Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Review- Tonight, My Love by Tracie Sommers

Yay, we have our first guest reviewer! Jill Sorenson, author of the well received and Cosmopolitan Magazine recommended Hot Read!, Crash Into Me, a delicious romantic suspense story.

We thank her so much for taking her time and offering this review to post here.

Tonight, My Love

May 1, 2009

Historical/ Menage/ f/f/m


Buy it Harlequin

"Tonight, my love, the choice is yours," Andrew Campbell tells Isabelle as they ride through the streets of Whitechapel to select a prostitute to join them in bed. Her choice: Franny, a pretty young girl hesitant to go with the genteel couple with Jack the Ripper on the loose.

Yet the lure of money and food is too strong for Franny. Before long, she is in their bed...with Andrew and Isabelle fulfilling their promise to take Franny to the height of sexual ecstasy.

But once their pleasure is complete, Andrew and Isabelle have another surprise in store for her....

Jill Sorenson's review—

I’ve never read any f/f/m erotica, unless you count the stories they publish in men’s magazines. I was looking for a full-length f/f novel, but I came across this cover on Twitter and it caught my interest. Five minutes later, I was reading it on my computer. Thirty minutes after that, I was done. I’m a fast reader.

This is a short story, and definitely erotica, rather than erotic romance. There is no character development or plot. A married couple picks up a sweet young prostitute on the filthy streets of Whitechapel. They take her home, where she’s given a meal, a bath, and a thorough debauching in their bed.

The story is all sex. Most of the action is girl-on-girl with the husband watching, but he eventually participates. Many possibilities are exhausted and orifices are filled. Because it isn’t a romance, I can’t complain about the lack of emotional depth, but I can say that I found the scenes a bit rushed. A little build-up would have been nice. More kissing and sensual touching would have gone a long way. Even so, I enjoyed the physical descriptions of both women and thought the sex was hot. Their interactions are consensual, the writing is smooth, and all three participants have a fine time.

Something really weird and unnecessary happens at the end, but I won’t spoil it.

That’s about it! I don’t understand the grading system here, or what constitutes “vanilla” sex. I’ll give this story a kind B- and call it explicit.


MB (Leah) said...

This seems like a story I'd definitely read even with the premise of two women going at it with the guy watching.

Sometimes it's fun just read a good erotica story without too much emotional depth although I rather prefer some emotional connection.

And yeah, a kiss or two doesn't hurt to add a little more feeling to a general erotica story. It's one thing I really enjoy in reading f/f, that there's usually a lot more kissing and cuddling in a f/f then m/f stories. Makes it more intimate to me.

But I'll probably get this book if I can get it on DH's PDA.

kirsten saell said...

Oh yeah. I'm going right now to check if this is at Sony. Holy bejabbers I've bought a lot of books from them this week!

One thing that really appeals to me is when a story is all about gratifying the wife's bisexuality or bi-curiosity as much as (or more than) it is about titillating the man, and if that's the case with this one, it's gonna make me one happy chick.

When I got the idea for Bound by Steel (m/f+f), the entire premise was based on fulfilling the wife's bisexuality--the husband actually had to be talked into it, and he had plenty of misgivings. Much better (and more reflective of what I would assume real life f/f/m menages would be like) than that porny "two hot chicks seein' to mah manly needs", straight guy fantasy. That fantasy might work in a one time thing, but I can't imagine it could be sustained for any length of time.

Thanks for doing a guest review, Jill! :)

Cathy in AK said...

I don't normally read erotica, so this one may not be for me, but I can appreciate the fact they are a happy threesome, if only for a short while : )

I was surprised to see this is a Harlequin. Didn't know they were open to f/f/m even in their Spice releases.

MB (Leah) said...

Cathy, I was surprised this one was a Harlequin as well.

I guess I'm surprised when I see any f/f or f/f/m from a mainstream, non GLBT specific, publisher.

But whoohoo, right? Yay for us.

Jill Sorenson said...


I actually like the premise of two women with guy watching. But I probably bought this because of the pretty cover.


This one definitely isn't "all about him." I can't say if the wife is bisexual or what (not much characterization here) but both ladies are very into it.

It reads much differently than men's mag stuff, IMO.

