Say My Name – A Review

This review includes spoilers

My 2018 reading project takes me to the library weekly for another handful of romance books. One of the four I grabbed last weekend was this novel by Allegra Huston. Please don’t read further if you haven’t yet read this book, because I’m going to talk about details.

Apparent in the first few pages was this book’s noncompliance with standard romance fare. As the story developed, that first impression solidified. For one thing, the author’s skill with language and flow set it apart from average fiction. Delightful reading full of luscious description and mysterious character development.

I don’t quite agree with the library’s decision to classify this a romance. Maybe that’s good because that category might gain it more readers than if was shelved as literary fiction. But that’s the feel of it—literary.

Yes, it’s erotic but only here and there. That was the main deviation from the romance norm. Even Regency romances with all their corset stays manage to convey intense physical desire and the ripping of clothes pretty much on a page-by-page basis. Say My Name? Not so much. Rather, this novel includes a lot of navel gazing by this woman who changes so much in the course of the story.

The premise is that a middle aged severely under-developed woman meets a man twenty years younger who manages to wake her up in all possible ways. The story doesn’t hang on that however, but rather on her discovery of an antique viola da gamba with a bashed-in back. Turns out the young man is a musician and their mutual interest in the instrument drives the plot alongside their mutual attraction.

Then there’s the largely absent husband of said woman, a tormented soul flailing around trying to discover himself while, in the process, continuing to walk all over her. There’s a point near the end where he gets what’s coming to him, a triumphant moment for any woman who ever wanted to take a two-by-four to a similar man. So thanks for that, Ms. Huston.

The novel is set in the present day. For me, the drawback in reading this was my disbelief that any woman of our times could possibly be this inexperienced, this utterly out of touch with herself. I suppose it’s possible—anything is. But that particular aspect of her personality, which happened to be a major factor in how the story unfolded, really kept coming back as I read.

Are there really housewives out there who silently cook, clean, do laundry, and put up with a completely disinterested aloof husband? For all those years? On what planet? I mean, there are television shows, movies, novels, wine, and girlfriends to help you out if that condition applies. Who simply curls up inside herself never questioning that life might be better? Are there people out there who never listened to rock ‘n’ roll? Never heard The Doors sing “Break on thru to the other side…”?

But okay, I’ll set that aside for a minute while I talk about the younger guy. Mmmm, he’s scrumptious. Tall, dark, and handsome with green eyes that never let her go. Bold, ready to take her the minute they meet. But wait—I never hear him say what exactly it is about her that draws him like a moth to flame. Why does this fabulous young male so sought after by an endless herd of young attractive women decide he has to have a woman twice his age?

He thinks she’s beautiful. He likes that she’s cloistered inside herself. Maybe it’s his heroic urge to free her from all that swaddling and help her breathe in the air of life as an independent strong adult female. If so, his prescience is kind of staggering.

There are several places that drifted off the page for me, one of them her dive into sculpting and then her crazy idea to create a dildo in the shape of a tulip. This makes NO SENSE! How such a shape could be inserted is one painful question, but then how could it possibly be pleasurable while riding along inside her is another. For me, the story also fell off a cliff in the last scene of their sexual intimacy when he convinced her to swallow a Quaalude and then she wakes up to the vicious actions of one of his former girlfriends. I mean, why? Non sequitur.

Throughout the book, which I lingered over just to savor the language, I kept thinking this had to be something of an allegory. But what? What possible metaphorical meaning could there be behind an older woman and younger man joining in a bizarre love affair?

I haven’t figured it out, so if you have a clue please let me know. My thoughts so far are that if the author had any such intent, maybe the characters represent different parts of ourselves, she the intellect with its obedience to rules and patterns and habits we all craft to give our lives structure, structures that become a prison of sorts keeping us locked in step with what we’ve been doing for too long. Maybe he’s the art, the muse, the music and poetry and wild uninhibited rush into the unknown that –if we allow it into our lives—can awaken us to the terrible awful joy of being alive. That’s sex for you, a mechanism that takes us out of the ho-hum daily grind and, at least potentially, pops us up on top of a cloud where light shines brilliantly all around us.

