Passion & Pain by Chris Genovese & Carver Pike

This book, a collection of two connected stories, makes for a fascinating literary experiment.
I should first get it out of the way that Chris Genovese and Carver Pike are pen names for the same fantastic author, though I am vastly more familiar with his work as Carver Pike–being a fan of horror and not so much a fan of smutty, erotic, romance tales. The man behind those noms de plume is a terrific and skilled storyteller, so it’s no surprise that he’d be just as capable regardless of the umbrella beneath which he happens to be writing.
The Strings On Me by Chris Genovese introduces us to the character of Nick “Lucky” Luciano, a frat boy and a womanizer with a heart of gold. He’s not such a womanizer, all things considered…but it’s sort of the role he plays in his life within the fraternity.
A chance encounter brings Natalia to his attention and he is instantly captivated by this beautiful, mysterious, foreign woman. Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem quite so enamored of him, but Lucky isn’t one to give up too easily.
At the end of this first erotic romance tale, things seem to be going well.
Cutting His Strings is where Carver Pike takes up the baton and races the story of Lucky and Natalia through the finish line…and boy does he bring it to a finish.
The romance takes on a darker quality as the story continues, with the erotica still heavily present. Natalia’s attitude and behavior seem to change like a switch has been flipped and Lucky is left dazed and dizzied by the seemingly unprovoked transformation.
We discover that Natalia is roommates with an ex-girlfriend of Lucky’s and that the impetus to end that previous relationship was entirely brought about by Natalia’s secret machinations. She’d been no stranger to Lucky when they met, and he barely had a chance to avoid becoming her prey.
More importantly, we discover that Natalia is involved with the sinister secret society, Diablo Snuff. You’ll be familiar with Diablo Snuff if you’ve read my previous review of A Foreign Evil, or if you’ve read the other three Carver Pike books that connect with the Diablo Snuff series. Once Lucky is snared by Diablo Snuff, the odds don’t look great for him.
Will he be lucky enough that his ex-girlfriend will be able to put the puzzle pieces together in time to save him? Does she still love him enough to invest that sort of attention and concern toward the peculiar nature of his relationship with her roommate?
You’ll have to read the book to find out for yourself.

If you enjoyed the Japanese horror flick, Audition, you’re likely to enjoy this book.