Book 1 in a possible series about Foreign Affairs?
author's blog: http://shellmusings.blogspot.com
So this review is of an ARC provided, generously, by Langston for my review. This erotica, as most are, features a lot of sex. Just warning ya’ll, alright? With erotica there is a very delicate balance to be obtained. One can focus solely on the sex, which is fine. One can tone down on the sex and focus a bit more on the real life components, making it more like a really smutty romance. Unfortunately, I felt that Langston was trying to go for the real life components, and failed. Here’s a quick summary: Beth Mason and Yuri (no last name) met online at a multicultural dating site called ‘Foreign Affairs’. After e-chating and messaging for six months, Beth decides it’s time to take the next step – she invites Yuri (who lives in Belarus) to Stamford, NY for a visit. Yuri agrees, arrives, and the two enjoy a … ah… very good time. Right from the beginning. They continue to build their relationship, mostly through sex, until Yuri has to go home.
First – even in erotica (which is not to imply that erotica is less valuable or well written than romance - please do not flay me alive) - there are character standards to uphold. Langston’s characters are not at all who they say they are - which made what she was telling and what she was showing different. Thus the characters act inconsistently throughout the book. Take, for example, Beth Mason, our female protagonist. She claims to be always worried about her business, yet she doesn’t even check in or call once while she’s taking her vacation – even though she talks to friends and goes clubbing. My mother owns a small business, and even when we’re on vacation she checks in via phone every day and checks emails. Real people can’t let their businesses fall by the wayside for any reason, and that aspect of reality was missing from Beth’s personality. Also, Beth claims to be the cautious sort who doesn’t fall into bed with anyone upon first meeting them. While I understand that she’s known Yuri for months (over e-chats and stuff) the first meeting is still a first, and one of the first things they do is get him naked. Literally, they've said like 5 sentences to one another and then he's naked. It’s rushed, forced, and not consistent with what she claims is her character. I also wish we’d seen more of Yuri’s perspective. I lacked a true voice for him, even after finishing the book.
Second – Langston tries to infuse real world stuff into this erotica with discussions of jobs, marriage, a long-term relationship, etc. All of that reeks of a HEA which is more romance-y than erotica-y. That’s all well and good as well, as long as there is a relationship and discernible love under all the sex and lust - which there was not in this story. This left me concerned that this couple wasn’t going to make it (in life) after they, you know, finished 'making it'. Compatibility in bed does NOT equal compatibility in life. In most erotica, they don’t include plans for marriage for that reason – we don’t want to have to worry about the couple’s future compatibility and thus can focus solely on the sex and the here and now. Langston tries to write in a romantic HEA and future, and frankly that just didn’t work. She would’ve needed to write a lot more talking, compassion, and love into her story if that was going to work out. Other problems that should be mentioned include telling rather than showing and awkward phrasing which occasionally made me stumble as I was reading. The secondary characters were rather useless, I thought, as they didn't add much value and took away valuable time our protagonists could've been using to further their relationship. I didn't particularly like the external conflicts.
Now, who wants some positives? This erotica was refreshingly modern – a true contemporary. Langston uses terminology and technology that is totally ‘in’ right now. She talks about romance in life this very minute. Internet dating, the freedom of two mutual, consenting adults in a hotel room doing whatever they want… it was all very real and current which I found I really liked. I also liked that Yuri was unemployed (for the moment) and Beth is a competent businesswoman who owns her own bakery. That role reversal (and the idea that a woman can be the breadwinner in a relationship without the man getting all sulky and pouty) was also very modern. I liked that Beth got to pay for things and tip the room service. I thought it was a remarkable, subtle way for Langston to show women’s new and ever-growing independence in society and how men are becoming okay with that. Women and men in Langston’s erotica are closer to being equals than most any book I’ve read. Yuri isn’t a slacker, either, or a leech so I felt confident Beth wasn’t being taken advantage of. Finally, this book was a very fast-paced read, so it’s good if you’re on a short plane ride or need something to fill an hour or two.
Beth loved his hardened cock against her thigh. She pulled away from him for a minute to marvel at what she only had seen glimpses of during their late night echats. It’s everything that she had thought it would be and more. (my note: This one just made me laugh. Hysterically. She sounds like she’s talking about a new toy. I suppose she is, in a way.)
“How about that ‘other’ thing you and I discussed?” Kelly wondered.
Beth scrunched her eyebrows, “Other thing? What other thing?”
“The bulge.” Kelly smirked. “Inquiring minds want to know.”
“Beth, the two of you email and chat all the time. If you had waited any longer, your vay jay jay would have started to grow cobwebs.” (Kelly)
“Sexy”ness rating: Hot – with kink included (anal)
Overall Rating: D
Bottom Line: This book is good, but not fantastic. I would recommend it if you’re looking for something fresh, unique, and current because it fits all three of those. Unfortunately, the poor writing and character development really ruined this book’s chances of getting more than a C, and other issues pushed this book down to a D.
Published: July 26, 2011
A shorter version of this review is posted on Siren's Song Reviews here: Decadent Dreams by Ty Langston