I really thought I was going to like this book. The description reminded me of The Virgin Romance Novelist, one of my five-star reads from last year. The book, though, couldn’t have been more different.
VERY MILD SPOILERS AHEAD
As the book opens, Stevie finds out that her boyfriend, Max, has been cheating on her. Already feeling unsexy because Max could never satisfy her in bed, she now feels betrayed as well. She moves out, deciding to use her accumulated hotel points to get away and a Cosmo article to find her sexy again. When she steps into the hotel bar, she meets Gabe. Stevie instantly knows that Gabe is everything she never had with Max, and their connection is immediately apparent.
This part of the book was okay. Not amazing, but maybe three stars.
Then Gabe takes Stevie to a sex club. And at this point, if you were to look at my Kindle notations, you would see that I added “OH NO NOT ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE SEX CLUB BOOKS.”
Note to any and all authors: If your book takes place in a sex club, this is something that should be disclosed in the blurb. And no, “Oh, you know where this is going" doesn’t count.
I am not a fan of books about sex clubs. Especially when the main character is just taken there and expected to accept it and join in. But I have significantly less problems with them when I know what I’m getting into. Still, it didn’t start out so badly. Gabe introduces Stevie to the lifestyle slowly, and she’s into all of it. She embraces her own sexuality, and you can tell that she’s becoming a happier person. I started to take issue when Stevie was no longer enjoying what was happening, but felt that she had to do it to appease Gabe and earn her place at the club. This is played off as sort of humorous, but it’s not.
It’s not funny when the characters feel forced into sex.
I haven’t DNF-ed in over a year, but I probably would have with this one if it hadn’t been so short. At 187 pages (probably closer to a true 150 given the unusual formatting), it only took me about two or three hours to finish. I see in the blurb that the book "now has 70% more content,” but I can’t help but wonder if that was a good idea. Of course, I never read the original online version, but what we get after a couple days at The Club just feels rushed and awkward. The ending is awful. Purposeful misunderstandings are one of my least favorite tropes, and they abound toward the end of this book. How hard would it have been for Stevie to check her voicemail or read her texts? I don’t think I’ve ever been so upset with someone that I refused to read their texts.
Both the title and the blurb are misleading. There are no “dirty little lies.” “Dirty little misunderstandings,” maybe, but not lies, unless you want to count Max and the cheating? And like I mentioned before, there is no indication that this book takes place in a sex club. There really aren’t any “romantic gestures,” as promised by the blurb. Stevie doesn’t even lose her bird!
And, you would think, at least, that a book published from an online version might undergo a bit of editing before people are expected to pay for it. This book came out two years ago, so I can’t even brush it off as an ARC issue. There are multiple line breaks within a single sentence. Point of view changes within the same paragraph. Grammatical mistakes throughout the entire book. This is okay when you’re reading some online smut. This is not okay in a published book.
Given the plethora of five-star rave reviews, clearly there is a demographic for this book. It’s just not me. If you’re reading my complaints and wondering what’s wrong with me, because this seems like something you’d totally be into, I encourage you to pick this book up.
Final rating: ★★☆☆☆ (rounded up from 1.5 given the entertaining start)
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy.
For my 2016 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #16: a book you can finish in a day.