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Jealousy

REVIEW:  Reflected In You by Sylvia Day

REVIEW: Reflected In You by Sylvia Day

Dear Ms. Day:

Part of my response to this book is in direct correlation with my biggest fear for the book – that the conflict between Eva and Gideon would be unnaturally extended as we worked our way through to the end of the trilogy. Fortunately that did not happen. If anything, I wondered if Eva and Gideon’s issues could be resolved with only one more book to go.

Reflected in You by Sylvia DayI’m not sure if you could start with Reflected in You and I don’t think you would want to. Bared to You  lays important ground work for the two main protagonists.

Eva and Gideon are two very screwed up individuals. Eva has been in therapy for years to recover from abuse from her step brother. Gideon has night terrors that cause him to attack Eva in her sleep, nearly raping her. Their relationship is neither tender nor sweet. It’s volatile and crazy with huge swings of emotion.

There isn’t necessarily a plot in Reflected because this is a character driven, relationship driven story.  They both want the same thing – to be together.  However, neither of them have been in healthy relationships and thus have no past experience from which to draw.  They go to therapy together but tell the therapist that the only thing that is off the table is for the two of them to stop seeing each other.   Problematically, their behavior (mostly Gideon’s) prevents the two from achieving stability.

Gideon is secretive and possessive. He wants Eva at his side every second of the day. Eva is straining at his possession because she feels part of her past problems have been related to being subsumed by emotion and acting out in negative ways. The story begins with Eva and her best friend heading for Vegas. Gideon doesn’t want her to go but compromises if Eva stays in a property owned by him.

When she arrives, she discovers that Gideon has not only arranged for her stay but also her companions in the form of one female bodyguard that intervenes when Eva is engaged in a harmless flirtation with a guy at the hotel pool bar. Eva then arranges for Gideon to have his very own bodyguard which he accepts with some chagrin. I think this scene typifies Eva and Gideon’s relationship. Gideon takes liberties with Eva’s life and Eva retaliates. It’s unhealthy but that *is* the book. It tells the story of two dysfunctional people and their very unhealthy relationship.

This isn’t one a story about two people who love each other and communicate well. This is a story of two people who have love each other madly, endure wild emotional swings but for all their neuroses and troubled mental states, I do feel like they belong together. The story is unapologetic about the insanity of their relationship. But their chemistry is a visceral thing. Their need and desire for each other is tangible.

Of the two, I felt that Eva had achieved some peace in her own mind and she was far more proactive in this book. She dealt with the demons of her molester, in part.  She stood up to another woman who she felt was threatening her relationship with Gideon.  She even learns ways of managing Gideon to some extent.  Gideon, however, is more screwed up than ever if that is even possible.  It’s a messy love story and I’m happy to watching from the sidelines.

[spoiler]The ending is shocking in my opinion and takes a vigilante turn that I did not expect. This will not and probably should not sit well with people and you have to wonder how these two will turn the corner. However, I admit that the build up to the final scene worried me in that I wondered what lame excuse Gideon would come up with for his actions toward Eva (which included neglect, lies and possible straying). The excuse wasn’t lame at all and so in that respect I felt relieved. It was an emotional ride for me.[/spoiler]

B-

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW:  The Gift by Eva Cassel

REVIEW: The Gift by Eva Cassel

I'm always looking for good f/f/m and this story was recommended to me by another reader.   The only other Harlequin Spice short I've read, Tonight, My Love, by Tracie Sommers, was very memorable.

The Gift is sexy, unique, and well-written.   It opens with Mia and her husband, Evan, at a cocktail party.   They've been married ten years and still have that spark.   The sex is fantastic because they both like to mix it up and keep things fresh.   I loved the portrayal of their relationship as erotically charged and never complacent.

The Gift by Eva CasselMia enjoys watching Evan flirt with other women.   He does it to arouse her.   It's a game they play, each teasing the other.   After the party, she decides to buy him an erotic massage for his birthday.   While she is ordering the sexual services by phone, the provider (madam?) offers a "couples special."   Mia can be massaged, too, for the same price.

At first, Mia hesitates.   She wants to watch, not join in.   She'd also rather have a male masseur for herself but she chooses a female for Evan.

As a reader who bought this story for the f/f content (which isn't easy to find at a mainstream publisher!), I stumbled over Mia's thought processes.   The last thing I want to read about is a reluctant three-way.   In order for any sex scene to work for me, the participants must be willing.

Luckily, Mia is intrigued by the idea of doubling their pleasure and agrees.   On the night of Evan's birthday, she can hardly contain her excitement.   Evan doesn't know about the surprise, but Mia looks so hot and bothered that he can hardly contain his erection.

Most of this story is sex, and everything below can be considered a spoiler.

[spoiler]The lady masseuses show up.   Not just one, but two erotic experts.

I feel deflated.   This isn't a steamy ménage!   Why is there is a superfluous masseuse?

But I'm already halfway through the story so I go with it.   Mia watches Evan get his erotic massage, which is apparently code for "hand job."   The extra masseuse is in training.   Ha!   Whatever.

After Evan ejaculates all over the main masseuse, who is wearing a sporty outfit (because she's a professional), it's Mia's turn to be stimulated.   We finally see the reason for the second worker-’to penetrate Mia anally with a sex toy while the first one penetrates her vaginally.

If my description sounds clinical, it's because the scene reads like an explicit and well-researched sex manual.   The women reminded me of nurses performing orgasm surgery.   Mia and Evan don't talk to or touch each other during the encounter.   She watches him; he watches her.   Then she's blindfolded, and they can't even make smoldering eye contact anymore.

I think I get what the author was going for.   The couple has made it a habit to separate at social functions, not giving in to the urge to chat or hold hands.   Once they get home, they're all over each other.   Staying apart actually brings them closer together.

I can appreciate the craft of this story, and the author's intent.   Mia's chemistry with Evan is scorching and her arousal is described in lush sensual detail.   But the truth is that the scenario didn't work for me on multiple levels.   Let me break them down.

  1. Evan gets off first.   Wouldn't it have been more exciting if he'd watched Mia and the masseuses while aroused, rather than satiated?
  2. This is an exhibition/voyeur fantasy, not really f/f.   There is no attraction between Mia and the workers.   They are strangers doing a job.   I think I would have preferred some kind of sexual connection.   Basically, if I don't believe the characters would kiss each other, I'm not sure I want to see them engaged in sex acts.
  3. Did I mention the fourth wheel?   Awkward!

On the other hand, the above elements are a matter of personal taste.   The story might work better for a reader who isn't into f/f.   Kissing creates intimacy, and most m/f fans don't want the heroine to have a full-on lesbian encounter.   The extra woman cuts that tension by making a ménage unlikely.   Mia's climax as the finale can be considered female-centric.

[/spoiler]

I was looking for spicy f/f/m and probably wouldn't have been satisfied with anything less.   The Gift turned out to be a different package altogether.

But I can't mark down this story for not being my favorite fantasy any more than I can fail a BDSM for being "too ouchy."   Cassel writes well and I loved the married-not-dead dynamics.     This isn't a throwaway piece.   B

~Jill Sorenson