Dear Ms. Glass:
I understand that this is your debut book. Yay! for you. Unfortunately, now people get to read and comment on the story. I liked this erotic romance novella but my expectations have been lowered by a spate of really poor erotic romance so I am tempering my recommendation for this short with that qualification.
Elijah Elliot and Beatrix London are partners in a struggling ad agency. They have both had very naughty thoughts about the other but neither has alerted the other to their attraction. I love the use of dramatic irony with mutual unrequited love. Most of the erotic scenes are the fantasies of each person acting out their desires. The book opens with Eli imagining Bea on her knees in his office, looking at him with helpless supplication and need, among other things (it is an erotic romance so its more than just heated looks and fevered touches above the clothes).
The lust that the two feel toward each other are interfering with their work. Eli nearly passes out from his office fantasy during one long ad presentation and Bea begins channeling her own subliminal desires into a new ad campaign much to the dismay of Eli and possibly their client. One night when Eli is hot and irritable, Bea offers to do his laundry in her apartment laundromat and cleverly, the issue of her washing his clothes is interwined with the emotional arc. The scent of her detergent is associated with her which drives Eli even crazier. Bea becoming intimate with Eli’s clothing further pushes her desire to touch the man inside the clothes closer to the surface.
The attraction between Eli and Bea felt genuine. Within the setting and their business relationship, it made sense for the two to disguise their feelings for one another, particularly when Eli felt ashamed of his desire to dominate:
It would have been easy to test the waters, to see if she returned his interest, but it wasn't just that he wanted Bea that was disconcerting, it was how he wanted her.
It also made sense that as their feelings grew and had no outlet other than the fantasy life that fighting and confusion would break out.
"Sick, are you getting a cold, or the flu, do you have a headache?"
Sex in a parking garage, out where anyone could see? He was considering it. Strongly. "Yeah, my head hurts like a sonofabitch, why?"
"Because you're cranky. You feel a little hot."
Woman, you have no idea.
The sex scenes were very hot and worked well within the structure of the story.
I had a few problems with the construct, though. First, Eli and Bea were supposed to be partners yet often I felt like Eli treated Bea more like a subordinate than an equal. I know that this is a dom/sub story but part of the power of a dom/sub story is the idea that the sub gives the dom power. In the work setting, however, when two people are purportedly equal there isn’t the same dynamic that allows a power shift between a sub and dom. In a lot of ways, Bea is described as more of an assistant than a partner in a creative ad agency.
There was a bit of inconsistency. During the first part of the book, Bea is always referring to Eli as Mr. Elliott which I thought was odd given that they were partners but maybe consistent with Bea’s desire to be submissive to Eli’s commands. Later, though, Eli says “You always call me Eli, Bea…Let’s try ‘Mr. Eliott’ instead, just for fun.”
Finally, I couldn’t get over the fact that Eli doesn’t have his shirts professionally dry clreaned. Have you ever tried to iron a man’s shirt? That’s some hot and tedious work but I suppose Bea, hot for Eli, would have done anything. This is a strong B- for me because it’s a very hot, sexy contemporary that portrays sexual desire in a positive way.
Sarah Frantz read it as well and offered these thoughts (and the same grade):
I enjoyed the balanced, positive, OMG!sexy view of BDSM in this book: Eli and Bea experiment with D/s, bondage, a little pain, and a lot of sex. And they do it in a fun, positive way. But all of that was overwhelmed, to my mind, by the fact that the author didn’t seem to have a strong handle on her characters. Their responses to each other, their motivations, and their actions seemed to switch randomly in ways that I consider to be symptomatic of a new writer. I mean, I get that Eli is confused about how his dominant fantasies can be a positive thing. I understand his concerns, considering his past history with a former lover, about how he treats a woman, but as soon as Bea pulls away from him because he’s being a jerk, suddenly he’s saying that their encounter was wonderful and positive and affirming? Their internal thoughts about their relationship seemed…slippery and inconsistent.
Also, the writing itself seems a little odd now and then: “No man should have that effect: the ability, with one look down the bridge of a Romanesque nose, to twist a sterling-demure woman into an internal cesspool of tarnished fantasies.” Really?
And finally, in the final scene in Bea’s apartment complex’s laundromat, Eli uses coins soaked in hot water against her skin as a small pain. They’re supposed to be hot enough to leave red circles on her skin, but Eli pulls them out of a full washer with his hands…petty, I know, but still, the small inconsistencies added up.
Overall, it was a cute story. And I liked the BDSM. The first two fantasies are super-hot. But overall, I found it to be the product of a still-immature writer. I’m looking forward to seeing how Ms. Glass improves. Grade: B-
Jane (and Sarah F)