuck was when Nick joined the picture. I found their easy acceptance of Nick into their newly found sexual relationship a bit unbelievable and the information about Nick’s backstory felt a bit out of place and heavy for this type of story. The interlude with Nick is just that and I was happy that Aidan and Mack would head off into the sunset together.
The final book in the series was in some ways, for me, the pick of the bunch. It certainly had the best start. Sienna is the third girl in the trio of friends that also include Mack and Kylie. She is about three months out of a long-term relationship with (now ex-fiancé) Ben and has come up to the resort for a weekend of relaxation. There, she meets up with Josh ‘Lie-with-me’ Lye—on whom she had a massive high school crush. He’s all grown up now and has gotten over his hang-ups about not being good enough for Sienna and they quickly set the sheets on fire. I liked Sienna and Josh together and was enjoying their budding relationship quite a bit, when Ben turned up, wanting Sienna back. The story took pains to paint Ben as a not-awful guy, just a workaholic who has finally come to his senses and changed his life for his lady, so it wasn’t immediately clear to me who I should barrack for—because it was clear that this wouldn’t be a HEAx3—the men were clearly in competition with each other for Sienna’s affections and used their threesome as a war, with Sienna the territory and to the victor goes the spoils. It wasn’t very sexy to me but I appreciated that Josh realised exactly what had happened afterwards and felt unhappy about it. (So, points for Josh!). I won’t give away what happens at the end, but this is a triad story where only one man can end up with the girl and both men are portrayed as meritorious. Ben has eight years of history with Sienna. Josh was the ‘first love’ (well, crush) but that relationship is very new. Who will she choose? In the end while I thought she probably made the right choice, I wasn’t really given enough information about either man to be sure.
Overall, I can’t say the series rocked my world, but for those wanting a short sexy read, it just might do the trick.
A review copy of these novellas was provided by the author.