Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Review- Open Proposal by Rosemary Gunn

Open Proposal
by Rosemary Gunn
Contemporary/ ménage/ f/f/m- bi-lesbian
15-25K words- $4.25

Buy it Liquid Silver Books

Samantha and Eve have it all: a beautiful home, successful careers, and a loving relationship. When the use of a sex toy brings Sam's latent desires to the forefront, the women decide to find someone who can give Sam the one thing that Eve cannot.

Roman--Eve’s best friend from childhood--is surprised by their unusual request, but agrees to play anyway. Eve has always been able to count on Roman to be there when she needed him.

What she hadn’t counted on were her own feelings regarding him. Will an open proposal mark the end of a friendship or the beginning of something more than any of them could have anticipated?

Ménage à Review--This is the one where Leah and Kirsten engage in some spectacular three-way review action. Who's the third? Why, the book, of course! And hot holy damn, is this gonna be a lovefest. We are ALL OVER that thing.

Leah: I never know what I’m going to get when I buy an f/f book. Since f/f and f/f/m ménage stories are not that common, I tend to almost blindly buy a book just hoping against all hope that it’s going to be decent. I don’t even dare to hope that it will rock my socks off.

Kirsten: I picked up this book after Leah emailed me to tell me she was halfway through it and DAMN. And...yeah. *ahem*

Samantha and Eve have been long time friends and lovers. While Eve has never been with a man and doesn’t really get the attraction, Samantha was once married, deeply in love with her man. After he died, lost and grieving, her old friend Eve helped her through it and she found herself falling in love with Eve romantically and sexually even though she'd never been with a woman.

They are so in love and feel very satisfied with their sex life together, but Sam has a hankering for what a man can give her physically. Not feeling threatened at all by that, Eve calls her BFF guy friend, Roman, whom she grew up with and proposes a threesome to give Sam the gift of um… real manly bits.

Roman, who’s been so in love with and ached for Eve since they were teenagers, can’t believe his luck and readily agrees. When he meets Sam for the first time, he’s in awe of how gorgeous she is, but his heart is still with Eve and he wants to make this experience memorable for her.

L: Open Proposal is such a juicy and satisfying menage story that restores my faith that a good f/f/m menage can be written more often than the rare comet that comes along. Not to mention it's a complete and nicely written story for a short one.

Totally, totally, totally. This is the author's debut book (at least her first published erotic romance) and it does show, but despite that, I have to say I'm impressed.

Wow, it’s her debut book? All I can say is yowza! Besides the steamy loving, Rosemary Gunn did an excellent job of showing how much all three of these characters love and respect each other. Particularly how Roman comes in and is more in awe and amazement at what’s happening than drooling over the fact that he’s got two hot chicks. His ache for Eve is palpable and he’s just as happy on an emotional level as sexual.

K: She had a real knack for building the heat while also just making you ache for the characters, especially Roman. I have a real thing for unrequited love. This dude's been carrying a torch for Eve forfreakingever, and you can soooo feel that. You do get such a sense of how...privileged (as well as conflicted) he feels to be included in this, with none of that straight guy voyeuristic entitlement that drives me bugfuck. I mean, there is a lot of voyeurism in this story (by all three characters), but it never feels skeezy. I never once felt that kind of nasty, bow-chicka-wow-wow thrill I get from watching m/f/f porn (yeah, I watch porn, wanna make something of it?).

L: Oh yeah totally. What I got off on was the fact that at no point during the threesome, do any two not include the third party. There was a nice sense of cohesiveness in all three that they were all there for each other. Even though this was set up for Sam's pleasure by Eve, never did Sam go off on Roman without Eve being a part of it. Nor did Roman ever exclude Sam because of his love for Eve.

I thought that even though Eve had never been with a man, she loves both Sam and Roman so much that she's willing to try and be with Roman, and does so in a very innocent and sweet way. I felt she didn't go against who she is, a lesbian basically, to be with Roman. It felt so natural because of Roman's love and Sam’s being there.

K: That part did make me wonder a bit whether lesbians would enjoy this story. I mean, I'm guessing there are plenty of people telling lesbians that they "just need the right guy with the right dick" and they'd go back to boyville where they belong. I think if a reader had encountered that a lot, this book might rub them the wrong way, even though the author did a good job of making me see how happy these two women are together.

In this book, with Sam, it's more like remembering how good sausage tastes even though you're happy with an all-vagitarian diet, heh. And I think the author did a great job with establishing the enormous intimacy that already existed between Eve and Roman, a kind of pervasive sexual tension that had always been there, and that defied her self-identification as 100% lesbian. And you know, I'm all for sexual fluidity--whether that comes in the form of "lesbian for her" or "straight for him".

L: Yeah, I thought about that, how Eve’s been a lesbian all along and how unlikely that scenario might be. However, Rosemary Gunn walked a fine line there and I could really see how Eve could get turned on and be willing to try to be with Roman only because she has a deep love and trust for Roman already. And at no point was there ever a feeling of coercion from either Sam or Roman for her to try. It all happened organically.

K: The author sets the stage with an intimate scene between Eve and Sam, shortly before they're to go meet Roman at a dance club. While the sex itself was damn hot, it was a little bogged down for me in backstory and inner narrative that I thought could either be pared down or expressed in other, more interesting ways. But the moment these three meet up at the club, the author kind of hits her stride. I read the rest of the story with a tight, achy feeling in my belly, and even came close to tears a couple of times (yeah, I'm a crier, wanna make something of it?). But really, there was like the perfect mix of lust and emotion here.

