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REVIEW: Sleeping with the Frenemy by KT Grant

Dear Ms. Grant,

You are well-known in the online romance community as Katiebabs of Babbling About Books. I’m a fan of your quirky sense of humor and I appreciate your thoughtful, honest reviews. I wish I could say I enjoyed your books as much as your blog.

Sleeping with the Frenemy by KT GrantSince I signed on as a reviewer here at DA, I’ve received three stories to review. Two of those were submitted by you. Unfortunately, both were DNFs. Although I opted to email my thoughts on Lovestruck to you privately, I decided to post a full review of Sleeping with the Frenemy. You’ve always said that you’d rather have a negative review than none at all. I admire you for saying it, and I agree. Nothing kills a book like silence. So here goes.

Deep breath.

I think your writing style has improved since Lovestruck, but a number of mistakes caught my attention in Sleeping with the Frenemy.  If I could sum up the problems in one word it would be “overdone.” The villain is over-the-top evil, there are many unnecessary scenes, and you go too far with your descriptions. The details about bodily functions and female arousal are off-putting, rather than sexy.

The story begins with Deborah and Genevieve, a “perfect” married couple. Gen is rich and powerful and dominant. Deborah is a sweet, submissive dishrag. There are hints that the relationship is abusive, along with strong indications that the women love each other deeply. The opening chapters are a nonstop sexfest.

Although Deborah seems to fear Gen, she submits to her every desire and has powerful orgasms. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel about these scenes, which read like dubious-consent, degrading BDSM.

Let me give a few examples of the details I found off-putting. In the first chapter, Gen and Deborah go to the opera. They notice an overweight couple watching them and start making out. After the kiss, “Gen wiped the drool away from the corner of her mouth.” Am I supposed to find this sexy?

Gen strokes Deborah to climax at the opera and again in the limo. They proceed to their bedroom at home, where Gen brings out the sex toys. Deborah is tired and reluctant but allows Gen to penetrate her with a huge dildo. There’s a geyser of body fluids:

Deborah yelped from Gen’s talented mouth as her tongue went in deep, lapping over her swollen folds and tissues. She moaned and humped Gen’s face, dying slowly as Gen pushed her legs out wider and attacked her pussy with great intensity. Bright purple spots appeared in front of her eyes, and when Gen’s finger went between her ass cheeks, Deborah shrieked and rocked.

She was overcome with pleasure and couldn’t control the gush of her come. It shot out and covered Gen’s face.

Later, Gen transfers an anal toy from her orifice to Deborah’s, ignoring Deborah’s protests. At the end of the night, Deborah passes out cold.

The next day Gen flies into a jealous rage and beats Deborah brutally. The depiction of physical violence is well done and your portrayal of Deborah as a broken woman was the high point of the story for me. Most battered women stay with their abuser because they are in love, and Deborah is no exception. Even after she finds the strength to leave, she misses Gen.

Deborah fakes her death by pushing her car off a cliff, into a river. The car is in neutral, which seems like a giveaway, but whatever. In another improbable scene, she disguises herself as a man and visits her mother at a nursing home. They are overheard discussing Deborah’s plan to escape to Woodberry Creek and assume a new identity.

After Deborah arrives in Woodberry Creek, the story loses momentum. There are mundane descriptions of Deborah brushing her teeth and using the bathroom. She gets her period and shops for tampons. In the feminine hygiene aisle, she meets Bridgette Woodberry, who suggests that the brand of tampons Deborah is looking at might be “too bulky.”

It’s clear that Bridgette is Deborah’s new love interest, but I’m not invested enough to continue reading. Without the spectacle of degrading sex, gushing come, and crazy Gen, there’s very little “juice” to hold my attention.

I know there is an audience for this kind of material and I wish you the best of luck in finding your niche. Although I felt that Sleeping with the Frenemy was smoother and more entertaining than Lovestruck, I have to give it a DNF.

