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All posts for the month May, 2013

Lightning Reviews of erotic romance

Published May 13, 2013 by Shannon

I want to talk a little bit about two recent erotic romances I’ve read. They explored similar themes, and were compelling in their own right, but I thought a comparison would be interesting.

Sheltered

Sheltered by Charlotte Stein was my first exposure to this author’s work. What I immediately noticed was how deeply entrenched I was in the POV of Evie, our heroine. She’s grown up in a religious home, under the control of a domineering, abusive father. Then she meets Van, who is hot and sexy and who intrigues her. Her struggle is that she is inexperienced and she’s sure she can’t possibly have anything to offer him.

I loved the setup for this story. Van and Evie felt like any kids I might meet wandering around somewhere. I thought their awkwardness and their rawness was appealing, and I loved that each of them had to struggle with wondering if they were saying the wrong things. I also enjoyed the fact that Evie’s sexual inexperience isn’t something to be cherished. It’s kind of intimidating for her, because she doesn’t quite know how to ask for what she wants. Van goes very slowly with her, though, and turns out to be a caring, attentive lover. He gradually coaxes more out of Evie than she thought possible for herself, which in the end is what makes this book so satisfying. It has a bit of a fairy tale quality, and in the end I felt that the story was sweet and endearing and surprisingly empowering.

My grade: a B+.

Curio (Curio, #1)

Curio by Cara McKenna was a different take on the inexperienced heroine finding herself through lots of sexytimes. Didier was also hyped all over my romance blogging Twitter stream as one of the hottest heroes out there, so I entered the book with my cynical hype alert going full-boar.

Caroly is living in Paris as a curator for an art museum. She’s nearing 30 and she decides she wants to get rid of her pesky virginity, and there’s this superlatively beautiful model who sleeps with women. They agree to meet, and he is everything she’s ever hoped he would be. Soon Caroly and Didier are scorching up the sheets, but of course, their hearts get involved, too.

The thing I liked about Caroly was that she knew what she wanted. It wasn’t like, “Ooh, what are these strange fluttery feelings?” She takes control from the start, and Didier is happy to oblige her. I liked that, as with Sheltered, the sex scenes were integral to the story and showed the progression of the couple’s growing feelings.

That said, ultimately Curio wasn’t as satisfying for me. I can see, objectively, that the writing is better than Sheltered, but Sheltered hooked me. Curio never did. The reason for this is the first-person point of view. I don’t inherently have a problem with first person narration, but I thought it was an odd choice. It was as if Caroly–and, of course, by extension, the author–was really trying to sell me on Didier. All kinds of superlatives were used to describe him, and we do get glimpses of what lies beneath the surface of his character, but I still ended up feeling a strong vibe of YA romance. “He’s the cutest boy ever, and soooo dreamy.”

The POV didn’t put me off reading the other Didier stories Ms. McKenna has written. I’m not in a hurry to do so, but I do like her writing, and I’m curious about where else she can take Didier as a character.

My grade: A B.

Sunday Checkin- Where have I been?

Published May 12, 2013 by Shannon

My last blog post was in September. It is now May. A whole school year has come and gone since I last updated. For shame.

So what’s been going on? Let me make a list.

  • 1. I moved halfway across the country. (a good decision, though I miss my family)
  • 2. I got a job as a Reader’s Advisor at the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library. (More on that in future posts, I’m sure, but money and a job are both good things.)
  • 3. I have not been reading nearly as much as I would like, but I’m still plugging along.
  • 4. I have become friends with my roommate’s guide dog. I definitely want one of my own, if I ever get the vacation time for it.
  • 5. Part of my trip to work involves a ferry. Or, as one of my friends put it, somewhat incredulously, “So you’re telling me you go to work on a boat?” Yes, ma’am. That is what I’m saying.

I do want to talk a bit about my job, as it does relate to the purposes of this blog. Basically, our library lends books out throughout the state to patrons who are print-disabled. We’re part of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and we’re also affiliated with the Washington State Library.
My day involves a lot of talking to people on the phone, many of whom are elderly, and trying to find appropriate books for them. Most of them simply can’t come in and browse the shelves at our library anyway, and it makes picking out books somewhat difficult.

I enjoy my job. The rest of the staff is warm and friendly, most of the patrons are extremely nice, if clearly somewhat lonely, and at the end of the day I feel rewarded because I’m keeping someone apprised of books.

The downside of my work, though, is that I’ve become more conscious of how much the Internet is a privilege. Many of our patrons are elderly, and don’t have computers, or couldn’t use them if they did. Many of our books are downloadable only. I, on the other hand, have thousands of books at my fingertips. I could go to Audible and buy any old audiobook I wanted. I have access to Bookshare, a website for the distribution of ebooks to the print-disabled. And now both the Nook and Kindle apps are accessible on my iPhone. there isn’t perfect accessibility–not every book I ever want to read is on one of those services–but I have it a lot better than my patrons do. Particularly if I want to research a specialized topic. As one of my colleagues put it, we have the contents of a small branch library in an affluent district. Which is fine for most things, but I know it frustrates people when we can’t fill their specialized niches.

I don’t know what the solution is. Clearly, everyone should be able to afford an iPhone and a computer, and there should be some magical way of transferring knowledge about how to use those devices into people’s brains somehow. Except there isn’t. And in a way I’m glad there isn’t, because I like that these older people need me. I just wish they didn’t have to.