Monday, July 28, 2008

Sex and Love by Lauren Hawkeye

TITLE: Sex and Love
AUTHOR: Lauren Hawkeye
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 18k)
GENRE: Contemporary erotic romance
COST: $3.99

Four college friends, inseparable for life regardless of who is dating who. Two men, two women, too many relationships. When one of the men announces he’s a virgin at twenty-eight, boundaries get broken when the other three decide to help him out. Nothing after that is ever the same…

Though the publisher’s site has this marked as a ménage, it makes me wonder just how they define the word, if they consider the inclusion of a solitary menage scene enough to label the entire story as such when, at its core, the story is a het romance. Desi, the 1st person narrator, has had a thing for Jude, one of her best friends from college, for a long time. The arc follows her, and while the issue of Trevor’s virginity spurs a ménage between him and the two women, with Jude as a very odd fourth who only watches and helps orchestrate the whole thing, it also sparks the het romance between Desi and Jude. The ending is a het pairing, too. The emotions are complex and interwoven, but for me, it’s just not a ménage. The two women have sexual contact in the ménage scene, but it’s done more because it’s what the men want, to titillate them, than it is for their own desires. There is also some confusion on Jude’s part on what he might feel for Trevor, but even there, the ultimate answer doesn’t lead to a ménage.

Readers of m/m might not be as satisfied with this story, either. The sole m/m scene is fairly aborted, and since it’s in 1st person, we’re also subjected to Desi’s thought processes during the entire thing. She is the one emotionally entangled with Jude, and it’s her hurt and confusion that overlays it. Her entire reaction to the climax of the story is overwrought and not quite in character with the rest of her actions.

However, in spite of all that, I have to say I really, really enjoyed the first two-thirds of the story. Desi’s narrative voice has a quirky charm, and the sexual scenes are both sensual and erotic. I committed to the complexities of their interpersonal relationships, probably because they seemed completely and utterly familiar. I believed them. What started out as types took on genuine personalities very quickly, and I was rushed into the swell of their lives by the time Trevor made his grand announcement about being gay. It felt like getting invited into the lives of four very good friends, a trip I welcomed until the last third of the story. Even then, I’d think of them with a smile.


9/10 – Engaging first person voice, though long, convoluted sentence structures tend to weigh heavy after a while


5/10 – I never really understand what the big deal is about him, because the narrator is so much about the whole group than just him for so long.


7/10 – If she hadn’t freaked out over the climactic emotional moment, this would be higher. I really enjoyed her voice for the first two-thirds of the story.

Entertainment value

7/10 – The pivotal event that sets the emotional climax of the story grated me, and ends up spoiling what would have been a higher score.

World building

8/10 – Some really great phrasing and details, though bigger picture tends to lapse.



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