Saturday, February 28, 2009

Review- Exposure by Lisabet Sarai

by Lisabet Sarai
Feb 2009
Contemporary/ Suspense/ Erotica
Novel- $6.00

Buy it Phaze

Stella is just minding her own business and having a bit of fun, working as an exotic dancer at the Peacock Lounge. Through no fault of her own, she witnesses a double murder and gets pulled into a shady dance of deceit with political bigwigs, mob bosses, dirty cops and scheming widows. Now she’s everyone’s target; her only chance is to sift through the lies and expose the truth.

Every once in a while a book comes along that messes with my usual trope/character trait likes and dislikes and I find that things I’ve said in a review or commented on about what I hate is not always true. I love it when an author can take those things that usually push all my buttons and make me actually enjoy them. Lisabet Sarai has done that to me with Exposure. This was such a fun, fun book, totally making me enjoy my pet peeves for a change.

Stella is a stripper. She loves what she does for real; she gets off on it. But she keeps it strictly on the dance floor and never goes with costumers or lets them touch her. She has principles and she’s in total control. Part of keeping that control is tuning into the men watching her and picking up what their personalities are like, what turns them on and manipulating them. She’s very good at what she does.

One night a man comes in who stares right back at her but she can’t read him and it pisses her off. He makes a proposition, which she goes along with out of curiosity and she end ups witnessing the murder of a very well known man, Anthony, who is running for mayor. Of course she runs. The next thing she knows, she’s being propositioned by the mayoral candidate’s wife, Francesca, who wants Stella to be her publicist because she wants to continue and run in her husband’s place. While Stella is distrustful and is wondering what the hell is going on, she goes along with it to find out who killed Anthony.

While all this is happening, she’s also being threatened on a constant basis with break-ins to her home, getting beat up on the street, being followed and she finds that she can’t trust anyone, even her cop friend whom she went to school with, is attracted to and confided in about witnessing the murder.

Stella is one of those female characters that I totally love. She’s very strong, independent and doesn’t take any crap. She’s curious and courageous but acts humanly stupid at times. And typical in erotica, she’s got the hots for everyone she comes in contact with, man or woman. She gets off on stripping, making no bones about the fact that it’s her choice and not because of the usual excuses women give like putting themselves through college to make what’s considered an unrespectable trade sound more respectable. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks. I get off on a female character who is very comfortable in her own skin and sexuality and who does things that go against the grain.

Where this story would have had me going “Oh, please, you can not be serious” and peeving me, is in the plot, but shockingly, it doesn’t. Most of what happens in the plot is fairly improbable for a contemporary and yet, I was so thoroughly enthralled that I just couldn’t get enough of it.

First pet peeve, a character acts against their own personality traits. Stella is hired to do a private dance for the mayoral candidate. She has repeated over and over that she doesn’t sleep with just anyone, especially a costumer, that she’s in total control, and yet right after the dance she gets it on with this guy. Next, she witnesses the murder and flees. She doesn’t try to hide herself or anything, just walks out the front entrance where anyone can see her, goes home, and decides to contact a friend in the police dept. the next day. This all goes against the fact that she’s portrayed as very intelligent, savvy, and in control. And yet, I enjoyed her so much that I could care less.

Pet Peeve #2 (contemporaries only), unrealistic reactions by characters or what wouldn’t really happen IRL. Her cop friend takes her story rather lightly and promises to keep her out of things and not share this with anyone else. WTH? That would never happen, ever. She would have been an automatic suspect for leaving the scene of the crime and taken into custody. Also, this is a high profile murder. Every cop would be on this, so her friend keeping that info to himself is ridiculous. And it would have been in the papers straight away. But Ok, Lisabet Sarai has me so hooked into this story and characters that I’m willing suspend disbelief and go for the ride.

Pet Peeve #3, ridiculous plots. Next, she’s propositioned by Francesca, the widow, who knows that Stella was with her husband and slept with him. She wants Stella to be her campaign spokesperson convincing her that the public would relate to her as a real person, a working girl who understands the pulse of the every day person. Then she shoves her hand down Stella’s blouse and they get it on. Again, WTH?

Really, a mayoral candidate would never choose a stripper as a campaign manager. Just wouldn’t happen. Second, a single girl with no kids who loves stripping because she just gets off on it would not be someone that the average working class citizen could relate to even though she did come from a “humble” background. JMHO. And of course, she’s so quippy with comebacks that she totally charms the press who just love her and think it’s cute that she’s a stripper. Again, not believable. And yet, I’m totally loving the writing and this story so much that all of these unbelievable situations that would normally piss me off hardly even register to me. Keep it coming!

