January 1, 2013

Review: Three Stages of Love: Lust by TC Anthony

With an undeniable urge to dominate her new boss, her own lust-filled fantasies lead to a transformation that shakes her to her core. But when Alexander challenges Eva to satisfy her carnal urges, she is forced to choose between her career, her desires, and an unconventional and lustful relationship. Consumed by fear and forced to maintain control at all costs, Eva must decide if having it all is worth risking her career, her world, and possibly, love.

That's was what attracted me to this book. An undeniable urge to dominate her new boss. Sounds good - a conflict between bedroom and real life power, with all sorts of kinky and emotional tensions. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any evidence of the story that is described. I actually checked the synopsis several times, because I couldn't believe it was the same book. So there are two plots here - the one that is described and the one that I read. I'll describe the one I read. Presumably your milage may vary given that I clearly read a different book to the one in the synopsis.

Eva gets drunk in a bar with her friend Samantha, sees the sexiest man ever and drunkenly propositions him after falling over herself, literally. Her drunk friends desert her with a complete stranger. Sexy bloke chivalrously sends her home with his private driver (because he's loaded, obviously). 26% through the book all that had happened was that Eva had gotten drunk in bars with her PA, fell at the feet of and then been sent home chastely by a man clearly intended to be the hero, and talked a lot about how great she is. Over a quarter of the way through and I was still yet to see any evidence of Eva being dominant, no actual lust or sexy sex ('bad sex' with the token boyfriend isn't quite the same thing) or almost anything except Eva talking a lot. Mainly in bars while getting drunk. Getting drunk is not a good spectator sport, and even less fun when reading about it. She has an ill friend with cancer, who she visits and talks to a lot, presumably to show what a lovely, kind person she really is.

Eva also seems to be submissive. When eventually, Alexander gets around to appearing again, Eva spends her time thinking about how she wants him to spank her, fuck her against the wall, dominate her, etc. etc. (Yawn.) We hear about what a strong, dominant, spunky woman she is, but it's all tell, not show. I see no evidence of Eva being clever or dominant around Alexander. There's a phrase for this: she talks a good domination.

The tension is (or presumably would be if the plot ever actually moved on) that Eva doesn't believe in love. She was named after a poem about a woman who is totally obsessed by her tragic love, doesn't do anything but pine away in her life and then dies. Eva is determined to not be like this and thus avoids love. Unfortunately, Eva is also sooo desired by everyone and sooo amazing in bed that any man who has sex with her falls in love and spoils her 'sex only' rule. (It was surprising to hear that said, in all seriousness, in the first person.) Alexander on the other hand has never brought a woman back to his bachelor pad, has never licked out a woman - essentially there are a load of awkwardly contrived ways that Eva is "special".

The end for me was 56% of the way through; Eva is proving what a sexy, kinky minx she is, and she says this:
"Well, the salespeople at the adult store know me by name - I get a friends and family discount. I'm not offended by a little role-play and a light whipping on my behind, nor do I mind givinga [sic] whip or two. I like to be creative, you know...silk ties, showers, stone walls. And I can play the boss who happens to have a cup of ice on hand or the employee who knows exactly what to do with the boss's cup of ice."
"Ice." Alexander was intrigued. 
Wow. You kinky girl - silk ties and showers. The problem really is that although she says that she doesn't mind a bit of switching around, we have seen absolutely zero evidence of this in the first half of the book. I think that actually, this is closer to a permutation on the (dreaded) FSOG stalker billionaire man storyline, except with a sexually experienced woman. So instead of the stalker billionaire being the authority on everything, she is the more kinky, sexually experienced one (though not really kinky, because then she'd be bad). Admittedly, this is a different take to the standard Harlequin Modern nonsense. Eva isn't a virgin, which is good. But Alexander is still the dominant, even if Eva is rather topping from the bottom. As a remake of FSOG with the sexual experience (though not much else) reversed, this has its merits. As femdom, it doesn't work at all.

Maybe if I'd seen some latent dominance, or a dominant attitude towards Alexander (as opposed to the pathetic, inarticulate (and at first, literally speechless) pool of liquid lust that she turns into), I would be more convinced. Maybe if there was less tell and more show, I would be more convinced. Maybe if the plot moved at a pace faster than glacial timescales. Maybe if more happened in the story, that wasn't hanging out in bars passing notes like teenagers in class. Maybe if it was better written. Maybe if there was some of the advertised dominance and lust. Maybe then, I would have finished this book.


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