I've decided to start reviewing books as I finish them, although I read fast, so I may not get round to reviewing every one I read. I'm also going to try to get to grips with Goodreads - it was suggested to me that I might want to use the app, and after faffing around for a while trying to set up an account, I realised I already had one - d'oh! It seems important that my ratings at least should reach the authors themselves - after all, they're the ones who've put in all that hard work for our reading pleasure, and I'm sure the feedback is valuable to them.
So, my first review. This was my first book by Charlotte Stein - I saw it recommended on another blog and I decided to give it a go. I wasn't sure if I wanted to review this book - particularly as my first - as it falls under the heading of erotica, and I'm just a little bit of a chicken. But then I remembered that I don't believe anyone should ever apologise for their taste in books, art or music. If someone has created it, and you like it, it has value.
So, the book is Sheltered by Charlotte Stein. The main character is a nineteen year old girl/woman called Eve, who has spent her entire life under the controlling and abusive thumb of her father - and I do mean abusive. Her restricted life begins to change when she meets a tattooed, pierced pot-smoking art student at her garden gate. Sounds like a cliché, right? Introverted girl meets bad boy with a heart of gold and he awakens her sexuality, leading to lots of energetic romping in the sack and thus freeing her from her old life? Well, not quite. For a start, he's not a bad boy. Appearance aside - and the reasons for that will become clear later in the book - Van is gentle and kind. Oh, and smoking hot.
Eve and Van's developing relationship is written beautifully - with all the attendant awkwardness that is crucial to their individual characters. I'm not going to lie; I like the odd smutty book. But more than that, I appreciate some finely crafted sexual tension. And this book has it in spades. The hot, tender scenes as they are tentatively exploring their feelings for each other are just beautiful. If you don't like explicit love scenes, don't buy this book. They're emotionally raw and naked, as well as physically. But I think Charlotte Stein has done a spot-on job of bringing these two hurting characters together and making a beautiful love story. My one small gripe would be that it's not the longest book in the world, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in intensity. I'm still thinking about these characters, and that's always my measure for how much I've enjoyed a book. You can write the most amazing plot in the world, but if the characters don't touch me, I'm unlikely to remember the book, and I certainly won't reread it.
So if you do like the sound of it, here's a link. Please, please ignore the truly awful cover - I don't know whose idea that was, but it's not indicative of either the contents or the actual character descriptions. Link: Sheltered by Charlotte Stein.