by Kris Starr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Lovely / 978-1-426-89029-1
When I requested "Lovely" on NetGalley, I'll admit I wasn't looking too closely at the category or the tiny thumbnail picture. I skimmed over the description and saw that the protagonist was a French prostitute who – shockingly enough – didn't enjoy her job, and figured it was one of those artsy literary novels that explores destitution and existential crises and all the other stuff that literary majors like me get excited about. It wasn't until I opened the book and noticed that the novella is all of fifty-three pages long that I got it through my dense skull that "Lovely" is actually an erotica short story.
Except it sort of isn't. Or, at least, it doesn't seem to be – erotica isn't really my usual genre, but I was rather impressed that "Lovely" stuff to its guns and portrayed the protagonist's situation to be less than fulfilling, which is still a step above Saalih's ridiculous "Harem Girl". Of course, "Lovely" tones down any hint of misery, poverty, and degradation – this is still an erotica novel, after all – but the heroine is intelligent and talented and realistically unfulfilled in her work and managed largely to not annoy me through the length of the work, which is a strong point in her favor.
I don't really have a frame of reference to say whether "Lovely" is ‘good' erotica or not – I personally didn't find the sex scenes to be particularly thrilling, but they're well-written enough that I can imagine some readers will enjoy them. The plot isn't ground-breaking or creative, but it's well done and the subject matter is handled relatively respectfully, and the ending was a pleasant and unexpected surprise. I suppose I should also mention that thanks to "Lovely", I've learned a new word for female genitalia, so there's that.
I guess I can honestly say that of the handful of erotica novels I've read, I found "Lovely" to be pleasantly un-annoying, largely free of cliche, and mostly respectful of the subject matter. I was able to read through it fairly quickly – maybe all of 20 minutes from cover to end – so if you like this sort of thing, check it out. I'm still sorry that the book didn't turn out to be the genre I'd anticipated, but at least now I can add 'erotic novel' to the list of genres I've reviewed.
NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through NetGalley.
~ Ana Mardoll
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