My final class of graduate school is a course on genre fiction, and as part of an assignment, I’m writing a paper on erotica. After working on it for a while this afternoon, I decided that my brain hurt, and that maybe I should read some erotica instead of just researching it.
Conveniently, I had also just won a copy of Jeffe Kennedy’s “Ruby” from a giveaway during Armchair BEA.
Danielle Sosna is a type-A, ambitious young woman who coordinates photo shoots for magazines. She’s just been offered a coveted job working for Vogue in Paris. Her last job before she leaves takes her to New Orleans, where she meets Bobby Prejean, a famous Cajun chef. A battle of wills in his restaurant leads to a whirlwind BDSM affair as Prejean shows Dani all that New Orleans has to offer.
Kennedy does a fantastic job building her setting, incorporating the flavors and aesthetics of New Orleans into her story. Prejean’s dishes sound heavenly and decadent, and his dates with Dani are filled with masquerades and revelry.
I’m very impressed. It’s hard to find romance or erotica that work for me, because I need to see characters that aren’t ditzy, possess a modicum of intelligence, and respect each other. Here, the characters are smart, sexy, and self-possessed.
Prejean and Dani’s entire relationship is based on respect, both for each other and for their own limits. The main conflict/drama in the story is related to the workplace and not the dynamic between the two lovers. That’s refreshing, and absolutely necessary in a book that explores a kinkier relationship. One of the (many) things that I was disappointed with when reading Fifty Shades of Grey was the fact that the characters had an inherently dysfunctional relationship, and Christian Grey didn’t seem like the kind of person one could fully trust. Prejean is the opposite–he pays careful attention to Dani’s level of comfort and her limitations, and it allows both of them to fully explore their desires in a responsible way. Oh, and the best part? The two of them can actually hold a conversation with each other outside the bedroom. I like the relationships between my fictional characters to be based on more than just mind-blowing sex. Dani and Prejean’s personalities complemented each other perfectly.
When I started reading “Ruby,” I was looking for a quick and relaxing read that would help relieve some stress. Jeffe Kennedy delivers, and I can’t wait to read the other books in the series.