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REVIEW: Wicked by Sasha White

Dear Ms. White:

166899.jpgI haven’t written a DNF review in a long time. Generally, I don’t like to write them but in this case, I read all but the last 50 pages. I stopped because I felt the relationship depicted on the pages had such an uncomfortable power disparity I couldn’t move forward. I admit that my problem with the book is really a personal thing. I reacted negatively based on my personal belief/opinions.

Wicked starts out with a fresh premise. The heroine, Lara Fox, is a computer technician who installs a new system at attorney Karl Dawson’s office. Lara is a fun, sassy woman unafraid of her own sexuality. She flirts outrageously with Karl but while instantly attracted to him doesn’t do more than flirt because she’s just not sure about him.

Karl is no slouch in the opposite sex department himself but has become bored with his bed partners and sexual lifestyle of late. Lara is an instant turn on because (and this wasn’t so fresh for me) he believes for all Lara’s outward bravado, she is secretly a submissive.

Lara and Karl play a short cat and mouse flirtation but they both know where it will end up. Karl, however, wants to explore Lara’s suppressed submissive desires and Lara, well, she is up for anything once. Lara and Karl embark on a BDSM journey. Unfortunately for me, much of the journey seemed less about a sexual exploration than Karl turning to controlling every aspect of Lara’s life with uncomfortable fatherly overtones.

On more than one occasion he calls Lara “good girl” or “girl”. He gives her "homework" assignments. He begins to "break" her into being a true submissive by tying up another “girl” and fondling and fingering the other "good girl" to climax. He speaks to her like she is a child.

His fingers tightened warningly in Lara’s hair and he leaned forward to speak in her ear. “Jan is a good girl and has known me for years. You can ask her anything about me, our play together, and the lifestyle, but you do so with respect. She’s earned it.” He pulled back and met her gaze, showing her how serious he was. “You understand?”

“Good girl.”

“Good, you girls go become friends now.”

He spanks her as punishment, telling her that this is truly what she wants if only she would be truthful to herself. He laughs with a certain paternalistic pride when she asks questions about the D/S lifestyle and tells her she’s adorable or cute or something like that in her eagerness.

I found the story to be less about creating an emotional bond but more of a psychological bond as Karl requires more and more devotion and compliance outside the bedroom. It was more about the hero dominating the heroine in every way, dictating the way she dressed, what she put in her mouth, when she could come and when she could not. It was much more than play and I didn’t really get the sense that this as a healthy agreement between the two.

I think that because the heroine had been abandoned by her father at an early age (12 or so) that her latent daddy fantasies were all the more troublesome. Had the story been more about dealing with the characters seemingly deep seated neurosis (Lara abandoned as a child and Karl being a control freak), it might have been a moving erotic story. I won’t deny that the erotic scenes are steamy. You are great at writing those but the lack of introspection by Lara, especially, about how she gives her life over to Karl in every aspect, was something I simply could not get beyond. DNF.

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased in trade paperback or ebook format.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

24 Comments

  1. Keishon
    Jan 16, 2008 @ 17:17:59

    I haven't written a DNF review in a long time.

    You were due for one.

    I admit that my problem with the book is really a personal thing. I reacted negatively based on my personal belief/opinions.

    That can be a problem and I can relate. I saw this book and to be honest, I’m not interested in reading erotica or paranormals at the moment with the exception of the one you squeed over (Lara Adrian), which btw, was on the editor’s top picks at Amazon.com for top romance books of 2007.

    That other thingie I mentioned about the spell check. It’ weird but I don’t see it here anymore. Weird.

  2. troy
    Jan 16, 2008 @ 17:32:35

    I haven’t read this book, but your review of it reminds me of great classics in erotica: Journey Round a Darker Sun and The Story of O. Perhaps Wicked is more erotica than ER. As a big fan of both erotica (and ER) and Sasha White, I think I’ll like this book.

  3. Elise Logan
    Jan 16, 2008 @ 18:22:24

    I’ve been waiting for Wicked for a while. Karl was introduced as a secondary character in Bound, and I have been interested in him since that point.

    I’m sorry you found the book not to your taste, but I appreciate you taking the time to review what you read with intelligence and thought.

  4. Anonymous
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 01:57:38

    Is it possible we read two different books with the same title? 1. Lara was an auto parts delivery person. 2. Her mother was the one who abandoned Lara as a toddler.