Best regards,

Jill

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Guest Reviewer

31 Comments

  1. Susan Reader
    May 18, 2011 @ 09:25:47

    This also seems uncomfortably close to the movie, “Sleeping With the Enemy.” Which may be deliberate, given the title, but still… Escape abusive relationship by faking own death! Visit mother in nursing home in male disguise! Scenes of quiet small-town life! Does changing the genders and sexing it up make enough of a difference?

  2. Anonymous for today
    May 18, 2011 @ 09:31:00

    She was overcome with pleasure and couldn’t control the gush of her come. It shot out and covered Gen’s face.

    Okay, I have to make a comment about this, because I’ve heard a lot of people lately claim that this type of thing is unrealistic or unsexy. Fair warning, this comment is explicit.

    Here is the thing: female ejaculation (which “shot out” implies here) is a real thing. I do not actually have that but I DO in fact get very wet, but only if I am having a VERY good time. Words like “gush” and “flood” would be appropriate. I make a freaking mess. But the alternative is to be like, “no, let’s not make this good,” which I’m not about to do. We have to change the freaking sheets every time. But honestly, instead of being annoyed, my husband is just like – “So, were you not enjoying it all the other times when this DIDN’T happen?!?” … (and the answer is um, no, not nearly as much, no)

    And in this story, this is her 3rd (or more?) orgasm of the night and there’s been lots of teasing along the way. So her reaction doesn’t seem at all weird to me.

    In fact, to those who DO think it’s weird … have you really done all that? Because your body starts reacting differently at those heights. BUT I totally understand that women’s bodies are all different. So maybe you could do all that and more and be barely damp – I don’t know. But I still think a lot of the women saying that is abnormal do not actually go through that type of thing to know for sure how they would react.

    Sorry to get personal/explicit/gross on you but just wanted to explain about this. Of course, you CAN still find it unsexy, but for me it is just realistic.

    By the way, the drooling thing was pretty gross. It’s okay if your mouth waters, but keep it shut, girl!

  3. Anon too for once
    May 18, 2011 @ 10:10:48

    @Anonymous for today: Female ejaculation happened to me once but it didn’t ‘shot out’ (this brings the image of a hose at full pressure to me = eww), it just messed up the whole bed, sheet and matress. /2 cents to complement your thoughts.

  4. Jane
    May 18, 2011 @ 10:35:45

    Just as an FYI. If you want to leave an anon comment, you should not use the email address attached to your gravatar. I’ve edited out the email addresses so as to preserve the commenters’ anonymity.

  5. Jill Sorenson
    May 18, 2011 @ 10:49:15

    @Susan Reader: I’m not an expert in copyright law but I think that “derivative works” are allowed. Not sure how different the new work has to be from the original. Might be open to interpretation? I don’t know enough about the subject to say more.

  6. Jill Sorenson
    May 18, 2011 @ 10:50:57

    @Jane: thanks for doing that!

  7. anon lurker
    May 18, 2011 @ 11:02:39

    My own experience with the female ejaculation: Lots of, use a plastic sheet, fluids. And, yes, shooting out a couple of feet does happen.

    I know my physical reactions are different from most women and don’t expect it to see it in many books – in fact, the only ones I have seen it in are the almost over the top erotic ones. It sort of leaves the impression that this completely physical response is somehow a reflection of an extremely sexualized mindset. Kind of like how authors use asthma in men to indicate weakness of character.

    But, anyway, I don’t think I’m “ewww”.

    About the review. I clicked on it not knowing it was f/f or I wouldn’t have read it. I just don’t enjoy the same sex stories.

  8. Julia Sullivan
    May 18, 2011 @ 11:22:30

    At least there are no disappointed queefing sounds.

    Yes, there are women who have fountains of ejaculate. There are also women who have violet eyes. There are also women who are duchesses who don’t use their titles.

    Each of these groups of women is overrepresented in fiction to the point of implausibility. Just sayin’.

  9. Anon too for once
    May 18, 2011 @ 11:28:56

    @anon lurker:

    I’m sorry if I implied you were ‘eww’. It’s not what I meant. It’s the image of the female ejaculation/pressure hose that I find ‘ewww’ and the same goes for the image of male ejaculation for me. Not a turn on either.

