Book Review – Fifty Shames of Earl Grey by Andrew Shaffer

WHAT’S PLAYING: Bo Durham “High School Party” (Yep, it’s that kind of book.)

This week’s book is Fifty Shames of Earl Grey by Andrew Shaffer a.k.a. Fanny Merkin.

fifty shames

Young, arrogant tycoon Earl Grey seduces the naïve coed Anna Steal with his overpowering good looks and staggering amounts of money, but will she be able to get past his fifty shames, including shopping at Walmart on Saturdays, bondage with handcuffs, and his love of BDSM (Bards, Dragons, Sorcery, and Magick)? Or will his dark secrets and constant smirking drive her over the edge?

Fifty Shames of Earl Grey is a parody of E.L. James’s series, Fifty Shades of Grey. For those of you unfamiliar with FSOG, James’s book started off as Twilight fan fiction and morphed into a story about a captain of industry (Christian Grey) who lures an unsuspecting college co-ed named Anastasia Steele into the world of BDSM.

The good news is that you don’t need to read Fifty Shades of Grey to enjoy Fifty Shames of Earl Grey.

I seriously could not stop laughing at the barrage of one-liners, irreverent jokes, and hilarious Twilight references throughout the book. Shaffer’s writing is fast-paced, fresh, and entertaining. His ability to comment on the clichés of erotic and romantic literature without seeming pretentious is nothing short of brilliant. He creates a hysterical mood that shatters the illusion of romance by overusing clichéd words. The word “gaze” appears to be one of his favorites.

From his man crush on Tom Cruise to his propensity for wearing a silver thong with pink crocs, Earl’s antics are hilarious and entertaining, and Anna Steele is the perfect straight woman.

Let me be clear, this is not an erotic novel. The magick themed sex scene in which Earl Grey pulls multi-colored hankies and a dove out of Anna’s lady parts will have you giggling nonstop.

Shaffer hits all the right notes in this parody. Can’t wait to see what he does next.

Favorite Line: “Ew,” I say. “Was that supposed to be sexy?”

“It was supposed to be. My dirty talk doesn’t turn you on?”

I shake my head. “Sometimes. But comparing a woman’s vagina to a fish is unacceptable.”

“What if I said ‘goldfish’? Goldfish are colorful and uniquely beautiful. Like you, my dearest Anna.”

I shake my head again. “Just stop. No fish.”

“Okay, then what did you have in mind?”

“Drop the double entendres and let’s move on to another F-word.”

“Oh, Anna,” he says. “I thought you’d never ask. Food it is, then! Let’s go eat in the dining hall.”

It wasn’t the F-word I had in mind, of course (it was actually two F-words: friending and Facebook), but it works. I’m hungry. Plus, I don’t even have a Facebook account.

Bottom Line: Fifty Shames of Earl Grey is relentless and shameless, in a good way.

Coming up next: The Innkeeper’s Song by Peter S. Beagle

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Book Review – The Siren by Tiffany Reisz

WHAT’S PLAYING: Pussycat DollsTainted Love

 

This week’s book is The Siren by Tiffany Reisz.

Notorious Nora Sutherlin is famous for her delicious works of erotica, each one more popular with readers than the last. But her latest manuscript is different—more serious, more personal—and she’s sure it’ll be her breakout book…if it ever sees the light of day. Zachary Easton holds Nora’s fate in his well-manicured hands. The demanding British editor agrees to handle the book on one condition: he wants complete control. Nora must rewrite the entire novel to his exacting standards—in six weeks—or it’s no deal. Nora’s grueling writing sessions with Zach are draining…and shockingly arousing. And a dangerous former lover has her wondering which is more torturous—staying away from him…or returning to his bed? Nora thought she knew everything about being pushed to your limits. But in a world where passion is pain, nothing is ever that simple.

Let me be clear, I’m not a huge fan of erotica. I tried to read Fifty Shades of Grey, but gave up after twenty pages. I know there are plenty of people who love the book, but I found it painfully bad. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s the reason on of my kidneys recently decided to shut down. (That’s right, EL James! You killed my kidney!) I met Tiffany Reisz at the Chicago Spring Fling Writers Conference, and was so impressed by her speech that I just had to read The Siren despite my previous, kidney murdering experience.

This book is everything Fifty Shades wasn’t: funny, touching, sexy, and most importantly, well written.

Let’s start with what this book is not. It is not a romance. At least, not in the traditional sense of the word. There are no happily-ever-afters and the course of true love most certainly does not run smoothly. In fact, I would liken this book to the emotional equivalent of being hit in the back of the throat with a claw hammer. You will laugh. You will cry. You will most certainly flinch.

The Siren reminds me of an old sparring partner. Stepping into the ring with him was like stepping into a maelstrom of vicious kicks and punches that seemed to come from everywhere at once. More often than not, I found myself flat on the mat, wondering what the hell happened.

Despite the emotional turmoil, I couldn’t put this book down. Reisz’s raw, vivid prose, sardonic wit, complex characters, and intricate plotting held me captive until the very last page. I was so taken with this book that I commissioned a Choctaw/Braille copy for my mother, and plan to do the same with the next book in the series.

This book is not about sex, though there is plenty of sex in it. It’s about love, respect, and pushing boundaries.

Provocative and disturbing, with scorching hot BDSM scenes, The Siren is everything erotica is meant to be.

 

Favorite Line/Image: “Master Griffin Fiske, meet my editor, Zachary Easton,” she introduced them.

“A pleasure to meet you.” Zach reached forward to shake Griffin’s hand. But Griffin kissed the center of his palm instead. Zach yanked his hand back.

“He’s gorgeous, Nora. Hot accent, too. Fucked him yet?”

Nora shrugged. “Just a blow job.”

Zach had the sudden urge to throttle Nora.

“Blow job on a British guy?” Griffin asked with some concern. “You’re a braver bitch than I. No offense,” Griffin said, turning to Zach. “I have a foreskin phobia.”

“Zach’s Jewish.”

Griffin nodded his approval. “Mazel tov.”

 

Bottom Line: This book will haunt you long after you’ve put it down.

 

Coming up next: Fifty Shames of Earl Grey by Andrew Shaffer