I started reading romance novels in 8th grade, giggling at the mall’s bookstore with my girlfriends in our mini-packpacks full of Claire’s earrings, snickering at the sex scenes. We got kicked out one time actually.
Although my introduction to the genre was out of immaturity, they became the mainstay in my reading habits and I was ALWAYS embarrassed that I read them. Literally until 3 months ago when I discovered romance book blogs and realized there is a WHOLE HUGE part of world (wide web) who appreciates, respects, and luurrves them too.
As I felt more empowered about my reading choices I found that I hadn’t taken the next step in my lusty reading journey: Erotic Romance. I still know VERY little about this sub-genre, but if traditional romance already prompts the horrible stereotype of porno/recycled/bad writing, erotic romance has an even WORSE rep.
Boy are they wrong. I picked up Emma Holly’s Velvet Glove based on a few good reviews and found one of the BEST WRITTEN PASSAGES of how love starts and grows, unbeknownst to the person themselves. Check out Holly’s FABULOUS skills:
She closed her eyes. Deep inside her, in the recesses of her soul, something sparked and began to burn like a tiny candle. The something had never been there before: not for her father [and] not for her mother… It hadn’t been there for any of her ex-boyfriends, or for Sterling… Nor had it been there for Tommy, her best friend, though of all the people she’d known, he’d come the closest to lighting it.
If she suspected how small and fragile the something was, she might have blown it out. As it happened, however, she barely registered its presence. She certainly didn’t know what it was. Consequently, as Audrey slept in Patrick’s arms, the little flame burnt merrily, a sneak thief, a harbinger of things to come.
The imagery evoked a powerful response in me and stayed with me through the rest of the book – I felt, saw, and cherished that flame as Audrey and Patrick’s relationship developed.
So there, erotic romance CAN be well written. But that doens’t mean this story and characters totally worked for me…
Now I definitely didn’t read Velvet Glove on the metro, and when hubby saw the cover I wasn’t 100% upfront with him about what I was reading at the time, but I wasn’t as sketched out or embarrassed as I thought I would be, and will definitely be checking out more reviews for well-written erotic romance in the future.
Read on for the summary of Velvet Glove and what I thought overall:
Audrey Popkin realises she has bitten off more than she can chew when she gets embroiled with icy-cool banker, Sterling Foster. His ideas about how to have fun are more bizarre than any English Literature graduate should have to put up with! One morning she packs her bags and walks out of his luxury Florida apartment, heading back to Washington DC in search of a more regular deal with a more regular guy. But, for a girl like Audrey, this is not as easy as it sounds. When Patrick Dugan, the charismatic owner of an old-world bar with a talent for mixing the smoothest cocktails, fixes Audrey in his sights, some strange alliances are about to be formed. Within a week Audrey talks her way into a job at Patrick’s bar and a room in the apartment he shares with a drag queen jazz singer called Basil – who has a great line in platinum wigs. Audrey soon realises that Patrick is not all he seems. Why is he pretending to be gay? And what is he covering up for his father, a pillar of the local community? Audrey is so besotted with the enigmatic barman that she doesn’t realise they are connected by a mutual adversary – a steely, cold-hearted son of a bitch who will take them all down if he doesn’t get his little plaything back.
Holly is a British author and REALLY did her research before setting her story in DC. Maybe that’s also why I liked this book so much ;)
The characters went to some of my favorite places! Thomas Sweet ice cream on Wisconsin in Georgetown is an automatic stop-in during summer shopping sprees and Kramer Books in Dupont is only a few blocks from my house, and a Sunday brunch mainstay!
Also, one of the hottest scenes where Patrick chains Audrey up and during their love making they both realize independently how much they actually love each other takes place in a private-house-museum on Q Street. Yeah, we live on Q Street. So now when I walk down the sidewalk I might just fantasize an eensy-beensy-weensy bit!
I also LOVED all the secondary characters, Basil, Tommy, even Newton the cat. And I hate cats. They provided plenty of fodder for banter, witty dialogue, and helped Audrey and Patrick’s relationship move forward.
What I didn’t like: how Audrey treated Tommy. He was SUCH a good guy and she totally took advantage of him, playing with his feeligns, which seemed pretty serious, beyond just a regular crush on her.
She jumped from bed to bed too quickly, like after running away from cruel Sterling that VERY day she hooks up with Tommy. Also I didn’t see as much character growth from Audrey as I would have liked to. She just sort of coasted through all of her experiences and while she had quite a bit of introspective pondering about her feelings for Patrick, she still seemed a bit stuck in her role of a 22 year old ingenue.
B grade overall for me. I will definitely be reading more by Emma Holly as well.