  10. Jessica
    May 18, 2011 @ 11:33:01

    It’s a sad sign of how far I will go in the interest of procrastination, but this conversation inspired me to locate and view a video (http://www.oprah.com/relationships/Dr-Laura-Berman-on-Female-Ejaculation-Video) of Dr. Laura Berman on the Oprah show talking about female ejaculation.

    According to Berman, studies suggest that all women ejaculate with orgasm, but most women have “retrograde ejaculations”, meaning the ejaculate goes into the bladder. Researchers figured this out by measuring the amount of prostate stimulating antigen (PSA, also in male ejaculate) in the bladder after orgasm.

    Women tend to clench and squeeze in during orgasm which sends the ejaculate back up the bladder. So, for any gushless woman who is feeling left out, Dr. Berman suggests you “relax and push out almost as if you are urinating.” Berman reports that many women have more intense orgasms this way, but the “gushing” caller to whom she was speaking seemed less than enthused about “messing up the bed.”

  11. Jane
    May 18, 2011 @ 11:39:22

    @Susan Reader – having not read the book, I wouldn’t be able to say with any confidence whether this was infringing. There was a recent court suit about the remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. (You don’t have to click on the link, as I’ll just copy and paste my own paragraph here:

    But really, do studios even need rights to make movies based on books? Only if they want to stick close to the book’s contents. Take a look at the ruling that was released last week which found that Steven Spielberg’s remake of Rear Window was not copyright infringement of the original short story. Disturbia cast Shia LeBouf as the role of a housebound teen spying on his neighbor who may have committed a murder. The federal court judge found that the insertion of sub plots, humor, and teen romance made the movie sufficiently different from the original short story.

    It’s really a case by case basis. It might be plagiarism, depending on how much is lifted from the original but it probably isn’t infringement. Again, I can’t say whether this particular book is infringing or plagiarism as I haven’t read it.

  12. Jill Sorenson
    May 18, 2011 @ 13:08:43

    I want to thank all of the anons for speaking up. I’m familiar with female ejaculation and I’ve even watched a video demonstration that was very enlightening! I don’t think it’s gross or unnatural in the least. But the intense focus on body fluids in this story struck me as excessive, not erotic or romantic.

    Jane once mentioned Lisa Marie Rice’s tendency to describe the hero’s copious amounts of semen. I like her books but I don’t find this kind of detail sexy. Maybe because…well, too much lubrication can mean less sensation. Or so I’ve heard. Ahem.

    I also think that coming all over someone’s face is a bit porn-y. I’ve read that kind of scene in m/m and found it…edgy and authentic. I admit that I will accept some behavior from men that I consider unnattractive or out of character in women.

  13. Jill Sorenson
    May 18, 2011 @ 13:21:06

    @Jessica: Thanks for the link and info! I actually watched an explicit video of female ejaculation once (real couple, real sex) and it didn’t look any messier or gushier than semen.

  14. Julia Sullivan
    May 18, 2011 @ 13:50:34

    @Anonymous for today:

    Also, my guess is that, yeah, the majority of women posting here have had the experience of a long night of sex that includes three orgasms. Some of us have squirty ejaculatory orgasms, and some of us don’t. Both are perfectly normal responses; people’s bodies are different. The idea that women who don’t have squirty orgasms have somehow just not had enough sex to get there is pretty off-base.

    To me, the most unusual bit in that sex scene was how Deborah responded when Gen’s finger went “in between her ass cheeks.” Not into her actual rectum, just “in between her ass cheeks.” Yes, that’s an erotic zone for many people, but I got the feeling that Grant was backing away from saying “into her asshole” or whatever, and thought that “in between her ass cheeks” was an elegant euphemism. If so, she was mistaken.

  15. anon lurker
    May 18, 2011 @ 14:24:56

    @ Jill Sorenson. I get what you’re saying about the porn-iness of the imagery, but, ummmm, there’s no real way to direct it. And it’s not like you can do much to stop it once it hits you.