  5. Karen Scott
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 02:43:55

    Well, I have to say, I wouldn’t have picked this book up in the first place, but if I had, I think I may have been tempted to write a full scale slice and dice review.

  6. Dana
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 05:38:54

    Thanks for the review. I totally understand about the personal preference thing. I have a friend who read this and did end up liking it, but she’s more into the erotica part of erotic than the romance. I personally don’t mind the hotter stuff, but I do like to be warned ahead of time so that I can choose to read it if I want to. (One reason why I like ebook sites for erotic romance. Not all erotica is equal. :0 ) Now I’m curious. I like her writing style and I have liked other stuff by Sasha White, maybe I’ll check this out when I’m bored.

  7. Jane
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 07:59:32

    Anonymous – my book had Lara as and oddsbody who did a number of jobs including car part delivery but she and Karl came into contact because she was installing a wireless system to his office. I don’t have any notation about her mother in my notes, but I do have the one about the father. I recall she was on her own for years.

  8. veinglory
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 09:01:54

    It is not an erotica vs. romance distinction–it is about female subordination as a theme which can appear in both.

  9. Bev(QB)
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 09:41:26

    Now that sounds like a perfect example of why I don’t read much BDSM. It’s not that I’m turned off by BDSM stories, it’s because most authors tend to dehumanize either the sub or the Dom. And without exploring the story from BOTH POV’s, the relationship just doesn’t work for me.

  10. Dana
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 09:42:01

    It is not an erotica vs. romance distinction-it is about female subordination as a theme which can appear in both.

    True. But it is a BDSM themed erotica aimed at hitting the kinks of that audience. I’m a bit weird in my reading tastes, if I come up on the ‘female subordination’ theme in a regular non-erotica literature (including romance) I stop reading, because it bugs the hell out of me. But in something like this (or at least I’m guessing, cause I haven’t read it yet) it doesn’t bug me as much. On the otherhand I hated the ‘bodice ripper’ novels of the 80s/early 90s because of the very dominant male v. weak female thing, and compared to stories like Wicked, they’re relatively tame.

    Heh, apparently I have a very schizophrenic reading taste.

  11. Dana
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 09:50:44

    And without exploring the story from BOTH POV's, the relationship just doesn't work for me.

    I agree with you. There’s a ton of BDSM fic out there, but I’ve only really liked a handful of them. BDSM only works for me if it’s character driven and not just a bunch of fetish scenes thrown together. But the sex scenes still need to be hot. :p The only authors I can think of right now that I like are Joey Hill and Morgan Hawke. (I’m a little brain dead from studying for my statistics test today.)

  12. Barbara B.
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 10:07:17

    Veinglory said-
    “It is not an erotica vs. romance distinction-it is about female subordination as a theme which can appear in both.”

    No kidding! I’m a long-time romance reader (30+ years) and it’s always seemed to me that female subordination, in one way or another, is at the heart of romance. Not every romance of course but certainly most of them. I utterly despise this yet I still read romance. I draw the line, however, at BDSM with female subs. I freaking hate that. I view submissive feamales with the same contempt I would an Uncle Tom. Hypocritically I cannot get enough of erotic romances with male subs, rare though they may be. If only there were more Joey W. Hills out there…

  13. Vanessa Jaye
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 10:30:12

    I haven’t read this book, yet, but I enjoy Sash’s writing very much. Full disclosure Sasha & I are friends. :-)

    As for BDSM, I’m not into reading it that much in romance. I do from time to time read BDSM blogs–where the female is submissive. I read out of curiousity. That level of submissiveness does not appeal to me on a personal level. In fiction, I read read and enjoy it more as a character study or a dynamic of power within a relationship. But I can’t say I get emotionally involved in those stories the way I would (want to) with a romance.

    As for submissive males? UGH. <–My personal and erudite opinion. lol. One of my very few “totally not interested in reading this *romance* now that I now it has this element”. I had to bold the ‘romance’, because I will read sub male in any other genre.

    And how’s that for getting way off topic re the review?

    btw, I love the cover.

  14. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 11:27:29

    Vanessa Jaye, read Joey Hill’s Rough Canvas (m/m) or Natural Law (m/f) for some totally hot submissive males. The best submissive males are alpha IRL, FWIW.

  15. vanessa jaye
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 12:19:26

    Vanessa Jaye, read Joey Hill's Rough Canvas (m/m) or Natural Law (m/f) for some totally hot submissive males.

    Sarah, how do i put this…. No. lol.

