Dear Ms. Thompson,
A Lover's Call, your Ellora's Cave BDSM “Quickie” (rated E-rotic) happens to be the first Ellora's Cave offering I've read. Yes, before your novella came along, I was an Ellora's Cave virgin.
The heroine of the story is Rachel, a librarian by day who works a phone sex line by night. We are told that Rachel daydreams of bringing a man to his knees with a smoldering glance, but her outward personality is described this way:
…Rachel was a sensible girl whose modesty was genuine and bordered on the insecure. She had chosen the career of librarian precisely to avoid situations in which smoldering glances might get her in trouble.
I liked Rachel, but you portray this aspect of her personality so well that it's difficult for me to understand why someone as modest and as initially sexually repressed as Rachel is (she hasn't dated very much, and in her limited experience, sex was disappointing) would be a telephone sex worker. I liked the explanation that Rachel feels sorry for lonely men because she was lonely herself, but I still couldn't completely reconcile her choice of moonlighting job with her personality.
One night Rachel, working the phone under the name Velvet, gets a call from a man who tells her he loves her voice, but doesn't want to listen her cooing over the size of his sex organ or otherwise cater to his fantasies. No, he wants to know her secret fantasies.
Richard comes on strong; for my taste, a little too strong, especially for a stranger on the telephone. In Rachel's shoes, I'd probably have hung up on him and alerted the operator not to transfer any more of his calls to me. But, this being an Ellora's Cave quickie, I read partly for prurient reasons, and so, I decided to go with the flow.
It isn't long before Rachel gives Richard her real name, and later, begins to tell him about herself and her life. Eventually she gives him her real number, and, somewhat nervously, starts following his suggestions of things she could do for and to herself.
Even though I thought a couple of Rachel's ways of claiming her sexuality, buying herself sexy bras and high heeled shoes, were a little obvious and not new, it was still fun to see Rachel so excited to come out of her shell.
As for the BDSM phone sex, it was a mixed bag for me. I find power games sexy, so I liked it when Richard got all firm and commanding. On the other hand, some of the things he told Rachel to do, such a smack her nipples lightly with a ruler, seemed more silly than sexy to me.
There were a couple of instances of language that threw me. At one point, Richard calls Rachel “My sweet slut.” For me, being called a slut, even a sweet one, would be a turnoff, and moreover, this description was so unsuitable to Rachel that I couldn't understand why it was there. Another time you describe Rachel's arousal by likening her to “a bitch in heat.” Again, I was thrown. The dog metaphor is not my idea of sexy. Fortunately these were the only two cases that I felt this way about.
It's not until toward the novella, when Rachel and Richard are about to meet for the first time, that we got Richard's POV. This was where I finally warmed to him, but the background he turned out to have seemed unlikely to me. I also think that calling a sex phone line for a lark is a little like reading Playboy for the articles.
At the close of A Lover's Call, after meeting and having sex together, Richard and Rachel declare their love.
“I love you, Richard,” she answered, knowing it was the truest thing she had ever said.
I was puzzled by this sentiment of Rachel's. Yes, Richard has bossed her into some great orgasms, but how well does she really know him? I can believe that she feels some affection for him, but it seems like more of an infatuation than true, lasting love. That's okay with me, so I didn’t need the declarations.
My Ellora's Cave virginity is now gone. Losing it wasn't a painful experience, but I also didn't feel transported. I closed A Lover's Call feeling that it wasn't a bad way to pass the time; the heroine was very sympathetic but the hero less so, the sex was titillating at times, but for me, not scorching hot; the prose could have been more polished, and for these reasons, I almost certainly won't reread A Lover’s Call. For me, this novella fits the definition of a C read in our review grade explanation almost to a T, and that is the grade I give it.