    I think the onus to keep one’s face free of cum would fall to the “cummie” as opposed to the “cummer

  16. No, Thank You
    May 18, 2011 @ 14:51:13

    There’s absolutely nothing sexy about this for reasons that have nothing to do with female ejaculation, and everything to do with how poorly it is written.

    I had to read this:
    “Deborah yelped from Gen’s talented mouth…”
    four times to realize it wasn’t some weird ventriloquist act.

  17. kzoet
    May 18, 2011 @ 15:43:27

    I question the likeness to the “Sleeping With The Enemy” movie, too.

    This bugged me:
    They notice an overweight couple watching them and start making out.

    The couple’s body size is worth mentioning why? Is being overweight somehow illustrating that they’re prudish or ugly or sexually less deserving/desirable than the H/H?

    And WTF is up with the tampon-shopping experience?

    …she meets Bridgette Woodberry, who suggests that the brand of tampons Deborah is looking at might be “too bulky.”

    How would a stranger be able to know what tampon size another woman needs? Because Deborah looks like a delicate flower that her hoohaw is too delicate to accommodate anything but the daintiest sliver of cotton? Or is this an instance of bulky tampon user = whore; slim tampon user = virginal goddess?

  18. katie
    May 18, 2011 @ 16:07:54

    This sounds like a horribly written book, ejaculate or not. The overweight couple thing bugged me too. What a lazy way to think up a story by copying a movie. Yuck.

  19. Jill Sorenson
    May 18, 2011 @ 16:19:36

    @anon lurker: LOL. In real life, sure, but in fiction the onus is on the author. Grant chose to include this detail for whatever reason and it just didn’t work for me.

    FWIW, I polled my husband about the gushing come scene and his reaction was a shrug. He didn’t think it was weird or distasteful. Which doesn’t really surprise me but it does illustrate the differences between men and women. I’m sure a lot of women are embarrassed by the thought of gushing. I know I am. But most guys care about the good time, not the mess.

  20. Jill Sorenson
    May 18, 2011 @ 18:22:54

    @kzoet: I had the same questions while reading about the overweight couple. I thought the tampon scene was a hint about Bridgette’s hoohah. Maybe she’s the virgin? Whatever the case, it didn’t seem like a criticism of sexual experience.

  21. Tasha
    May 18, 2011 @ 18:51:47

    I agree with you on the WTF-ery of the tampon shopping scene. Too bulky for what? For her tiny handbag? Compared to shelf after shelf of near-diapers right next to the tampons, I don’t understand how a tampon can ever be described as “bulky.” Do they make dildo-sized tampons and I’m unaware of it?

    The writing is . . . poor. How can a tongue that’s pushed in deep simultaneously lap over swollen folds?

    Ultimately, I guess I’m wondering who the market is for this book. With the focus on bodily fluids, it reads like it’s meant for straight men.

  22. FiaQ
    May 18, 2011 @ 19:01:48

    @Susan Reader and @Jane: Sleeping With the Enemy is an adaptation of Nancy Price’s novel of the same title.

    In any case, in my opinion, I vote ‘no’ because while Sleeping With the Enemy is likely to be an inspiration, a) there is quite a few films and novels with a similar premise before Sleeping With the Enemy came along, and b) there are enough differences between the film/novel and this one to set them apart.

    No different from a number of romance authors who used My Fair Lady, Sabrina, Braveheart, Roman Holiday or, in m/m romance, one of popular yaoi comics as a basis of their stories, really.

  23. anonymous16
    May 18, 2011 @ 20:59:56

    um, okay, I’m clearly an ignoramous on the female ejaculation issue but I’m confused about how it can go back into the bladder. Isn’t the vagina quite separate to the urethra? Does that mean that the “ejaculate” is urine? That can’t be right, er, can it?? Clearly my education is lacking – help! :D

  24. Another Anonymous Reviewer
    May 19, 2011 @ 07:54:34

    I haven’t read this story, so I can’t comment on it. But I have read other books by this author, and I found them to be cute, sexy and entertaining. In particular, I liked The Princess’s Bride, which is a fun lesbian twist on “The Princess Bride.” It was well-written and had a great sense of humor.

