One reason that I actually am more inclined to read an erotic romance, such as Sugar & Salt and not just straight romance, other than the obvious one, is that Erotica, and in this case, erotic romance, is going to to also include some satire and social commentary. This has plenty, but I will save that for later. Right now, I have to go clean a toy *grin* and get a cup of tea. Continue reading for my thoughts on this wonderful story and also make sure to enter the giveaway Pav has put together with free paperbacks and eBooks from some of the best Indie Erotica authors around.
I have read this a total of four times now. The first time was when I beta read it during Camp NaNoWriMo last spring, the second time was when I got this for review. The third was this morning, and I read it again tonight. Why you ask? Ummm, well, one because I fell asleep during the second time I read it and wanted to make sure I did finish it because it evoked bizarre dreams. And the last time? Well, because it was so good, I was needing to feel better after being sick all weekend and I still had that wonderful warm feeling you have when you read a good story. Since it was a short read, why not? But let's get to the meat of this review, why is this book better or what makes it stand out among a sea of erotic romance?
First, as I mentioned above, I don't read most contemporary erotic romance on the indie publishing scene. I frankly have not found many authors that can break out of the set rules and boxes which have been set up and are proven formulas for romance (which include erotic romance). In the world of genre "marriage" Erotica and Romance have been merged to blend both the complexity of Erotica and the happy endings of romance allowing for a sexually terse and focused story. This story certainly has it all.
Without spoilers let me break it down why I feel it succeeds at both being an erotica and a romance. (this is my list and by no means am I even close to being an expert, but I read literotica all the time and I know what I like.)
- Sex, lots of hot steamy "gotta-break-out-the-toys" sex: Yep, there is sex in spades, darlin, in spades. Ms. Tyler dives right in with the tension needed for the the reader to be taken right along and feel Salt's tongue as he glides it up her thigh and tastes her. To feel his skin under our own nails as Janice runs them down his well defined back and ass... It pushes the boundaries and gives us a few glimpses with ass smacking, the obvious Dominance and submission from Sugar House, menage a trois, one night stands, casual sex... oh and let'ts not forget the museum.. oh.. my... GODS *clearing throat* Yep, it has at least five orgasms worth of sex in this tight little 146 page novella.
- Characters I like, and not just the main protagonists: OH and I certainly do like all the characters introduced and I think I rather love Portia and Jackson a bit more than the main characters even. BUt perhaps this is because their story has yet to begin and I am in love with the idea of it. I believe in the second book coming in spring of 2014 we will hear their story from the Sugar House. Devon (Salt) and Janice (Sugar) have immediate "flypaper" like attachment for me. Come on, what is not to like about a man who introduces himself in a speed dating instance with "I don't recycle" Right along with Janice we are just as intrigued and want to find out the mystery behind Greenpeace. This brings us to our next point...
- An actual Story: There has to be a story for me to follow and a reason for me to read it. Which means there has to be a device and a cause and substance. Sugar & Salt has all of these things. Much like the speed dating at the beginning, the pace is fast, but not rushed like many eroticas. It has this lovely perfect pace... a few cracks you can trip on, or a hem of a dress you need another set of heels to wear so you can enter the party without tripping. In other words... just right.
- Conflict and Resolution: Goes without saying there has to be some kind of conflict, something that is going to be an issue between the two who are involved, Sugar and Janice in this instance is a pretty basic one. He is working for the UN and he is fighting to make a difference from the point of view of the individual (ie: the one boy whose mother has been raped in front of him etc.. retraining women in the sex industry from third world countries.. see where I am going?). Which, as soon Janice finds out she knows they cannot be together, and why? Well because Janice is a high end Madame who runs Sugar House and she knows it would ruin him. As much as she respects herself, she is realistic and she runs an illegal business. In the end... we have resolution, the happy ending of the romance... Well almost.. almost.. and sometimes you don't have to have a full out orgams to "get off" on a story.WAIT, stop, no ax handles or vampires needed to resolve this conflict! Though perhaps a few smacks up side the.. or at least on the ass.
I'm at the beginning of a love affair with Janice, I want to be her Portia.. yep, and I am so not going to admit to whom I am fantasizing as being her. Pavarti wrote a character doing something which has such a stigma attached but doing it as honestly and with as much integrity as you can in the industry she is in. The big plus here is the social commentary of this. It speaks to the ability to be sexual without being degrading. Being empowered and still submitting to our needs. Perhaps I am reading more than some because of my lifestyle background, and perhaps it is because I have read the book many times.
Devon is strangely naive and as much as I wanted to kill him for his narrow mindedness (conflict which I won't go into aka spoiler) the menage a trois was really hot, and it showed me a baby Dom, a true Alpha (and not the alpha males which many romances talk about within the urban para rom genre but this is straight BDSM). I see so much potential for this couple and so many different adventures for the whole Sugar House family.
This really was a treat and I am honored to have Pavarti at the cabin again! Hey Pav, here is an extra Soy Caramel Macchiato to go, watch out for Herbert, he has been tetchy lately and has been throwing pinecones at my company. Don’t worry about the moose, he is to busy eating my dead trees to worry about anything! Oh and… thanks for the.. ummm (casting my eyes down) you know… *wink*
4 1/2 orgasms.. yep, I went there