    With all due respect to Joey Hill I was quite interesting in reading this book based on all the positive buzz… until I realized the sub male angle. They just don’t work for me. I actually find myself getting angry with those scenes depicting the male/hero being submissive. (and I guess I have to puzzle how why this is. I am quite *resistant* to the thought of these books.) I end up despising the sub hero and thinking the dominant heroine as a bitch if she’s enjoying herself too much. This is only in romance genre books. Although… I have bought, but haven’t read yet the Kinsale book with the hero who likes a bit of rough ‘handling’ from the heroine. Some how, again from the buzz I read, the dynamics seem a bit different there. We’ll see.

    The best submissive males are alpha IRL, FWIW.

    This may be, (being so comfortable in his masculinity, that he knows the ultimate power is to cede it for his sexual fulfillment, yaddah, yaddah,) and yet, I don’t want my Alpha to be submissive in this way.

    I certainly want him protective of the heroine and those around him, etc. And be able to put their needs before his own. I certainly want him to have enough introspection to realize/admit his weaknesses. I want him strong enough to admit to the vulnerability that his love for the heroine opens up.

    And I don’t mind him being an ass while this is all going on. lol.

    But that submissive male thing is just not my thing in a romance. Give me a red-headed, bearded, burr-riddled Ochs!man in head to toe leather, with the firey pelt on his manly chest barely contained by his CK wife beater, and shit-kickers (tm JRW) on his size 18 feet, riding in on a tricked out monster bike fuelled solely with testosterone, and dragging his knuckles behind him, any day!

    Welcome to the ‘boy that Vanessa Jaye Sux' club. Lol.

  16. Cathy in AK
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 12:52:44

    (popping up out of lurk-mode)

    Don’t be shy, Vanessa Jaye, tell us what you REALLY like :)

    Thanks for the review, Jane.

  17. vanessa jaye
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 13:19:34

    While I am interesting –I pay good money for all my friends to tell me so. heh. –I actually meant to write: “With all due respect to Joey Hill I was quite interested in reading this book based on all the positive buzz…”

  18. veinglory
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 13:53:14

    We all have what we like and don’t like. I just wish male subs in non-BDSM romance, well, *existed* to any great degree. General it is ‘how sub do you want your female, just a lot–or good girl+spanking.

  19. Teddypig
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 14:20:38

    Well, I gotta say there is a big difference between Joey W. Hill and most BDSM Romance eBooks I have read. That being the author having some clue how to write “why” people would be turned on by the role or “how” they are turned on by the role they are attracted to.

    Sounds like that may have been lacking here and honestly depending on what type of dynamics are being used without that explanation even I can get a little leery of what I am reading.

  20. vanessa jaye
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 22:55:49

    Don't be shy, Vanessa Jaye, tell us what you REALLY like :)

    :-P Didn’t mean to come across ‘strident’, or rude(?). I think the reason I went on and on is because I’m not sure myself why I don’t like the characterization in my romance. I’ll puzzle it out eventually.

  21. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 18, 2008 @ 11:41:51

    Hey, no biggie. ;) In your description, you’ve described the best type of submissive male. It’s my contention that most romances are all about forcing the male into the kind of submission you describe, whether or not it looks like that from the outside. But that might be my particular bias speaking! :P FWIW, I haven’t found any male sub romances besides Joey Hill that I’m really willing to read. Except, of course, Laura Kinsale. ;)

  22. Barbara B.
    Jan 18, 2008 @ 12:22:47

    Sarah Frantz said-
    “FWIW, I haven't found any male sub romances besides Joey Hill that I'm really willing to read. Except, of course, Laura Kinsale.”

    Which Laura Kinsale book has a male sub?

  23. Sasha White
    Jan 18, 2008 @ 13:21:11

    Hi Jane,

    I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy WICKED, I feel it’s one of my best stories yet.
    I always strive to make a story emotional, and go beyond the sex scenes, and but as with all books, not every one is going to love it.

    As for male sub’s, I’ve read a story or two on them that I found enjoyable, but like any story, it’s because of the reasoning behind the actions, not the actions themselves. I agree, Joey Hill is a great example of well done BDSM stories with male sub’s.

  24. Kat
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 09:06:07

    Shadowheart, perhaps? That book made me go out and buy every Kinsale I could find. I didn’t find the male sub angle to be such a big deal until I read the comments on blogland. I barely noticed it at the time except to think, at one point, that the heroine was rather feisty for a ravished virgin.

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