Tuesday 14 August 2007

Dirty by Megan Hart

And now for something completely different. :)Dirty is not urban fantasy, it's a contemporary erotic tale. Thought I better just put that note there, as I think this will be the first non UF I've reviewed.

Dirty tells the story of Elle and Dan. It's told from Elle's point of view and she initially appears quite a cold and hard person. She doesn't want a relationship, she doesn't want to date. She has sex and then leaves. But then she meets Dan and things begin to change.

Often when I read erotic fiction I find myself comparing it to candyfloss. It's nice to have every so often, and whilst satisfying at the time, you realize afterwards it had very little substance and didn't fill you up. Sometimes you read a book subconsciously aware it feels like the author had a checklist to complete - oral sex (tick), anal sex (tick), menage a trois (tick), bondage (tick). Now there's nothing wrong with this, sometimes it's nice to have a break from emotional intensity. But it's also great to read an erotic novel that isn't just about a ticklist of sexual positions.

Dirty follows the development of a relationship, not a romance. Things don't go perfectly smoothly, mistakes are made, words are said that can't be taken back. Through the course of the story we find out why Elle is the way she is, this is a major plot point so I don't want to give it away.

Dan looks at Elle and SEES her. Her, not the person she pretends to be,not the person she wants people to think she is. And through this 'relationship' she slowly begins to open up, because of her circumstances it's slightly two steps forward one step back, but she makes progress.

I also enjoyed how Megan Hart had the tale of The Little Prince woven through the story. (Most UF/PNR readers are probably familiar with this through Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dance With the Devil). If you've never read TLP I do recommend it, even if you only read the first two pages which illustrate how easy it is for adults to stamp on the dreams of children. But it also has some lines of wisdom very applicable to Dan and Elle's tale. Notably - "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." and paraphrasing "The heart sees what is essential, and invisible to the eye."

In a way Elle reminded me slightly of Zoe from Wraith, another first person protagonist with a terrible incident in her past. And even though Dirty is told in first person, just like Zoe, there are things that Elle doesn't think about, things that we as readers find out about gradually, things that we piece together.

In places Dirty is not an easy tale to read, it deals with a difficult subject matter. But Megan Hart's characters come alive on the page, and the ending whilst not a traditional happy ever after, is hopeful and full of possibility.


Nicole said...

I LOVE The Little Prince. I must now dig through my boxes of books that I've kept from my school days (that's the problem with moving too often) and try to find it so I can read it again. I think everyone should read it once. Well, even so not everyone will get the point. But still.

Anonymous said...

I read another good review of this book at Rosie's blog awhile back. I'm not really into erotica. I read it, but I often feel like you described so I've leaned away from it.