GUEST BOOK REVIEW - Sofia Mercer reviews "Restraint"
Written by Sofia Mercer
Dear Readers, Our little community is a very diverse group and includes men and women who enjoy a bit of steamy M/F romance as well. To that end, I invited my friend and sometime hag, Sofia Mercer, to contribute an occasional book review to introduce is to some of her current reading list. In her first installment, she reviews Restraint by Charlotte Stein! If this floats your boat, check it out! I must say I do appreciate the twunk on the cover!
In Restraint, a novella by Charlotte Stein, a young woman, Mallory, goes on vacation with her 2 best friends and a man she is sure hates her. Artie constantly belittles Mallory with his comments and his judgmental stares until, finally, one of his insults pushes her too far. When he restrains her so he can apologize, she discovers that he doesn't hate her at all: Due to the way he was raised, Artie is ashamed of how his body responds to her dirty talking. This discovery leads Mallory to push Artie out of his comfort zone. The plot isn't new: Artie is the beautiful, damaged man healed through his desire for Mallory.
Charlotte Stein knows her audience, women who probably read her books on a Kindle, where they're easily accessible and anonymous. No one needs to know that she is reading erotica or pornography, which society has portrayed as dirty or taboo. Ironically, Ms. Stein plays on this convention, mirroring it in Artie’s own attempts to hide the fact that dirty talk and dirty sex really turn him on.
Artie’s character is written as a nicely balanced blend of sexy and vulnerable, with a hint of dominance. The blend is too perfect to be realistic, but it works in this erotic romance. He is a common fantasy come to life. Mallory’s sense of mischief and her discovery of her sexual power are easy to buy into and will elicit feeling of familiarity in many female readers.
What Charlotte Stein does best in Restraint is tension. By frequently and seamlessly alternating between dialogue, the physical actions and Mallory’s thoughts, Ms. Stein had me spellbound. She describes every movement and every reaction so vividly and seductively, I was awaiting Artie’s reactions and longing for his touch as much as Mallory. Mallory’s dialogue and her thought process is consistent with that of a young woman.
In the matter of only a couple sentences she is able to make her reader respond physically to the scene. Artie’s secret, taboo desires reflect our own, and we feel Mallory’s power taking hold over him. I find myself cheering her on and revel in even her smallest victories. Her sex scenes are beautifully detailed and phrases that can be found in scores of erotica, or pornographic novels, phrases that have been done to death, are brought back to life. The ending, though not unpredictable, is well-timed and sweetly delivered.
The language used is explicit but more naughty than raunchy. There is mild exhibitionism, oral, and extremely mild dominance. Restraint is a seduction, between the characters, and between author and reader.
-- A Review by