The Escort Next Door: Clara Jones

Evening little bloggers. Just a word of caution, this is going to be a review of a different kind today for mylittlebookblog, as this review will be the first review of a book from the ‘erotica’ genre. Gasp of horror? Well, that’s the whole reasoning for this new outlook on books focusing on lust and romance of the slightly more intense variety. The idea is to get more bloggers reading, reviewing and most importantly talking about erotic literature. Since the 50 shades epidemic, more and more erotic literature is being written however it isn’t being discussed or reviewed as much as it should be. I got involved in this through twitter after seeing the hash-tag #SexMeUpReadathon. I was intrigued, and after reading the numerous tweets signed up. Now, the idea is that we book bloggers start blogging more about this seemingly less talked about genre! If you do have Twitter, I would really encourage you to take a nosy and see if you can get involved. As the host of this ‘readathon’ states it doesn’t matter if you read one or ten different books it’s about raising the profile of said authors and their books.

I guess it’s important to start this review with my original thoughts on erotic fiction. My first real encounter with this genre was, as I guess is the same with many, through ‘The 50 Shades of Grey,’ trilogy. I remember sitting with my friends, reading out the worst passages and rolling around on the floor laughing. I did eventually read the first, and the second book in the series but gave up before finishing the series. I disliked the control that was enforced and at times found the whole experience rather humiliating and hurtful. Dropping the book down the side of my bed one night after a particularly rough scene I am pretty sure it will still be down there, collecting dust as I type. It is fair to say that when I started this book, on the train back up to Stoke On Trent, that I was slightly surprised. Reading the first couple of paragraphs I stopped, shut the book and looked again at the title, yes, still the Escort Next Door. The book opens incredibly gently. I don’t know what I expected but instead of a saucy entry we rather casually meet Julia who apparently has the seemingly perfect family; a successful husband and three wonderful kids. From the outside all seems well, but behind closed doors things are anything but ordinary. Julia’s marriage has become distant and she finds stunning evidence about her husband’s actions on his business trips. Julia wants to escape and decides to make a decision that will change her life forever.

I think what really surprised me about this book was that the story really covers a number of different emotions. Not only does it follow the ultimate betrayal by her husband in which we see her helpless and distraught. But the feelings grow immeasurably through to angry, then panicked. However we see a stronger side, filled with maternal emotion that pushes through to create this new empowered, strong and determined female. It surprised me that in such a short narrative story so many different themes and emotions could be explored. Additionally although I found the story ultimately unrealistic, I think it is due to the main character changing from naive and wholesome to sex-starved goddess in a matter of pages, that the book covers a lot of background and works on developing the supporting characters. This is seen in the descriptions of the children, and the weaving in of the back-story of the best friend. This gave the book some depth and weight which helped to cement me as a reader into the story line. Although the book is short, it doesn’t feel like the book is stood on weak foundations, but there is a web of emotions and feelings that helps to sustain the unrealistic plot line and therefore makes the story a little more believable or at least distracts the reader a little.

I thought the scenes that do depict the sex scenes are written with a sense of understanding of how two people enjoy each other, unlike it’s 50 shades counterpart, and without being too strong it manages to describe the event rather strongly but without becoming to smutty. When starting this book I worried that the erotic scenes would become too strong and overpowering but they have just enough description to entice the reader without it all becoming a little too much. I don’t know whether I am not used to erotic fiction or whether it is the nature of the story that made me feel a little uncomfortable but for someone just starting as a reader of this genre it was just enough to peak an interest without scaring me off. The only thing that really caused a rift in my reading was an ethical side to the story; the female in the story becomes an escort due to knowing that without her husband she is nothing. For me, the manipulation of her needs as a mother was a little distracting, and I did think to myself at points that the story was stood on a incredibly difficult situation that didn’t quite work for me as a reader in this particular genre . I did find myself thinking, escort? Potentially a part-time job would have done. Although I have only read the first book in the story and I would be surprised if the author didn’t delve into this more in the following books, it did take a little away for me.

I think the main aspect I have taken from this is that erotica can be interesting and can revolve more around the relationships built and the intensity created that what you would normally expect. I understand as a reader that my views have been tainted by the farcical 50 shades, and although I know have mentioned it a lot, I think it is important to state that reading a book of this content has really changed my mind on erotic fiction. Although for me it was a little clichéd, it was a strong difference to the latter erotic fiction I have found myself reading and I think with the right book I would continue to explore the boundaries that writers and bloggers are pushing. I think what surprised me most was the strength of the writing; although I don’t think writing about sexual relationships wholly is difficult I assumed much like 50 Shades, that there would be a lack of build up of the story, however instead I found myself being drawn into the narrative and thinking ‘what would I do in that situation?’


8 thoughts on “The Escort Next Door: Clara Jones

  1. Christopher Chinchilla says:

    Interesting review, Lizzy… I’m glad you came across an erotica book with some merit–I like that the book “opened gently.” With erotica, though, people act as if the genre is overlooked for reasons other than noble, that there’s something wrong with the overlookers who criticize it. THEY’RE flawed, not the genre! But the truth is simply that it’s overlooked because there’s usually very little good writing. After all, we don’t watch pornos for the story. And like pornos, erotica books have to delivery on the goods–too much story and either they’re not published or the scenes are toned down and put in the drama section of the bookstore. So I’m not surprised that you found “cliches” in the book and that you thought “a part-time job” would do instead of becoming an escort… That’s the thing. When a writer gets an idea, the toughest part of it is realizing all the “outs” for the character and closing them up. The writer’s job is to make you think, “Of course, she HAS to be an escort. There is absolutely no way that anything else could possibly solve her problem, not a thing!” But then it wouldn’t be erotica, it’d be drama, because the writer would have to develop the story and characters in at least a hundred more pages, making the erotic scenes dozens of pages or several chapters apart–not what the erotica reader wants. So, for this an other reasons, I have a prejudice against the genre, too… I had similar reactions to 50 Shades that you did–ridiculously humorous, but (needlessly) disturbing. The fact that it became popular honestly, to me, suggests an intellectual epidemic in America. But NOT because of the genre, per se. Because of the content. I think every genre has potential. So I appreciate that you’ve taken a greater interest in erotica. But, though your reviews will open my eyes a little, I don’t think I’ll ever take to erotica. Then again…I’m probably not the audience for it, so who cares what I think? And that’s fair enough. =)

  2. bibliosa says:

    I’ve slowly started reading more erotica this year because I became friends with some girls who love it and they’ve introduced me to some of the good ones. To be honest, I didn’t think there were any good ones, (I judged based on 50 shades of Grey) but it goes to show that I shouldn’t judge an entire genre based on one book, and this one sounds pretty interesting I think I might give it a go!

  3. fidusjungsturm says:

    I have a VERY dark erotic character in my sci-fi universe “Precursor” that I wrote. Her name is Ai Takada, I even drew a line sketch of her on my WordPress site and a brief character bio, along with several posts about her on my site. You should check it out. ~Steven G.

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