Sunday, June 2, 2013

Review: The Seduction of Moxy by Colette Moody

The Seduction of Moxie

By Colette MoodySeptember 21,2009Lesbian/Romance/Retro 1930’s era

69.6K words

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

When Hollywood-bound actress Violet London meets speakeasy singer Moxie Valette, her trip takes an unexpected turn toward love.

New York City, 1931: When wry Broadway actress Violet London and her hard-drinking cohorts venture into a speakeasy the night before she is to board a train for Hollywood, she is floored by sassy blond singer Moxie Valette. As Violet introduces Moxie to an assortment of bootleg liquor, cross-dressers, and sex shows, she vows to find a way to see her again. Moxie is fascinated by Violet in a thrilling and unfamiliar way, and the ensuing evening of bon mots, shameless flirtation, and illicit revelry is unlike anything she has ever experienced.

From Manhattan to Los Angeles, both women’s lives are turned upside-down by separation, unscrupulous motion picture studio executives, self-serving agents, eccentric celebrities, and the collection of hedonistic reprobates that are their closest friends.

I’ve been jonsen to read some lesbian stories set in the early 20th century lately and this one was recommended. I’ve read Colette Moody’s The Sublime and Spirited Voyage of Original Sin and really liked it so I jumped on reading this one.

This story started out great. Loved the characters; Violet, Moxie and the group of colorful  secondary characters. Loved the setting; the world of entertainers in speakeasies in NYC and Hollywood movie industry during the 30’s. Loved the biting, sarcastic humor. But most of all loved the slow sexual tension build-up between Violet and Moxie. That said, there were some minor issues.

Violet is one of those female characters I get off on. She pulls no punches, goes for what she wants in a direct but patient way, and is very confident in who she is. She doesn’t really care what people think of her, especially that she’s a lesbian. She doesn’t go flaunting it but she doesn’t hide it either. She sets her eyes on Moxie and goes for it not caring what Moxie’s sexual orientation might be.

Moxie is the perfect complimentary character to Violet. She’s not as straight forward, but is honest in a more down to earth way. She’s not totally naïve but is innocent and curious enough to be persuaded by Violet’s seductive energy towards her. In the beginning she’s portrayed as a rather aloof, keeping to herself off stage, but seductive on. She works in a speakeasy as a singer and something about her quiet intensity, looks, voice and unassuming character totally grabs Violet.

From the get-go Violet pursues Moxie in a direct but non pushy way. Actually one of the best parts of this book is how perfectly the author built up the sexual tension and attraction between these two women. That’s something that I often find not well developed in many romance stories. Just enough time and pacing was given so that it’s totally believable that Moxie would reach the point of wanting Violet as much as Violet wants her.

Outside of the love story there are lots of things going on with this book and the gaggle of characters. One of the main foils to Violet and Moxie actually consummating their attraction and getting together is Moxie’s agent, Cotton. He’s hip to what’s going on between them and he does whatever he can to keep them apart both to keep Moxie focused on her career and to keep her from becoming a scandal due the lesbian relationship, which could kill her career if it came out.

Wil, a secondary character who takes up lots of book real-estate, is Violet’s bff. She has no filter really and comes across as nympho alcoholic who seems to enjoy flaunting it. She’s recruited to keep Cotton occupied to help give Violet and Moxie some private time so that can finally have a chance at consummating their attraction.

While overall I enjoyed this book, I had a few issues; par for the course in any book. One of the main issues was the humor. In thinking about it, I feel maybe the author was trying to mimic some of those classic screwball comedies of the 30’s in the whole way the book was written, the pacing of story and the antics of each of the characters.

For the most part, the dialogue, double entendres, and sarcasm were funny. Laugh out loud funny. However, sometimes the sarcasm crossed the line into meanness for me. Particularly Violet steps over the line and I didn’t get why; she didn’t need to. Wil I could see because in many ways she’s a one dimensional character—not much is offered in the way of how she’s affected emotionally about anything-- and doesn’t care how she comes across. But Violet has more depth and soul.

Another issue I had, and this is really minor, was that several times real actresses from the time period were thrown in. For some reason I found this distracting. Maybe it’s more of personal thing since I’m an old movie buff. I’ve read many star biographies and movie industry nonfiction from this time period. So knowing a lot about some of the stars mentioned it felt weird since their personalities were generic except for the name. Although, the author did get Bette Davis down fairly accurately. Would have been better for me if the author used real names for studio heads since they were less in the limelight.

Even so, I felt the author created an accurate feel of the time period. Part of the humor I enjoyed was the slang used. I started recently watching old movies again on TCM and was shocked really at the colorful slang, some of it still used today, that was used back then. Often it’s far more witty actually then of today. The type of light, humorous banter in the dialogue of movies from that time is captured nicely as well.

I also felt the essence of sexual mores and licentiousness of that time is integrated and expressed accurately. Movies from this time period do show that that this was a time of sexual revolution and to some degree decadence, even if censuring was strict. (Mae West anyone?) There was a lot of sexual experimentation. While the studio heads kept actors on tight leashes as far as keeping anything other than straight and married relationships out of the papers, all kinds of things went on outside of that as we all know now,  which was also accurately portrayed in this book.

I thought the author showed the ramifications of Moxie and Violet’s relationship if found out by the public in a true way. Maybe IRL Moxie and Violet might have kept their relationship and orientation hidden, but I enjoyed that in this story they had the guts to just be who they are and that they found a business they could be free in.

All in all, The Seduction of Moxie is a delicious, fun read. And my desire to read stories from this time period was very satisfied.

Heat Level: 2-3 Some sexual situations that were sensuously written but not in a very graphic way.

Grade: Really liked

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