Jill Sorenson said...

Sorry, I meant *kirsten* not Kristen. Oops. Bet you get that a lot. : )

MB (Leah) said...

Hmm... Jill, yes, I too like the idea of the guy watching. But I meant that in the pr0n sense of how it usually goes with a man involved.

The main difference for me I guess, is if the women are into it and not just doing it solely for the guy. Then it can be really hot with the guy watching.

In this book, from you say, the women are really into it, so that's way better for me.

kirsten saell said...

I get a real kick out of voyeurism, too (in fiction if not IRL, because, you know, flab and stretch marks and all that), and it can be super hot when the guy watches, and then joins in.

And I've read (and watched) enough of the "lesbo porn" aimed at men to be very aware of where the difference in sensibilities lies between what is going to feel hot, as opposed to just dirty (not that I don't mind me some filth once in a while, but I have to be in the right mood, heh).

I support m/m erotica and romance because I feel very strongly that women should be allowed to have erotic material produced that reflects their version of the fantasy, and I don't think that fantasy has to reflect reality any more than most lesbo porn reflects the reality of lesbians and bi-women.

But I think a lot of women are reluctant to try f/f or f/f/m because they assume they're going to get the straight man's fantasy--simply because that version of the fantasy is shoved in their faces all the time in the media. And even if they're card-carrying bisexuals, that male-centric fantasy probably isn't going to do it for them, or, worse, will actively turn them off.

There are so many bi and bi-curious women out there who feel cheated, because there's so little material out there that caters to them. So I think the more books like this that are out there, the better.

*off to purchase right now!*

Little CJ said...

I have never read an F/F or M/F/F but this sounds like a great place to start. And I, too, love that cover. Great review.

Jill Sorenson said...

Thanks for having me here, ladies! I look forward to reading some more f/f, and this is an awesome site, so I might drop by again in the future.

P.S. Tracie contacted me to thank me for the review, which is very sweet of her. : )

MB (Leah) said...

Jill- thanks for the review and introducing a new book! Come back anytime. :D

Tracie said...

I'd like to thank Jill for the great review. This was my first erotic short and it is fabulous to get feedback on what did and didn't work for a reader.

M. A. said...

But I think a lot of women are reluctant to try f/f or f/f/m because they assume they're going to get the straight man's fantasy--simply because that version of the fantasy is shoved in their faces all the time in the media. And even if they're card-carrying bisexuals, that male-centric fantasy probably isn't going to do it for them, or, worse, will actively turn them off.

Kirsten, hi. Your theory is very plausible to my mind. When I decided to try my hand at writing menage, I did a little reading on the issue and discovered that most RL menages tend to be m/f/f. More often than not the "alpha female" is bisexual and the male (usually her husband or boyfriend) has more limited participation. After reading the dynamics regarding what makes these relationships "tick" it was pretty easy for me to imagine it and to write it. To this day it is easier for me imagine and write f/f or f/f/m fiction than m/m or m/m/f.

I can see how women could find the f/m/f menage fantasy repugnant since it focuses more on the objectification of women for a man's enjoyment, but the outright rejection of f/f and f/f/m leaves me puzzled.

M. A. said...

"Something really weird and unnecessary happens at the end, but I won’t spoil it...


It's my day off and I just purchased "Tonight, My Love" and read it. My reactions are kind of mixed.

The writing quality is good. I am always impressed by writers who can write shorter pieces. My short stories are inevitably novellas and my novellas are inevitably novels. For its length and word count, "Tonight, My Love" is a good well-rounded story. The prose is clever, providing subtle clues to the couple's identity and their ultimate intent. There's a interesting introduction, a middle, and a conclusion.

The erotica is also well-written. The chemistry between Andrew and Isabelle crackles. Franny's interest in the couple is less satisfying, relying more upon her profession and desperation than any other element. No relationship is built beyond the most casual type with the underlying message "I give you this, you'll do for me...and do more for me than you thought you would."

I felt sort of a see-saw effect with characterization. A lot of effort went into Franny's characterization. We learned at least a little of her background and her motivations. How she speaks, dresses, and so on. In contrast we learn nothing about Isabelle and Andrew. Given the couple's last name and Andrew's clothing, I think there should have been more hints in the couple's behavior/language of their own ethnicity. Obviously the author wanted to keep some aspects of their identities secret but it would have been fun if they were fleshed out a little more.