Maybe that’s just me. In my writing, my objective is to show how sex serves a transformative role for people caught in an unhappy life. Sex is a doorway, an opening to the inner self—if we let it. That’s why I remain so frustrated with people/society who continue to be uncomfortable with open sexuality in literature. That said, the author here doesn’t linger on nipples and clitorises and neither does she actually ever present the word ‘cock.’ That’s another clue that this isn’t ‘romance’ in its standard iteration.

I’m happy that Ms. Huston created this story. As I read, I kept getting the feeling that it’s based on a real life experience in more ways than one. It seems older than our present day, mostly because the woman is so repressed, almost Victorian. But then, the present day is when we might be most likely to find a young man like this, dissolute and unstructured and so determined to pursue his reality in unconventional ways. I won’t soon be able to forget it.

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The Romance

gandyThat little spot in your heart that still believes in fairy tales, in the prince in shining armor who will swoop in and make everything right—that spot lives on in women no matter how life’s disappointments have crushed us down. That man who cheated on you, hurt you, left you with debt and children and heart-stopping pain? That man who never lived up to his promises, your expectations? Those men are out there. We know them.

But surely there’s one man, one perfect man, waiting just for you.

This is the lure of romance. This is the duty romance writers must fulfill. It’s a daunting task.

On one hand, the fictional hero must be suitably flawed—irascible, a little too proud, bullheaded. He’s impossibly unattainable, not our type, completely out of our league. Despite his supremely arrogant demeanor, deep inside he’s suffering. He needs our love even if he doesn’t yet know it.

We can’t turn our back on him even when we try.

On the other hand, our hero must be exquisitely capable of seeing through our defenses and, against his intent, is drawn to the task of making us happy. He’s ruggedly handsome, his body sculpted like a Greek god. He’s intelligent and sensitive, thoughtful and kind. Above all, his sexual prowess leaves us without recourse.

He is specially made just for us. The soul mate. The man who fits us inside and out.

Not all woman are alike. Thankfully neither are authors of romance. For every author who tends to write the strong silent type, there are others who create male leads with a talent for witty banter and intellectual pas de deux. There are heroes in hard hats and those who carry Viking swords. Rich men with tortured pasts, lost men clinging to the shambles of their lives.

For every story that follows a woman burdened by life’s tragedies and unable to continue, another story reveals a woman too hardened to give a man a chance. Stubborn women. Faltering women. Terrified women. We’re all in there.

The plot takes us through the journey, scenes of seduction that thrill us, scenes of rejection and conflict that remind us of what we’ve suffered. In these stories, we look for something to believe in, some revelation, some escape. The knight on the white horse may not be on our doorstep but maybe the heart and soul of such a man lingers inside the furnace repair man or the man staring at us across the McDonald’s parking lot.

It’s the possibility that tempts us, makes us believe enough to pick up yet another book and indulge in the fantasy. It’s a sacred task, this spinning of tales that revitalize us, inspire and comfort us. I for one am an author who cherishes the opportunity to participate in this world of magic.

Long live the dream!

Free — Limited Time Offer!

CaerII cover ebook
Free E-Books to THREE WINNERS!
 
For your chance to win an ebook copy of the newly released Caerwin & Marcellus PLUS an ebook copy of the first book in this two-book story, Caerwin and the Roman Dog, subscribe to Liz’s Hot News! This e-newsletter arrives in your inbox once a month full of sexy shorts, special offers, and much more. No obligation, no cost–this newsletter will quickly become one of your favorite hot spots.
 
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In one day’s time, Caerwin’s life changes forever. Everything she knows is lost in a vicious bloody battle—her family with its network of kinsmen, her home at the bustling hillfort of western Britannia, her ancient way of life as a Celt. Reeling in shock, her wrists and ankles bound, she faces the man responsible.

She spits at his greeting and vows to kill him.

