DIRTY by Megan Hart
This book was not what I expected. Coincidentally after I finished reading it mid-day yesterday my husband phoned. I was sort of weepy telling him I'd just finished a book that was supposedly an erotic romance and it had sort of knocked me on my ass. My dilemma in trying to do any sort of review of this book is that it has so many personal emotional triggers in it that I don't know if I can give it an honest evaluation as a book on its own.
I do think that a writer has to be pretty darn talented to write life situations and relationships so accurately that a reader would find them personally identifiable. I found myself wondering if Ms. Hart had experienced some of the same situations she put her characters in for her to so accurately capture their emotions. There is no way to fake to a child of an alcoholic parent what it feels like to be abandoned by a parent consumed with their addiction unless you've experienced that sort of loss first hand. At least I don't think so. Reading words coming out of Elle's mother's mouth that I've heard first hand from my own mother was a little bit freaky I have to say. While I've never suffered the trauma that Elle did, there were many quirks to her personality that I have in common with the character that made it a bit uncomfortable and emotionally draining to read at times.
So while I'm caught up in the turmoil of these personal emotions it's difficult to talk to anyone about the book and remove those factors. One of the first things I did when I sat down to write this was to look for other reviews. I immediately went to Dear Author and found a review that Jane did of DIRTY back in January. Since I was hardly around from mid-November to mid-January working on my heritage scrapbook project I missed most, if any, buzz there had been about this book. To tell you the truth I don't know how or why it got into my TBR. Somebody somewhere that I read a review or blog about it must have liked it.
Tara Marie had mentioned in her comments at the Dear Author review that she had picked up this book a couple of times and put it down and just couldn't get into it. I had the same experience. In fact I was in the process of a book purge when I picked DIRTY up and was leafing through it and reading bits to see if I should try to read it one more time or put it in the bag of books to be traded. Somehow, this time, I kept reading.
Here's the blurb from the back of the book:
This is what happened... I met him at the candy store. He turned and smiled at me and I was surprised enough to smile back. This was not a children's candy store, mind you--this was the kind of place you went to buy expensive imported chocolate truffles for your boss's wife because you felt guilty for having sex with him when you were both at a conference in Milwaukee. Hypothetically speaking, of course. I've been hit on plenty of times, mostly by men with little finesse who thought what was between their legs made up for what they lacked between their ears. Sometimes I went home with them anyway, just because it felt good to want and be wanted, even if it was mostly fake. The problem with wanting is that it's like pouring water into a vase full of stones. It fills you up before you know it, leaving no room for anything else. I don't apologize for who I am or what I've done in--or out--of bed. I have my job, my house and my life, and for a long time I haven't wanted anything else. Until Dan. Until now.
For me this blurb doesn't do the book justice or accurately give you an idea what the read will be like. I guess I get how this is called an erotic romance. Sort of. Is there sex? Yes. Is it really hot and wild? Not particularly. I would classify this more as a dark urban contemporary romance. Besides Jane's review I read most of the 13 now posted on Amazon as well. I don't see where alot of people have had the same reaction as me. For one thing I don't see much of the personal identification I had with the character and situations. I can understand from Jane's review her problems with seeing Elle as not very likable. Although I don't see Elle as flat and gray as Jane does and I realize that while I was reading I was trusting the author not to let me down and give me a pretty good reason for Elle's behavior. Ms. Hart does do that. Although I have to say that the book takes too long to start giving the reader peeks and hints as to why Elle is the way she is.
I was disappointed that we don't know more about Dan than his just always reacting to Elle. Why is he able to accept her and the restrictions she places on their relationship. What makes Dan tick? I don't think we get to see any (enough) of that. I am glad though that Elle is not a whiner or complainer. She's found what works for her so she can function somewhat normally and she's doing it.
For me this book is about redemption and the claiming of one's own life. Who harder to forgive than ourselves? For those reasons it made DIRTY a very worthwhile read. How I will feel about the book ultimately I don't know. Many of my thoughts are still swirling around my own personal demons. Only time will tell. I do know that I went to Ms. Hart's web site I found myself interested in her next Harlequin Spice release due out in May called Broken. I'm looking forward to reading it and comparing the experience to this book.
A final note, as usual when I really like or am intrigued with an author I go looking for other books of theirs to glom. There are many of Ms. Hart's to choose from at Amberquill Press both erotic and non-erotic titles. Interestingly I didn't purchase a single one. Like DIRTY that languished in my TBR for several months I didn't feel compelled or interested to buy after reading the blurbs and/or excerpts from those books. Maybe I'll figure out why about the same time I find out how I came to have DIRTY in the first place.