Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What I Love About You

As much as I love erotica, the recent erotic-romance boom has left me largely unmoved. The books/authors that have worked for me are the ones I would classify as "erotica with romantic elements." I truly love romance, but for erotica I'm not necessarily looking for a love story. I'm also not necessarily looking for titillation. What I am looking for is character depth and a story that challenges preconceived notions of female sexuality. This has apparently been a tall order to fill, and for a while only Emma Holly was consistently delivering. Well, looks like I can now add Megan Hart to the list. Kudos to Harlequin Spice for snatching her up, because she's easily running away with my Biggest Discovery of 2007 award.

Broken tells the story Sadie, a psychologist living vicariously through the erotic stories that Joe tells her on the first Friday of every month when they meet for lunch. Joe might just hold the record for Most One Night Stands, and as he tells his stories (some sad, some funny, some very sexy), Sadie places herself in the starring female role. In reality, Sadie goes to work, then comes home to her husband - a brilliant, creative, maddening man she fell in love with in college. Adam is a writer, a poet, an exquisite lover, until a skiing accident turns him into a quadriplegic. They change, their marriage changes, and Sadie walks in a fog - lost until she finds Joe's stories that leave her feeling part guilty and part desperate.

What I loved about this book is that Hart makes you feel desperate right along with Sadie. This is a broken woman, with broken relationships, a woman who has lost herself and resigned herself to playing a role. She is who people expect her to be. She loves her husband, but the stress of his condition has taken a toll on their marriage. She's emotionally cheating, but she's so desperately hungry for anything remotely emotional the reader can't help but bleed for her. This is a woman who breaks down and sobs after a massage when she realizes nobody has physically touched her in a very long time.

I love how Hart never makes things easy for her characters. There are ugly realities in this story - everything from Adam's paralysis and his moods to Joe's inability to commit. I don't always like these characters, and I suspect Hart doesn't want me to. To unconditionally like them is to welcome complacency. You want to understand them, flaws and all, and it makes this story that much more gut-wrenching.

I love how Hart can give the reader hope, rip their heart out, and give them hope again. This story is sad. Very sad. It ends on a hopeful note, but there is a price to be paid - as in real life. Actions, consequences, bad things happening to good people. Sunshine Happy Rainbows this isn't - but riveting it is.

What I also found really fantastic was how Hart connects Broken to her earlier release Dirty. Elle (the heroine from Dirty), shows up in this story but the author weaves it so seamlessly that readers of the first book will love the return appearance and new readers won't realize that they're supposed to already know this character.

I loved Dirty, and I equally loved Broken. And much like Dirty, I have no idea who to recommend this novel to. It certainly is erotic, but Hart's brand of eroticism isn't meant to titillate. It's meant to get you thinking. It's meant to make you understand the characters. Ultimately it's meant to get you emotionally invested in their fictional lives to the point where reality begins to blur. This is one talented author. I hope, pray she is finding a wide readership and Harlequin has the brains to sign her to a huge, fat contract. Simply wonderful.

Final Grade = A

15 comments:

Mailyn said...

OMG you are just reading Dreaming of You?! I'm sure Kristie had a coronary. LOL.

Loved your take on the RWA meeting. I agree that authors shouldn't be stressed out over who's there. I think they forget it's thanks to readers that buy their books that they make the big bucks. What's a writer without fans/readers? Not published, that's for sure. People need to ligthen up!

Wendy said...

Mailyn: It is honestly shameful how many "great" books I have in my TBR. Kristie spent all last week nagging me to death :)

And I'm going to admit something here and now which I'm sure she'll want to strangle me for - I haven't started DOY yet. I know, I know - I've been carrying it around for two days! Today I start it - promise!

Tara Marie said...

I've been waiting for your review before buying, but I had a really good feeling about it.

Wendy said...

TM:
If you liked Dirty (which I know you did), you should like Broken. I think I like Dirty a tinch better - but that's probably because I hadn't read Hart before and there was an element of surprise.

Karen Scott said...

Oh Wendy, I read and absolutely LOVED Dirty, I have this to read at some point this weekend. I'm glad Elle appears in Dirty, she has to be one of the most complex heroines I've come across in a while.

Kerry said...

For someone who has both books--isn't Joe also in Dirty? He's at the table at the reunion. Or maybe I am imagining it.

I like Dirty more because I really liked Elle's journey, and although some complain he's opaque, I felt I also knew a lot about Dan through his reactions to her general weirdness. I wanted to slap more people in Broken, but I agree that Hart is an awesome writer.

Wendy said...

Karen: Why didn't I immediately think of you? I never know with romance readers - there are some things they seem willing to accept in their books, and other ideas that completely turn them cold. Hart's writing/plots/characters strike me was either "love her" or "hate her" with very little middle ground.

