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 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.
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.