L: Heh, I thought the office scene with Eve and Sam was smokin hawt, establishing that they are very tight with each other. But yeah, there was a bit too much inner dialogue with Sam explaining her back story to the reader. And the story did get a bit draggy when they were in the bar. But like you, I also thought it got going really after Roman enters the picture and they go home.

K: I think telling the reader too much is kind of a typical new author thing. I noticed a bit of that, as well, in the threesome scenes--but I don't think it would have registered if I hadn't been on the lookout for it because of the info-dump in the opening. I also found some pronoun confusion and a few...mechanical difficulties as far as knowing who's doing what to whom at times. But having written my share of same-sex and ménage scenes, I know how hard it is to keep it all straight! I had to reread the odd paragraph, but it didn't interfere with my enjoyment of those scenes.

The emotional intensity stayed ramped up enough to carry me past any wonkiness. And yeah, the payoff was great. I just really wanted these three people to be together. I liked them all individually, and loved the way they played off one another. I don't need every sex scene in a ménage romance to include all three characters, but I think in this case it was the perfect choice--and very well executed.

L: I agree that the mechanics did get a bit confusing here and there. But totally, the emotional energy between these three characters was what grabbed me so I didn’t get too caught up in the technical issues that normally might have stuck out like a sore thumb in an otherwise crappy book.

Personally, I’m going to be on the look-out for more from Rosemary Gunn. This was a lucky find. Let’s hope she doesn’t go the way of so many authors who write that first f/f, f/f/m but then switch to the dark side (heh).

Yeah, I really hope Ms. Gunn at least keeps writing the odd f/f/m, because damn, she nailed it. And I can only imagine future efforts by her getting better and better as she evolves as a writer.

Sex rating: Orgasmic- Whoa! Yummilicious f/f, f/f/m vanilla.

Grade: B+


JenB said...

Soooooo...did y'all like it? That's what I wanna know. ;)

I think I might have to break my e-book moratorium for this one. Looks excellent!

LVLM(Leah) said...

Soooooo...did y'all like it? That's what I wanna know. ;)

Umm... maybe. LOL

What moratorium? Why? Damn, I haven't been on twitter for like years and don't know what's going on any more. Am studying all day. :(

kirsten saell said...

It was passable. LOL

But seriously, there were some technical issues, but I think f/f/m books that nail the dynamics and emotions so beautifully are simply so few and far between that I just didn't care about those issues.

If this were an m/f or an m/m, I might have considered putting it down before it really got good. And then when it did get good--POW!

One thing that bothers me, though--I had to read it on my laptop because Liquid Silver doesn't release books in sony-compatible formats. LSB says on their site that they're listed at FW (where I might find sony or epub), but perhaps this one hadn't been out long enough to be available there yet.

I think I would have enjoyed this book even more had I been able to read it on my beloved sony. Not just for the e-ink, but for the ability to read one-handed. *ahem*

Cathy in AK said...

Hmm, I may have to break my moratorium on contemporaries for this one. Though I'm not keen on reading on my laptop either. Not for the reason Kirsten has : )

Love the Menage a Review format!

LVLM(Leah) said...

Hmm, I may have to break my moratorium on contemporaries for this one

What is with all the moratoriums? LOL

I have one. I now have a moratorium on reading crappy f/f, f/f/m books since I know authors are capable of writing good ones!

LVLM(Leah) said...

I had to read it on my laptop because Liquid Silver doesn't release books in sony-compatible formats.

I guess I never got around to my epub bitch post. But LSB is at the top of my list for crappiest web site in finding anything. And now you say, their books are not even available in a very commonly desired format?

If I would have had to read this book on my computer, I would never have read it. Period.

I found this book by sheer luck and determination. Normally I'd never put that much effort into finding a book.

Why do they shoot themselves in the foot?

I have written to LSB and complained though.

kirsten saell said...

Hmm, I may have to break my moratorium on contemporaries for this one.

I discovered a long time ago that if I was gonna be able to read any f/f to speak of, I'd have to step outside my genre comfort zone of historicals and fantasy/sci-fi.

Which is such a shame, really, because I think f/f sensuality within a historical context is just so appealing, and fantasy/sci-fi open up huge possibilities for exploring f/f love without feminist baggage attached to it.

It's telling that I didn't have any issues with Ann Aguirre's Jax books being in first person until Dina and Hit got together. It was disappointing that I never got a good look at how their relationship developed, or their interactions in private. I mean, on the one hand, it's really nice to see lesbian characters portrayed positively in mainstream stuff, but I wished the story could have focussed on them more than it did...

Cathy in AK said...

My moratorium (heh, sorry, Leah :) is being challenged, to be sure. But I have a hard time with just about any romances that don't seem to be more than the MCs hooking up. I prefer a side-by-side "other" plot no matter who, with whatever equipment, is sleeping with whom.

Which is such a shame, really, because I think f/f sensuality within a historical context is just so appealing, and fantasy/sci-fi open up huge possibilities for exploring f/f love without feminist baggage attached to it.

I have to second that. I've been reading a lot of Sarah Waters' historicals (Victorian and post WWII) of late and loving them to bits. And yes, the more "relaxed" approach to f/f in sci fi and some fantasy is nice. Something I hope I've managed with my own stuff ; )

I read Grimspace, but not the others on Aguirre's list. Might need to put those on the TBB.