Kerry: You know I only had the urge to occasionally slap the men in this book LOL And you could very well be right about Joe appearing in Dirty. One of his conquests, Sarah, lives in Mrs. Pease's house - who was Elle's elderly neighbor in Dirty. It's a really clever way to connect the books without really making it a series.

And neither here nor there - I hope we haven't seen the last of Sarah. I adored her.

ReneeW said...

I sat on the fence quite awhile before deciding to get this one. It's sitting on my nightstand now ready for me to dig in but I was still hesitating a little. Your review makes me want to pick it up and start reading. Thanks.

Rosie said...

You know I loved this book. I can't wait for her next book and I have no clue what it is or when, but she's sure won me over with these two Spice books. Such a great voice and so multi-faceted too.

More to talk about on Saturday. Heck Megan Hart could be a convo all by herself.

AuthorM said...

Thank you, Wendy, for the review. I'm glad you liked Broken.

Joe is not in Dirty. At least, I don't think he is. Though he could be, because I know he works with Dan. But I don't think he's in Dirty. At least not on purpose!

Tempted comes out in January and Elle is not in it. Dan is not in it. But someone from Broken IS in it, and I'll be interested to see if anyone notices who! :)

Elle and Dan and Jack and Joe and Sadie and Sarah all appear in future books. Sarah must have her own book because I love the Sarah. I haven't written it yet, though.

And that is plenty from me about myself. Thank you very much.

If my ears start to burn on Saturday I'll know who to blame!!

But thanks to all for the comments!

M

Gail K. said...

SuperLibrarian,

I was led to DIRTY by your initial review and *loved* it to pieces as well. Since then I've been trying to drum up readership for Megan Hart over on AAR, with some limited success. :)

http://aarboards.com/viewtopic.php?t=799

I was curious how you would like BROKEN and frankly was not suprised a bit that you "liked" it, LOL. Myself, I couldn't wait that long after reading DIRTY and pretty much literally ran out to buy it and devour it within the week after the first book.

Ms. Hart, if you're reading this, I've been totally blown away by your writing. I can't wait to get my hands on TEMPTED! The only way to make a fangirl out of me is to write well, and write innovatively (if there is such a word), and then you've got my loyalty for life, whether you want it or not! Bravo.

-Gail

Wendy said...

Megan:
Thanks so much for swinging by the blog. I loved Dirty, I loved Broken, cannot wait for Tempted. I'm going to run out and get it on the laydown date LOL

Gail:
I noticed the conversation when I suddenly saw AAR on my stat tracker LOL I'm so glad you enjoyed the books as much as I did. Nothing better than tossing a book recommendation out there and having people agree with you.

AuthorM said...

Thank you Gail, very much. I appreciate the kind words and the support over at AAR. I must confess I don't read the boards there regularly -- like Wendy, I usually find out someone's talking about me when I start getting hits on my website. :)

I'm just so happy that Dirty and Broken are giving people something to talk about. Like, dislike (I don't think you need to loooooove every part of a book or characters to really like the book)...whatever. I'm glad people are finding the books worthy of discussion beyond "yeah, the sex was hot and I liked it." or "I hated it, there was too much sex and the heroine was stupid."

I'm glad people are talking about the books because that means I did something right!

Tempted is actually my personal favorite of the three so far, so I'm wondering how it will be received. I can only hope it lives up to Dirty and Broken, I guess!

I don't always manage to come back to blogs and I don't usually hunt around (though if someone points me somewhere I'll generally check out the discussion) but I'm always found at my own blog, www.meganhart.com/wordpress and answer all my comments, and I can always be reached by email at authorm AT megan hart DOT com...so if you have questions or comments, I'm more than happy to get them.

I sometimes feel uncomfortable commenting on discussions because while I appreciate them all and the varied comments, I'm afraid suddenly showing up might dampen the enthusiasm or something.

But thanks, thanks and thank you all! I appreciate your words!

M

Gail K. said...

You're very welcome, Ms. Hart. I find I have to be very proactive these days (including shoving good books in other readers' faces, both online and IRL), if I want what I perceive as good writing to survive in this industry. I agree with you about authors being wise to not post in discussions. I think the "creator" should stay out of it. It would be kinda like God coming down and saying, hey, Adam & Even, so you like my landscaping, eh? (apologies in advance for any offended religious people). I'm looking forward to TEMPTED and to collecting the trio of books/covers because I'm acquisitive and OCD like that :)

-Gail

p.s. Due to your books, Ms. Hart, I am more favorably inclined to the whole Harlequin Spice line.

Rosie said...

Wow now I can gush directly to Megan Hart on her blog.