It goes on and on with Stella getting mixed up with people trying to find out who killed the mayoral candidate and who is threatening her as well. I loved how Stella’s mind worked in this story as she works out the clues and tries to figure out who she can trust and who committed the murder. All of the characters in this story are suspect and while Stella trips through all these weird experiences, she’s also having sex, or being turned on by half of them no matter what gender they are or their age. It was just so entertaining.

One pet peeve that did happen in this book, but which I couldn’t gloss over due to the trippy non conventional entertainment value was that the relationship between Francesca and Stella was portrayed as the manipulative dysfunctional one compared to the very sweet relationship with the cop. Francesca is a person who really wants Stella but she’s not always an upstanding person, which irks Stella even though she’s attracted and wants her. But for me the way it panned out it was a subtle diss and perpetuation of the f/f story line being less desirable over the m/f story line.

For the most part though, this book was a light, juicy suspense with quite a variety of sexual situations and a fast flowing creatively written suspense plot. Mixed with an array of dodgy and or quirky characters, Exposure was a delicious read.

Sex rating: Orgasmic. m/f, f/f, rose usage (don’t ask), dildo use, public sex, elaborate masturbation and dream sex scenes, light anal and light BDSM.

Grade: B+


kirsten saell said...

I might have to get this one. I like a bit of an outlandish plot--that's why I like reading fantasy. People get to be so much more dramatic and intense because the situations are more extreme. And I like a book that can make me ignore the things that usually annoy the everloving crap out of me.

It's a bummer, though, that I can't get it for my Sony...

MB (Leah) said...

Why can't it work on a Sony? I thought Phaze puts their books out in several formats.

I thought this book was fun and the f/f sex was really hot in it. I just wished it was a better outcome between the women. But it was fairly realistic with in the realm of how unrealistic of this book was. :D

kirsten saell said...

Well, Sony can accept ePub and SONYpdf, neither of which I think Phaze uses, although I guess you could check for me if they gave you all of them in a zip file. In a pinch, I can use regular pdf, but the text is teeny tiny, and when you enlarge it the formatting goes all wonky...

MB (Leah) said...

You can download it in pdf.

Options are

prc- don't know what that is
rb- "

pdf is kind of wonky on my eBookwise as well, putting in question marks for all punctuation marks. And it breaks up sentences in weird ways sometimes, but for a book here and there it's ok for me.

Lisabet Sarai said...


I just happened upon this review while googling for something else. Thanks very much for reviewing the book and for positive comments. Thanks also for your criticisms! You're quite right about the implausibility of some of the events in the story--although in fact one of my intentions was to show that the reality of Stella's personality doesn't necessarily match her view of herself. After all, she gets sexually involved with Francesca immediately, too. She's very hot-blooded but prefers to think of herself as always careful and rational.

I certainly didn't mean to imply that the F/F relationship was any less valuable or serious! Plus I wanted to leave the possibility open that they might get together.

If you want to read a pure F/F title of mine, get a copy of "Velvet" from Eternal Press (just a short story). Or you might enjoy the loving BDSM F/F subplot in my novel Ruby's Rules (also from Eternal Press).

Once again, thank you for your review. I do hope that you'll see this comment given that your post is from last year.


LVLM said...

Hello Lisbet- thanks for the recommends on your other f/f. I think when I read this book, I checked and you only had some minor f/f mixed with general erotica? Don't remember. But I will check out your books.

In general, I'm a bit iffy on the BDSM. Some people rock my socks with it, but if it hits me the wrong way, it's really bad. So I tread lightly with the BDSM. Lately though I've had a good streak, so I might be open it.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello (sorry, I can't figure out who posts as LVLM...;^)

I haven't written as much F/F as I'd like, at least partly because it's really hard to sell to romance publishers.

I do have an F/F story coming out in the upcoming collection SMOOTH (edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel) and a story in the (truly wonderful) anthology WHERE THE THE GIRLS ARE: URBAN LESBIAN EROTICA, edited by D.L.King. You can read excerpts from both on my website.



LVLM said...

Lisabet- heh, LVLM is me Leah, (madame butterfly on reviews). I used to go under MB Leah but had to change it due to certain privacy issues.

And we here at LVLM know all about how hard it is to get f/f published, which is why Kirsten and I started this blog. To give a place for f/f, which are hard to find. So I get that you and others are reluctant to publish it. Although more and more authors are putting out some f/f. We can only hope, right? :)