REVIEW: Liberating Lacey by Anne Calhoun
Note: This is one of my longer reviews, but I promise that I only really laid out in detail what happens in the first chapter. It’s just a book that I enjoy thinking and talking about.
Dear Ms. Calhoun:
Thank you for sending me this book as it is not one that I would’ve picked up on my own. In fact, I was over at Ellora's Cave the other night buying myself a mobipocket version of this book (the PDF just doesn't transfer well) and looking to see if there was anything else I would want to purchase. The covers, the blurbs, the titles are so offputting that I left with purchasing only yours.
I hope that with this review I can allay some reader concerns that might arise from its cover, title and description. First off, this is not some skanky, highly sexualized cougar story that makes older women look ridiculous and predatory with a young, immature man. Instead it is a story about two people from different backgrounds, socioeconomic status, and age groups finding in the other the right match.
Lacey Meyers has just gotten a divorce from her husband of fifiteen years who she met at the age of 19 and married at the age of 22. The two of them drifted apart, more so on her husband’s end than hers. Intellectually, Lacey understood. Her ex husband had fought to become the partner in a well heeled law firm and he wanted to forget his hard scrabble past. Lacey, who was grew with him, knew too much about his past and his struggle for him to enjoy being a success now. It probably didn't help that Lacey had a trust fund and high powered career of her own, something her ex would always have a hard time measuring up to.
Lacey decides that she will experience the life that she missed out on having married so young. While married, she lived vicariously through the exploits of her single friend, Charity. In somewhat of a role reversal Charity married and had two kids about the time Lacey's marriage was ending. Charity gives instructions to Lacey on how to navigate the Meet Cute, the hookup, and the aftermath.
Tired of meeting the same people over and over-‘lawyers, bankers, real estate men–Lacey heads off to Buff, voted the city's hottest club. Once there, Lacey is made uneasy. Everyone seems so much younger, hipper than her despite her tight jeans and backless shirt. Even if she wanted something different, and she does, would her interests coincide with someone else's?
While standing at the bar and surveying the crowd, a tall dark and handsome young man approaches to order a drink and briefly touches his fingers to the skin on her waist as he attempts to maneuver past her. Lacey admires this man fully but is quite certain that a man who can excite a woman with just a finger touch would rather be going home with one of those lithe young women. Yet Lacey and stranger who happens to be Hunter Andersen engage in a serious flirtation which leads them onto the dance floor and then into the parking lot.
Lacey understands this to be a hookup with all the hookup rules, rules with which Hunter is intimately familiar. Charity points out later in the book men like Hunter write the rules for the hookup. Yet knowing the rules and following them are two different things. Yes, Hunter could be called a player. He rarely sleeps at a woman's house and he's not dating a woman for emotional gratification. Lacey's class, her willingness to try anything, along with the spectacular time in bed, do something for Hunter that keeps him coming back.
This book shines as an erotic romance because sex is used to highlight how physical intimacy is quite different than emotional intimacy. And because the sex scenes are incredibly hot. But at one point, Lacey tells Hunter that if he has sex this good with everyone, he is a very lucky man, keying in on the fact that sex with emotional intimacy is so much more powerful.
Hunter is a very good lover. He watches Lacey for cues on how to make it hotter for her each time because, well, as he ruminates one time to himself "the hotter the girl, the hotter the blowjob" or later:
Her pulse pounded in her throat and she recrossed her legs for the dozenth time that evening. "Why did I have to ask? Maybe I've misread you, but I don't get the sense you have a problem with-what I'm asking for."
He pinned her to the back of the booth with a look, then leaned a little closer. "Are you hot right now, Lacey? Getting wet? You're shifting around like you're sitting on tacks."
Her heart stopped. Flat out stopped. She stared at him, her face flushing. He knew. He watched and knew, but he didn't push. She could drown in the space he gave her to just be.
"That's why you have to ask. Something about it makes you hot. Watching you explore makes me hot."
Hunter and Lacey have sex within an hour of meeting and while the relationship is primarily physical, Hunter is able to convince himself that the age, professions, money, lifestyle differences don't matter. Of course, these are just coping mechanisms. Hunter isn't ready to face down his fears and by telling himself that they don't matter, he can deceive himself into believing the relationship is superficial and when he is too scared to commit to anything deeper, he deceives himself into believing these things matter all too much.
I do have some minor complaints about this book which I will try to articulate. You have a tendency to write things in a non linear fashion. You'll start a section at the end of the scene with one or two sentences and the rest of the section will be what happened leading up to the end of the scene. I don't know if better section breaks would have made a difference but I would find myself backtracking to figure out what happened.
Another criticism was that I I had known more about the characters' background (I saw that this was a complaint of Sarah Wendell's and I completely agree with it). I enjoyed spending time with these characters and felt like a bit more depth and dimension could have been provided with more flavor around the edges such as Hunter's dad or Lacey's mom. They seemed little islands at times.
Liberating Lacey is one of the best erotic romances I’ve read in a long time but it is also a book for those who enjoy contemporary romances because the eroticism comes primarily from the graphic nature of the sex scenes. There is little to no kink. No ridiculous cocks that are jumping out of the pants and running down the street after the heroine’s twitching clit.
I read the book twice in as many days because I wanted to revisit particular scenes in the story. In rereading it was still as good as the first time so I hope other people find out about you and read your book. It’s an emotional read with two characters that I can fall in love with. B+.
The cheapest place to buy this is at Ellora’s Cave. EC lists its books at retailers at nearly three times the price it sells the books for at EC.