Grade : A

Eris Adderly’s Bass-Ackwards is the sweetest book you’ll ever read that starts with the hero committing egregious workplace sexual harassment. A standout working-class erotic romance that starts out pushing consent boundaries and gradually works its way backwards to heartwarming, Bass-Ackwards is a kinky, cuddly contradiction that I enjoyed from start to finish - or maybe, in true bass-ackwards fashion, finish to start.

Christina Lee Dodd manages the office at Haul Ash, a truck and equipment rental company in a small town in East Texas. Her boss Bill Miller is a complete jerk, as evidenced by the fact that when she asks for a day off, he says he’ll give it to her - if she bends over the desk and lets him have sex with her. Christina is taken aback, but decides to hell with it and lifts up her skirt.

If Christina is taken aback, Bill is downright stunned. He’s been in love with Christina for the entire two years she’s worked for him, but she’s a kind, helpful person and he knows full well she thinks of him as “Asshole Bill” - and he doesn’t disagree. It never occurred to him that she’d say yes to his offer - but once she does, he’s not going to hold back. What happens is the best sex of his life, and something Christina surprises herself by… not hating? The following day, Bill offers her a pay raise if she’ll give him an hour a week for sex. Again, she surprises both of them by saying yes.

This is going to be a completely unacceptable premise for some people, and if that’s you, please move on. But if you think something edgy might work for you as long as it ends up being heartfelt, then stick around.

I’ve struggled to find books I enjoy in erotic romance because I’m not particularly drawn to the ubiquitous tormented, wealthy, emotionally frigid, twenty-seven-year-old billionaire who stars in a very high percentage of recent releases. I love that the author doesn’t rely on what Bill possesses to make him sexy to Christina. The man’s house still has the pink bathroom and shag carpeting installed by the elderly woman he bought it from, for heaven’s sake. Rather, the attraction comes from how Bill makes Christina feel and how he shows himself to be better than we expected (he adopts a stray dog! He names it Daisy!). Both he and Christina learn to speak about the thing that they haven’t confronted in their lives - Bill, his emotions, and Christina, her budding submissive sexuality.

Bass-Ackwards doesn’t just stand out because it has a third person narrator (the ‘I’ voice seems to be the go-to for erotic contemporaries these days), but also because the prose is legitimately great. Christina wears a skirt that is “somewhere south of slut but north of schoolteacher.” Bill decides “nothing bad” should ever happen to Christina, “and that was pretty goddamn hypocritical considering he was likely to be the main bad thing that kept happening to her.” It was a delight to read authentic character-filled voices, both in and out of sex scenes, and ones which remain true to character instead of devolving into florid rhapsodies in the most emotional moments. (Bill’s declaration for Christina involves both the word “fuck” and the phrase “wretched sonuvabitch”).

Bass-Ackwards reminds me a bit of Cara McKenna’s legendary After Hours, in that it features an authentic working-class couple, some psychological d/s (rather than the props-driven kind), and relationships based on actions. It’s unlike anything I’ve found in erotic romance lately, and I’m excited to share a new-to-me author who is hopefully new to many of you as well.

Buy it at: Amazon

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Grade : A
Book Type: Erotic Romance

Sensuality: Burning

Review Date : October 24, 2022

Publication Date: 04/2019

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Caroline Russomanno

I'm a history geek and educator, and I've lived in five different countries in North America, Asia, and Europe. In addition to the usual subgenres, I'm partial to YA, Sci-fi/Fantasy, and graphic novels. I love to cook.

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