There were also some historical discrepancies that got in the way of my enjoyment. For the record, historicals are my favorite genre and I'm a stickler for accuracy. The story's connection to a prominent real-life historical event -- the Whitechapel murders - places its timeframe as 1888-1891. Huge "deep soak" bathtubs were in use at the time and it makes sense for Andrew and Isabelle to have had one (and definitely more convenient for their "clean up" activities.) The small "hip bath" had me sort of scratching my head.

While it made sense for Franny to be uncorseted -- prostitutes normally eschewed corsets because it takes time to put them on and take them off -- the tone in the book implied that drawers were something "new" and they were not. Drawers had been in use since at least 1830 and they were also split crotch so their presence would not have impeded Andrew's more amorous attentions to Isabelle.

As a history lover, I found these discrepancies jarring. The first few pages I figured it was the early 19th century while later on it became evident it was much later.

I was disappointed with the finale because, for me, it detracted from the fantasy/escapism element I look for when I read erotica. The couple's identity reinforces the social mores prevalent for the period -- that of the upper class being "higher on the food chain" and able to exploit more "common folk" at their whim. Franny's ultimate purpose for the Campbells reeks of harsh reality despite the creative plot twist.

Overall this is a good short story and would do best marketed as erotic horror.

MB (Leah) said...

MA- I haven't read the book yet so I can't comment unfortunately to your take on it. But all of it is very interesting.

The historical issues would have bothered me as well. Although I haven't read many historicals and am not well versed in the little details, so I would have glossed right over them.

It's interesting to get several takes on a book.

I'd still give it a try but since Harlequin likes to DRM their PDF and I hate reading on my computer, it might be a while.

Jill Sorenson said...

I'm not sure I agree about the historical inaccuracies. If the author had made a reference to a type of bath or undergarment that hadn't been invented yet, it would be a mistake. Just because a certain technology is widely available doesn't mean everyone used it. I don't own a cell phone, for example. : )

MB (Leah) said...

Jill-- you don't own a cell phone? I'm impressed!

And I agree with you about discrepancies in cultural norms during certain time periods. I can imagine some comtemps, and have heard of some, in which VCR's, and other 70's-80's technology is still mentioned, although not commonly used as much these days.

As an example.

M. A. said...

Jill, you make great points regarding the technology issues in historical accuracy. The use of the archaic bathtub has a sound purpose in the story (I'd be spoiling it if I said much more than that.)

From my perspective, however, it seemed weird. The Campbells are portrayed as being a well-heeled couple living in Victorian/Edwardian England. Luxury living and excess are de rigeur amongst the "better half" of society. To me it made sense for them to have the most modern conveniences and appliances. *shrugs* And perhaps they DID actually have a modern up-to-date bathroom but used what they used for reasons related to the plot.

LOL about the cel phone. I've written a manuscript where a secondary character (a vampire) forbids the use of cel phones in his restaurant and does not own them himself. He refers to them as "modern inconveniences" and spouts platitudes of anti-cel kind such as, "Man spends the whole day workin', he can't spend an hour eatin' with his wife 'stead of talkin' on the phone?"

kirsten saell said...

He refers to them as "modern inconveniences" and spouts platitudes of anti-cel kind such as, "Man spends the whole day workin', he can't spend an hour eatin' with his wife 'stead of talkin' on the phone?"

LOL. Count me in with the other anti-cell-phone luddites. I just don't like the idea of being available all the time. I want to be able to say I missed someone's call without having to admit it's because I turned the phone off.

I know too many people who are slaves to their phones and treat calls with more respect than the actual, you know, real live people they're with.

Anonymous said...

I just read this book. Warning to whomever reads it that is has a disturbing ending.
The ending kind of ruined it for me!

Anonymous said...

Another Spice short story along similar f/f/m lines is actually Eva Cassel's The Gift. The setting is contemporary and the sex scenes are VERY sensual without being Hustleresque.

I can just guess what happens at the end of Tonight My Love if Jack the Ripper is an element of the story. Yikes!