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REVIEW: Odalisque by Annabel Joseph

Dear Ms. Joseph,

Jane sent me your book and asked me to give it a try. She told me that she liked your writing style, but not the subject matter. Not knowing anything about this book other than it was erotica, I sat down to give it a spin and quickly found myself immersed in the book. Jane is correct in that you do have an easy to read style, and I read this book in a very short period of time because I wanted to find out what happened next. In the end, however, I’m going to have to chalk this story up as well written, but not for me. The heroine was passive beyond believe, the hero was repulsive and juvenile, and I felt the emotion was lacking.

Odalisque Annabel JosephOdalisque starts out with Kai Chandler, a half-indian millionaire/billionaire at a party. He is still hurt and seething over his divorce from his ex-wife, who aborted his child three times without telling him and cheated on him, and in the end, walked away with 35 million dollars. His friend Mason suggests that what Kai needs is an Odalisque. There is a place in France where one can purchase an odalisque’s services for a year. She will, in turn, live to serve him sexually. Kai is extremely enthusiastic about such a relationship – he wants a woman to have sex with, but he doesn’t want to bother with messy things like emotions and dating.

Kai arrives at Maison Odalisque and learns about the Code d’Odalisque.

“I never said anything about emotion,” Bastien corrected him. “I meant worshipful in a sense of sexual worship. Craving, desire. We have a word for it, a coarse word perhaps: cockslavery. It is a state to which all odalisques aspire.”

It’s a serious moment, but I’m afraid I laughed at the term.

Kai and tells the man in charge what he is looking for in a woman.

Kai felt put on the spot, so he just came out with the basics. “I like longish hair. I like creative women. I like nice tits but nothing fake. I like large features–big mouths, big noses. Expressive eyes. I like normal bodies, not too thin, not too fat. Maybe a little fat. I like curves. I love curves,” he amended a moment later. “I love curves a lot.”

Maison Odalisque conveniently has a curvy, long haired creative woman with a big nose. Her name is Constance. She is shy and sweet, but when commanded, immediately drops to her knees to service Kai and give him the best blow job of his life. They have sex again the next day, as the odalisque house has a ‘kick the tires’ policy. But when Kai finds out that Constance is deaf, he initially doesn’t want her but changes his mind. Constance follows him to LA once her contract has been purchased and moves in. The story unfolds as Constance and Kai begin to live together and try to overcome the challenges of their relationship – namely, her deafness and the fact that the relationship is a paid one.

I thought the set-up was decent but there were lots of uncomfortable moments.

I have to say that I disliked Kai. He acts like a fifteen year old boy, not a mature man. Just the conversations about odalisques with his friend Mason are enough to make him want to whip his dick out in public.

“Sorry. But seriously, it’s fucking hot. These women literally exist to accommodate cock. They live for it. They do whatever their owner desires sexually. Whatever. Nothing of a sexual nature is off limits.

Kai was going to start masturbating himself in a moment.

Kai thinks of the heroine, Constance, as nothing more than a receptacle for his lust.

Kai shifted and shrugged. “I can assure you Constance is going to have my cock in her face and in her holes plenty of the time she’s with me. Constance-ly, if you know what I mean.” Kai thought he was hilarious.

Bastien didn’t crack a smile.

And

Afterward he turned her over and nuzzled her and gazed into her wide eyes.  He said “Good girl,” and her smile told him she understood.

I felt like this was a statement one would give to a dog, not a bed companion.

I kept waiting for this to change through the book, that perhaps Kai would realize his selfishness for Constance, but I never felt like he grew in appreciation for Constance. She remains a pretty hole on the first page and the last page of this book. Furthermore, through most of the book, Kai seems to resent Constance’s deafness. He is constantly turning away when she speaks, or annoyed that she cannot hear him play the piano. He takes her to the doctor even after she says there is nothing to be done, just to check one more time.  I didn’t feel as if he was reconciled with her deafness inasmuch as he would just tolerate it because it was the only way he could have Constance.

