Making Him Want It
What is an Erotic Romance? Is it primarily a love story with much more explicit sex, or is it a bunch of sex with some romance? Or is the distinction even worth considering? And what is the difference between Erotic Romance and Erotica? I thought I knew the answers to these questions, yet found myself pondering them again as I read Renee Luke’s Making Him Want It. My reviewer’s copy calls Aphrodisia, the imprint publishing this book, Erotic Romance, yet under genre, it calls this particular book Erotica. Maybe they decided to split the difference because an argument could be made for either designation. In any case, the reason I spent so much time thinking about all of this is that the book slowly lost my interest after a strong beginning, leaving me plenty of time to consider all of the above.
Kat Mason belongs to the not-so-grand tradition of romance heroines who make a living talking about sex while having little experience of their own. She has a lucrative career writing Erotica under the pen name Glory Cockin, but her stories are strictly fantasies, since her own sex life is sorely lacking. When she finds herself struggling with a severe case of writer’s block, she decides it’s time to go out and get some inspiration. Putting on a sexy outfit, she ventures out to the erotic club The Night Kitty in search of a man to fill her sexual needs and refuel her creativity. It doesn’t take her long to find the man of her fantasies and retreat to an alley to have her way with him. But the man she hooks up with isn’t quite the stranger she imagines.
Kat’s agent Jamal James has frustrations of his own. He doesn’t have much of a sex life either, and reading his number one client’s sexy stories provides him with the only carnal satisfaction he’s gotten lately. They’ve never met in person, but he considers her a friend. Not one for the club scene, he finds himself dragged to The Night Kitty by a colleague, only to meet a woman who tempts him into an out-of-character tryst. When they’re done, she leaves him without giving her name. But when he gets to the office on Monday and opens the email containing Kat’s latest stories, all of them inspired by their encounter, he recognizes the details and figures out the sexy siren was none other than his reclusive client.
This book is essentially a long string of sex scenes connected by the thinnest whisper of a plot, and an utterly predictable one at that. Jamal wants to do the right thing and tell her who he is and that he knows who she is. Kat just wants the fantasy without strings, so she cuts him off before he can reveal the truth and tells him she doesn’t want to know anything about him. But of course, they both still want each other, so the sex continues, one encounter after another (after another, after another…), as the author puts off the inevitable revelation as long as she can. Jamal feels guilty and wants Kat to find out, but rather than tell her, he arranges a situation where she’ll find out anyway. The truth comes out, and everyone reacts exactly the way you’d expect in this very familiar storyline.
If all you’re looking for is hot sex, then this book should satisfy. The sex is highly explicit, sometimes creative, and nearly constant throughout the book. I would say at least three-fourths of the book is sex. When they’re not actually doing it, they’re certainly thinking about it, or talking about it with others, or leading up to it. Luke writes with a sexy, playful, somewhat bawdy style that works well for this type of tale, and she convincingly portrays the raw attraction between these two people. It’s definitely not the soft focus sex of the typical romance novel, but more hardcore.
At first, it’s entertaining enough. The problem is that everything not related to the sex is fairly uninteresting. After a while, the sex became rather dull as well. It just went on and on. There’s really no external element or subplots. There are a few brief mentions of Jamal’s hound dog co-worker hooking up with a friend of Kat’s, but the whole thing is tossed off in a offhand sort of way, and none of the secondary characters makes much of an impression. It really is just Kat and Jamal having sex, with the big secret/misunderstanding hovering over them waiting to swoop down eventually.
I do believe a love story can be told mostly through sex (see Jo Leigh’s Scent of a Woman), but there has to be a sense that they’re getting to know each other on a deeper level beyond the intercourse. While Luke tries to give the sense that they develop feelings for each other through their sexual encounters, they don’t really talk about anything other than sex since they’ve agreed not to share anything about themselves. Most of the happy ending is based in the fact that they actually already know and like each other, and now that they’ve found out how compatible they are sexually, they really are a good match. But that revelation is put off until the end. As a result, instead of watching a relationship unfolding, I was just watching a bunch of sex between characters I really wasn’t all that invested in, which got old after a while.
Kat and Jamal are likable enough, but the characterization is fairly shallow and I can’t say I really cared about them one way or another. It didn’t help that they were trapped in such a trite plot, which contained no surprises. As it headed into the home stretch, I found myself sighing more than once as the plot played out by rote.
Making Him Want It has enough of a love story between two people that it probably should be called Erotic Romance, but I think it would actually work better for readers who want Erotica. The love story just isn’t interesting enough to make for a compelling romance. The sex, on the other hand, should satisfy those looking for a scorching read. Just don’t expect much else.