Dear Ms. Hart:
You came on the blog a while back during a discussion about erotica and erotic romance. You were very upfront about the fact that your book was erotica. I kind of poo-poo’ed most erotica as being a woman’s sexploration which didn’t sound very appealing to me. As your release date rolled around, I thought that I should buy the book and see for myself instead of making a blanket statement about a genre I am fairly new to.
I am now even more confused about what erotica is. You were right. This isn’t a sexploration book. If I were to categorize it, I would put it in the general fiction section because I just don’t see how explicit sexual content actual makes a book erotica. There is one threesome scene which I think Emma Holly made de riguer in erotica books but for the most part, the sex scenes are fairly run of the mill. If sex had anything to do with advancement of the plot it would be that the heroine uses her body as a weapon to punish herself, but she was very much a martyr and used everything from the austerity of her home, to her lonely life to punish herself.
Elle Kavanagh is a successful business woman with a very lonely life. She has no friends. Her interaction with the opposite sex generally involve single furtive encounters wherein she gives a fake name and nothing else. That is Elle’s whole motto, it seems, take nothing, give nothing. She has reasons. Her father is a drunk. Her eldest brother is dead. Her mother is a nagging bitch. Her younger brother lives too far away to be supportive. Elle meets Dan in a chance encounter and is beyond turned on. When she gets the chance with him, she attempts to treat him like every other guy, but Dan won’t take it.
The major problem that I had with this book was the narrator. It’s first person and I had a hard time seeing why I should care about Elle. The storytelling is very flat, almost monotone. There were very few movements in the tone. It could be that the emotionless aspect of the narrator was intentional given her emotional problems but it was just too flat. I wasn’t able to find a reason to cheer for Elle.
I thought, too, that at times you had the characters emote too much. In the midst of a public fingering, Dan is described as “looked determined, admiring and quizzical, but the last passed in a moment. . . Now he looked honored.”
Dan, the male protagonist, was presented as almost a fantasy male, a cypher. He knew exactly what to do to make Elle want him. Exactly when she needed the commanding touch. Exactly when she needed space and when she did not need space. Too often he slipped from dominant male to insecure suitor. He told Elle what to do but was constantly seeking affirmation from Elle.
But I like being with you, too. Don’t you like being with me? Just hanging out?
It was also hard for me to see why Dan cares about her other than she represents a challenge. He does make a comment that she “acts like an angel . . . but fucks like a demon.” Elle regularly snubs him and tosses off cruel comments.
There was one quite beautiful piece in the book that happened late in the story but it was short and it wasn’t enough to save this story from the gloomy monotony or the forced redemption scenes at the end. I guess, by that time, I had given up my capacity to care for this couple. C-.