Pleasure For Pleasure
A long time ago, a co-worker snorted in derision as he tasted his Chinese take-out: “This soup is neither hot nor sour,” he proclaimed. I’d like to paraphrase him in reviewing this book because Pleasure For Pleasure is neither an interesting love story nor a good bit of erotic guilty pleasure. Instead, it is dull on both counts, with the added problem that Sobrato seems to have written her story with a gun pointed at her head: it has a cute, if flimsy, premise but after sketching the outline, she leaves the reader to flounder on alone.
The story opens promisingly enough. Marriage counseler Josie Marcus has recently returned to her hometown of San Francisco because her mother skipped off to Prague, asking Josie to watch over her business. Her mother’s business is a sex education center called the Lovers For Life Center, offering classes in “Reawakening the Goddess: Great Sex After Sixty,” “Introductory S&M,” and the “Art of Sensual Touch.” Josie has grown up in her mother’s sexual shadow, and reacted to her hedonistic ways by becoming overly reserved and inhibited. She is obviously uncomfortable in the Center, but because of her training as a marriage counselor, is able to lead the seminars when the hired presenters cancel.
Trent O’Reilly went to high school with Jodie, and it was he who gave her her high school nickname, Josie the Tease. Trent always had a crush on Josie, but a date gone bad in high school left them both uncomfortable around each other. Trent works next door at a sports equipment store, and he owns the building housing the Center. Josie’s mother left owing two months’ rent, and Josie doesn’t have it. Trent sees his chance to score on Josie (in a couple of ways) and offers to trade sex lessons in exchange for the past-due rent. Josie agrees, and finds herself in the awkward situation of trying to help someone else improve their technique even as she knows her own skills leave a lot to be desired. Plus, she’s always had a crush on Trent.
The two start their “lessons” and it would seem as if the real fun in this erotic romance would begin – after all, this somewhat silly set-up and clichéd characters are primed to have some mind-blowing sex, right? No. It is not that hot, at least not as it is described, and it appears Sobrato has applied the same broad brush to her sexual descriptions as she has to her plot. She leads us into the bedroom with Trent and Josie, then has them hastily reach their inevitable conclusions. Trent and Josie find themselves in some interesting situations, but Sobrato doesn’t take advantage of them, and sticks with the usual positions and descriptions. More time is spent on describing Trent and Josie’s deeper feelings for each other, but there is very little time spent on characterization in the first place, so it was difficult to understand what they saw in each other, even in a sexual way.
Together, Josie and Trent create some new business for the Center, and though this might have been fun, the author squanders the opportunity. In spite of being a marriage counseler and presumably having some training in the field, Josie’s knowledge appeares shallow, and when she trots out her lesson plans, readers will likely roll their eyes – probably not what the author had in mind. Josie’s mother eventually returns, although she offers no explanation for leaving the Center in such bad shape, and Josie doesn’t ask.
Earlier this year Jamie Sobrato received a B- for her Temptations’ title Some Like it Sizzling, which means she’s capable of writing a good little love story. In comparison, unfortunately, as a little love story Pleasure For Pleasure could have used a lot more description. As a piece of erotica, it could have used a lot more descriptive action. As a piece of romantic erotica, it was neither hot nor sour.