Constance was a very weak character as well. She was extremely passive, and I wasn’t sure if it was because of her odalisque training or because that was simply how she was written. Since this is erotic romance, there is a lot of sex in this book, and not all of it is with the hero. They have scatter parties (a hardcore hide and seek). Kai constantly shares Constance with his friend Mason. They are not exclusive because of the ‘lifestyle’ which involves a lot of swinging and sex, and Constance is game for it, as well as Kai. I found this bizarre given that his big hang-up with his wife was trust, yet he was willing to hand Constance out to people on a regular basis. At times, Kai didn’t seem to care who was sleeping with Constance, just as long as it didn’t affect his need for her.

I realize this review probably comes across as harsh. You’re a good writer. It was an interesting setup for all that I had to suspend disbelief. I appreciate BDSM and I appreciate erotic romance.  The sex was hot enough, but it lacked emotion. Overall, I felt like the story was a little too clinical for me and lacked the emotional growth I wanted to see. Couple that with an unlikable hero and I’m afraid I won’t be picking up more of your books. It’s not that they’re bad. It’s just not for me.

All best,

January

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January Janes

January likes a little bit of everything. She's partial to unique paranormals, erotic romances, contemporary, and YA. She has a fondness for novellas and trying self-published works, though more of those are misses than hits. She still refuses to read anything that smells like literary fiction. January also changes this bio on a regular basis depending on her reading mood.

9 Comments

  1. Diane
    Feb 15, 2012 @ 18:58:00

    Certainly not what I was expecting to read about today. I have nothing against erotic romances, I read them myself, but this is a different story at least.

    ReplyReply

  2. LG
    Feb 15, 2012 @ 19:40:33

    Does “erotic romance” really apply to this? From the sounds of things, there’s not even enough of an attempt at emotion for it to be what I’d consider romance.

    ReplyReply

  3. Angie
    Feb 15, 2012 @ 19:49:57

    I agree with LG. From what you’ve said, I’d call this straight erotica, not any kind of romance. Nothing wrong with erotica, but if it’s being marketed as an erotic romance when it’s not a romance, that’s a problem, for both readers and writer.

    Angie

    ReplyReply

  4. Ridley
    Feb 15, 2012 @ 20:27:52

    I beta read this and haven’t read the finished book. That said, this is definitely erotic romance and not erotica.

    Erotica is where the story is about a character’s growing understanding of his or her sexuality. If this were erotica, one or both characters would have discovered something new about themselves through their sexual encounters. As it is, though, they begin and end the novel with the same understanding of who they are, sexually.

    Erotic romance is when the story revolves around a growing romantic relationship where the characters’ sexuality ties into the conflicts. This book is definitely at least trying to sell a romance arc where this “odalisque” lifestyle creates a conflict that delays the HEA.

    If anything, it’s an erotic romance suffering from poor execution.

    ReplyReply

  5. Jane
    Feb 15, 2012 @ 20:34:43

    I think my problem with this book was mainly how I felt that the Odalisque lifestyle was held up to be empowering yet it is the rich men who go to some pet store in France to see all the Odalisques, watch their “training” sessions, and then take one home to be their cockslaver. AND Constance didn’t even believe in the Odalisque code. So her own opinions and feelings undermined this supposed form of feminine empowerment. Granted she does get to play with Kai’s money in the end of the story but she still has no agency of her own.

    ReplyReply

  6. cbackson
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 15:46:26

    I haven’t read this book, but I feel like I’ve read a number of books lately in which the awfulness of the hero’s former love is illustrated by the fact that she secretly aborted his child. Personally, I do think that important reproductive choices of this nature should be discussed between partners, but it *really* bothers me to see an abortion held up as the sign and symbol of the former lover’s unworthiness. Particularly if it’s contrasted with the heroine’s maternal nature or eagerness to bear children.

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  7. Merrian
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 22:05:16

    @cbackson: I really agree with you

    ReplyReply

  8. Junne
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 14:53:47

    The book felt weird to me and I didn’t finish it, but I love this author and enjoyed her other books. To me, the whole Odalisque concept is another word for prostitution, and not the fancy kind. Too reminiscent of modern day slavery to be erotic.

    ReplyReply

  9. Gilbert Pantoliano
    Feb 18, 2012 @ 20:17:46

    Thanks for your clarification. I enjoy see clearly Marcy Lu

    ReplyReply

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