Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Erotic reading

I haven’t posted in a while so I thought I’d share thoughts on a couple of recent erotic novels, both of them with something different to offer the erotic reader!

First up is THE NEW RAKES by Nikki Magennis. I'm a big fan of Nikki's work. She’s a rising star in erotica and a name to watch out for in anthologies. CIRCUS EXCITE (her first novel) was a great read, so I was eager to get my hands on THE NEW RAKES.

This story is set in the indie music world. The protagonist, Kara, is a singer in a band, so that had my attention right away. I’ve set a couple of stories in the music world myself but both of them were from the fan’s point of view. Nikki takes us right to the heart of things and we experience Kara’s world racing through all our senses in vivid detail. She quickly shows us how the music world can be alluring, yet brittle edged and tough, all at the same time.

Kara is already embroiled in an edgy affair with her guitarist, Tam, when an old flame – and now head of a record company – enters the scene. Passion and conflict abound! I became deliciously entangled in Kara’s life as I read. Filled with tension and conflict -- and wildly erotic -- this story will have you fogging up your windows. The glam, gritty music scene makes THE NEW RAKES a unique read in the erotica catalogue. Rush out and buy it!

Victoria Janssen's novel, THE DUCHESS, HER MAID, THE GROOM, AND THEIR LOVER, is another unusual read. This one doesn’t fit easily into genre classification, which will be problematic for some readers. To my mind the novel is closer to a comedy of manners than anything else. It satirises the society it is set in, as well as our own society and our genre expectations. It is erotic, but with a literary edge. It is also a historical fantasy, but the fantasy angle is not immediately apparent. The story also defies genre expectations by giving us a much older heroine who is borne to a high place, and her lover who is a lowly groom half her age. It is Henri, the groom, who is doe-eyed and falling in love here, and we feel for him the way we might feel for the maid-heroine who falls in love with the powerful Lord-hero in a traditional historical romance. He is also the Eliza Doolittle of the story. The author plays with this reversal throughout. Camille even refers to her increasing desire for erotic encounters as being akin to a man’s midlife crisis. It is Camille who has to be tough and make decisions that are ruled by the head more than the heart.

Every erotic scenario you can imagine is portrayed here -- this is a big book! With a colourful cast and the sense of never being quite sure what was going to happen next, it kept me wondering. The campy sense of humour and comedy of manners angle also made it an intellectually entertaining read. I particularly enjoyed Henri's grounded sense of humour as he reflects on the crazy things that happen around him. As the story unfolds the fantasy world comes more richly to life. The characters and the eroticism also become more emotionally deep and complicated as they progress along their journey.

I recommend THE DUCHESS, but with the proviso that you don’t go into it expecting genre conventions to be observed. In fact I’m willing to bet that this novel will feature on reading lists in years to come because it defies convention and plays with our expectations in such a tongue-in-cheek way.

PS: Victoria, if you happen on this post, I wanted Sylvie to end up with Captain Leung. Just saying… :)


Wendy said...

I really want to pull out my copy of Victoria's book and read it NOW - but unfortunately have other reading obligations at the moment. Darn it all. I'm always intrigued by that melding of erotica and fantasy - and this one is a historical to boot. So naturally I'm beyond curious to try it.

Nikki Magennis said...

Saskia thank you so much! I'm delighted you enjoyed the Rakes. Big grins here!

I've also been wanting to check out the Duchess novel for a while. Is that a Spice one? Erotic with a comedic slant is so bloody hard to do - it sounds great!

Victoria Janssen said...

Thanks for the lovely and insightful review!

I tried, but Captain Leung seems pretty straight. I actually plan for her to end up with Maxime.

Sylvie, I think, will remain non-monogamous, but will definitely get together with Karl Fouet in future.

Wendy, the book is not truly a historical--it's a Ruritanian country, or perhaps an alternate universe. It does have historical trappings, though, taken from several countries and periods.

Victoria Janssen said...

Nikki, the book is from Spice--it was the December 2008 release.