So I read a book last month.
I know, I know. This is very exciting that someone who runs a book blog has read a book. Let’s all celebrate.
Obviously I’ve been pretty open with my struggle to finish any of the books I’ve started this year, and I’ve detailed the issue on multiple blog posts and Instagram posts and spent a lot of time speculating about the cause of this reading slump. On a few occasions, a certain story managed to suck me in and I prematurely thought “AH HA! The slump is over! I just needed the right book!” (wrong.)
In September I read a blog post that mentioned a book by Melanie Harlow and I was intrigued by something mentioned in that blog post that made me kind of…morbidly curious I guess you could say.
Before I go any further I just want to make it clear in case ya completely ignored that title up there, we’re talking about a book – and by extension other books – with explicit sex scenes. So if that’s not your jam you can feel free to skip this one right here.
I happen to both read and write these types of stories so I really enjoy finding new authors that I had not previously heard of so I can see if I enjoy their writing style. A LOT of the time, unfortunately, I don’t.
This might just be something that has become more prevalent because of the rise of self publishing but there are a LOT of terrible stories out there and it does seem that many of them are camped out comfortably in the erotica section. Now, when I say terrible stories I’m not trying to be mean and insult someones hard work, and I don’t mean terrible because I simply didn’t enjoy the story. I’m talking about the ones with painfully unrealistic dialogue and scenarios, horribly unlikable characters and a lack of basic understanding of human anatomy and biology
As an example: One book I read recently had the female main character become pregnant at the end of the story, and the male character (the father) had no idea she was expecting yet…and she thinks to herself that she needs to tell him soon…as she feels the baby kick.
…If you’re a person who has ever been pregnant, you probably know that generally speaking, that’s not really how that works. If your baby is kicking and the man you’re being intimate with doesn’t realize you’re pregnant, something is not quite lining up there.
So anyways, let’s talk about this book:
My very first critique about this book is that I don’t like the cover. Nothing against this particular cover model, he’s a very good looking man. But the pose, composition, facial expression, everything that goes into this cover image, none of it does anything for me personally and I’m just not a huge fan of the overall effect. He looks like he’s mad at me. Or bored listening to me talk (Understandable.) This is especially noticeable to me when I compare this cover to her other covers some of which I actually think are really beautiful:
Things I Enjoyed…
One of the main reasons I loved this story was that the characters & the dialogue were actually very realistic. This is obviously something that is really important to me, but I swear nothing makes me roll my eyes and cringe more than dialogue that reads as if the writer has no clue how people actually talk to each other. The dialogue in this flowed very naturally, the banter between characters was extremely realistic and some of the dialogue actually made me laugh out loud a few times – in a good way! I was really impressed. Also the chemistry between various characters seemed to unfold in a natural and realistic way.
Another thing I loved was the fresh perspectives. Admittedly, I’ve only read one of her books so far (and a bit of a second one) and I’m already blown away by some of the themes that are introduced and addressed in her books. We’ve got characters who have dealt with divorce, infertility, infidelity, loss of a spouse and more. There’s blended families. Single parents getting a second chance at love while juggling raising their kids. Characters in their mid to late 30’s who have life experiences beyond what is typical for stories in this genre. I found that to be extremely refreshing.
Some of the sex scenes were not exactly my…preference. They were well written, just not my style. There was a role play aspect to some of them that just kind of made my skin crawl and I just don’t really find that very sexy. Some of the scenes were actually pretty decent – I’d say about half. None were amazing but I feel like maybe that will be different in her other books when it’s other characters involved, because I feel like even though these scenes weren’t my particular style of sexy, I felt like they were authentic to her characters. If that makes sense at all. With a lot of these types of books, the sex scenes are very cut and paste from one story to the next. There’s no personality to them. These ones, as much as I personally didn’t find them very appealing, I can’t deny they matched the characters personalities. I was really impressed with that and I’m curious to see how these types of scenes will play out in her other books.
My Biggest Complaint…
One thing I didn’t love about this story (Spoiler Alert) is something that is common in this genre, and that’s the whole dynamic of the girl needing to basically beg the guy to admit he loves her. I can’t stand it, and it seems to be the route a LOT of these stories take for one reason or another. Usually it’s because he has some tragic back story or he’s been hurt in some way and now he’s afraid to commit or something like that so he pushes her away.
Almost every time, it plays out like this: they’re having a great time, eventually something happens where the subject of “Where is this going?” comes up, she begs for some sort of commitment – which is especially understandable considering they’ve been acting very much like a couple in love the entire time already, but for some reason this terrifies him and he freaks out and he plays the “I can’t be what you need!” card, they fight and she flees with a broken heart. He’s miserable without her of course, until someone talks sense into him and makes him realize he loves her, then he goes to find her and get her back, yada yada yada, HAPPILY EVER AFTER!
I’m assuming (hoping!) that this will also be something that will offer more variety throughout her other books, and I’m excited to find out. I’m hoping it just unfolded this way in this particular story because it fit their story. And it did, don’t get me wrong. I’ve just seen it so much in other stories that I’m really sick of it. It would just be nice for the guy to chase the girl for once, y’know? Or for them both to just be ready to commit or something. I don’t know. Find a new obstacle!
Wrapping It Up…(this review I mean. But also practice safe sex!)
In summary, I loved this story ESPECIALLY because it was unlike a lot of what I’ve read in this genre in the past. The things I didn’t love really didn’t take away from the overall enjoyment of the story itself, and I’m very much looking forward to reading more of Melanie Harlow’s books. Right now I’m working my way through Unbreakable, which is really good so far and I’m looking forward to seeing how it unfolds.
Thank you for reading this blog post. Leave me a comment below, let me know if you’ve read any Melanie Harlow books and which was your favourite if you have. Are you a fan of erotica/sexy stories or is it not your cup of tea? Got any author recommendations for me? I’d love to hear from you.
Stay safe and happy reading!