The previous book I read by Mari Carr – Covert Lessons, published by Ellora’s Cave – was terrible, so I didn’t go into this one with very high expectations. However, this book was put out by a different publisher and therefore had a different editor. I found this book to be a great improvement over Covert Lessons.
Gwen Preston has written a popular book of sex-themed short stories called Evening Songs. One of the stories, The Darkest Night, contained scenes of BDSM and Gwen, ashamed of her real-life interest in BDSM because (in part) of a previous relationship that went bad, used a pen name for that story.
Ty Ransome is a Hollywood action star who wants to turn over a new leaf and do “serious” films. He has read Evening Songs and thinks the book would make a good basis for a movie. He has also discovered that Gwen was the true author of *all* of the stories in the book. This intrigues him because he is secretly a sexual dominant. He offers to purchase the movie rights to the stories with the requirement that Gwen help him write the screenplay.
Gwen comes to Hollywood, and Ty puts her up in his guest house. He begins to visit her late every night, after she is in bed, and they talk for hours. Ty makes it clear that he is interested in her in more than a platonic way. Gwen initially keeps him at bay, but he eventually convinces her that he is sincere and also that they should reenact the scenes in her short stories as a way to help them develop the screenplay. Gwen agrees. During the course of this reenactment, Gwen and Ty discover each others secrets – that she is a submissive who craves (some) pain with sex and that he is a dominant who enjoys dishing out what she needs.
I liked the chemistry between the main characters and the fact that the relationship didn’t start out with sex right away. I do wish that we had gotten to experience a little more of that initial phase of the relationship rather than simply being told that it happened. I also liked that Gwen has a spine. She doesn’t immediately cave to Ty’s desires, and she’s got a few good zippy comebacks for him. Ty is good hero; he is patient when Gwen seems to need it and later forceful in way that doesn’t make him seem like an ass.
However, this book still suffers from some of the same basic writing problems as Covert Lessons – avoiding “said” as a dialogue tag (my biggest pet peeve); characters inferring the thoughts of other characters and telling the readers that, rather than the author *showing* the reader, occasional bits of stilted dialogue. The flaws are not as prevalent, though, so I don’t know if it’s result of the different editor, or if the author is improving her craft on her own.
I would try another of Ms. Carr’s books, as long as it wasn’t from EC.