Marcellus, commander of Rome’s Legion XIV Gemina, spares this fiery young beauty from the slave traders who take away survivors of her tribe. War hardened and even more inured by Imperial Rome’s dissolute ways, he’s drawn to her innocence.

He wants her. He’ll make her his no matter what it takes.

Contest ends at Midnight Saturday July 30. Adults only due to explicit and occasionally dark sexual content.

Jarrod Bancroft — his time is now

Jarrod the novel copyIt started innocently enough. A rich young man in search of adventure in sadistic humiliation. An older woman intent on her profession as dominatrix. Their crossed paths should have been six weeks of a purely business relationship.

But things never go as planned.

The story of Jarrod Bancroft becomes much more than scenes of extreme sexual kink. Hope rejected, regret and anguish, terror in captivity, and an awful truth about Jarrod’s family emerge in this richly-presented series. Told in stunning detail, Jarrod Bancroft’s adventure reveals old lies, ugly threats, and the raw human need for love.

Averaging 4.5 star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads!

“…hotness, explosive sex scenes and most of all one of Lizzie Ashworth’s signature immersive plots, which keep me returning to her books.” Kirsty

I was pleasantly surprised by the caliber of writing and soon lost myself in the story.” Tracy

“…surprising revelations, steamy sex and desperation…” Donna

Book I ebook FREE at the following retailers:

Smashwords           Barnes and Noble           Amazon

Book II and Book III ebooks only $2.99!

Paperback Jarrod Bancroft: The Novel includes all in Books I, II, and III

Buy it at Amazon for only $11.69

Another excerpt, Faint Heart

1780877_679810408732762_2039753660448518315_nPart of him wanted to run after the car, call for her to come back, the same way he’d felt that night so many years before. Throat tight, he opened the gate and walked into the back yard, where his dog had always stayed, where the toys of his childhood had been tossed around, where he parked his bike. All of it lay in his chest like a fresh bleeding cut.

Morgan Woods

~~

Great reviews stacking up for this sexy, contemporary romance!

 

Excerpt, Faint Heart

field creek 0001When Cara looked up, Morgan’s eyes lingered on her mouth and heat flared to her nipples. They talked about the natural flow of water and spreading it wider for better visual access, and when she caught his lazy glance, she was sure he was talking about something else entirely. Her eyes followed the stroke of his tongue across his lips after he sipped his scotch. She glimpsed the base of his throat where the movement of his swallowing shifted into the ‘v’ of his shirt. Her head spun with the wine and his laugh and the sheer pleasure of sitting with him.

She leapt up to stir the potatoes. A quietly stern voice lectured her from the back of her brain and pointed out that the real reason she invited him was that more than anything, she wanted to be carried away in his strong arms. Again. Only this time, straight to her bed. And now, it seemed things were headed in that direction.

Panicky alarm bells clanged in her head. How could she get out of this? Did she even want to get out? Wasn’t the real plan to go to bed and get all this drama settled?

Oh, shit, she was so confused.

She turned and ran smack against his chest. He took her shoulders in his hands and pulled her up toward him as his mouth lowered to hers. Blindly, she lifted her mouth and pressed it against his, sinking immediately into a blissful chorus of white noise. His lips brushed and teased, crushed and pushed, and then the tip of his tongue slid against her lips. Fire shot through her stomach.

Oh god in heaven, she wanted him. Her mouth opened against his lips as a quiet sigh formed in her chest. Her hands swept past his warm shoulders and splayed across his muscled back. His hands slid down her arms then released the tie in her hair. His fingers plunged deep into its thickness.

She felt him questioning, pausing. He pulled back, his intense blue eyes half closed.

“Cara,” he whispered, “I dream about you.”

Buy link: Amazon

Book 2 in Jarrod series…

One of the supreme joys of writing –for me at least–is stories that write themselves. Jarrod Bancroft and his stern Madam, Macie Fitzgerald, broke onto the printed page that way, and there seems no stopping them. Now, in Book 2 of the series, Valentine’s Day provokes a darker round of self-examination for them both. Snowy weather and blazing sex in this novella of 18,800 words.

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