    I don’t follow this site regularly, but I am somewhat baffled by the formatting of this review. It’s personally addressed to the author, then reveals a private email exchange (which is obviously no longer private), thereby turning a 1-DNF review into a double DNF review, and finishes up with “Best regards.” O-kay. I think the “Best regards” was a bit of overkill. And coming from me, that’s saying something.

  25. Jill Sorenson
    May 19, 2011 @ 08:32:13

    @anonymous16: The link from @Jessica touches on this but here’s a detailed article: http://www.the-clitoris.com/f_html/female_ejaculation.htm

    The fluid is from the female prostate gland(?) not urine or lots of vaginal lubrication.

    Here’s an interesting bit that relates to our conversation:

    “For men, making a mess with their ejaculate is seen as unavoidable, normal, and is never questioned. It is even idolized in adult movies. Men can ejaculate on the face, in the mouth, and on and in the body of their partner and it is seen as normal and desirable. If a woman gets her body fluids on her partner that is an altogether different story, she has made a dirty mess. This is an interesting double standard. If a man can cover his partner with his body fluids, shouldn’t a woman be able to do the same?”

    Before this discussion all I knew about the subject was based on a short video, so don’t worry about being ignorant. The info has been eye-opening for me, too!

  26. Jill Sorenson
    May 19, 2011 @ 09:08:21

    @Another Anonymous Reviewer: Thanks for your comment. The reviewing format is just DA style. I sign off with “Best regards” no matter what the grade. I don’t mean to be disrespectful. As far as the email exchange and double-DNF, I felt it was appropriate to share in this case.

  27. Veronica
    May 20, 2011 @ 12:07:33

    Man oh man do I agree with everything in this review. I remember reading a snippet of KT Grant’s earlier work, and was not the least impressed. I don’t mean this to sound like trash talk, but it really stands out in my mind as being uncommonly awful. Aside from the talk about female ejaculation, the quality of writing just seems sub-par. Ironic for a reviewer, who I assume would have learned a thing or two along the way, but there you have it.

  28. Sarah Jones
    May 21, 2011 @ 18:40:53

    @Julia Sullivan:

    *snort* Yes. This. But, I’ll confess, secret Duchesses are a weakness of mine. For the record, I’ve never seen anyone with violet eyes. Ever.

  29. Sheila
    Aug 05, 2011 @ 16:34:40

    I’m catching up on your reviews and had to chuckle over this one. What you call “quirky sense of humor” for this “author,” I call cyber-bully, tacky, and classless. If only katiebabs or kt or whatever she calls herself wrote her reviews for those books that she disliked with as much class as you’ve handled hers. I have no desire to read or support this author. Good riddance.

  30. M.A.
    Aug 07, 2011 @ 23:21:02

    Hi, everyone.

    As a reader, a reviewer, and an aspiring author of erotic romance, I’ve come to understand that concepts of “sexy” differ among individuals. Obviously the erotic content in this book doesn’t appeal to the reviewer. That’s okay. Other people might be fine with it, That’s okay, too.

    I’m catching up on your reviews and had to chuckle over this one. What you call “quirky sense of humor” for this “author,” I call cyber-bully, tacky, and classless. If only katiebabs or kt or whatever she calls herself wrote her reviews for those books that she disliked with as much class as you’ve handled hers. I have no desire to read or support this author. Good riddance.

    Who are you? What have you written?

  31. Jules
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 14:27:39

    Save your time and money! Frankly, I’m surprised Dear Author reviewed such drivel. Grant is a terrible writer and an even worse book reviewer. Like her books, her reviews are tacky, bullying tirades, especially those reviews of books she doesn’t like. Given what I’ve read, she’s got a lot of nerve dissing any book!

    @Sheila: I agree with you completely!

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