by Rusty Wicks, contemporary (2007)
Liquid Silver Books, $4.90, ISBN 978-1-59578-371-4

Timing tells the story of Tom and Lisa who would have been the perfect couple were not for the fact that she is faking her orgasms and is becoming increasingly unhappy with the lack of fireworks happening to her when it comes to their bedroom activities. Trouble looms over the horizon when Lisa has a new colleague, John Maxwell, who looks increasingly attractive in her eyes the more unhappy she is when it comes to sex with Tom. What will happen when John invites her and Tom to his beach home over the weekend, especially when it's clear to her and John what he is really interested in?

This story is... uncomfortable, in a way, because of how real Ms Wicks approaches the subject matter. Lisa becomes increasingly frustrated, as she should be, not only because the man she adores can't get her off even with his hands but also because he's so eager to please. How do you deal with someone who keeps telling you how good it feels to be having sex with you when you are just pretending to be as happy as he is? At first she is worried that it will break his heart if he knows but she eventually ends up pretending only to get things over with so that she doesn't have to deal with his "Did I make you come? Did I? Did I?" puppy-faced Q&A after the deed is done. As she thinks to herself when he asks her that one time whether it was something else, "Yeah, it was something else. Something else thatís left me horny and sad all over again ó not exactly the effect I think you were hoping for, Tom." Ouch. This is indeed awkward and sad to read because Ms Wicks' portrayal of Lisa's thoughts is pretty realistic indeed.

Timing is more women's fiction than romance if we want to classify it as something because this story deals with Lisa trying to determine what the "right" thing to do is rather than a romance story of sweetness and sunshine. Tom is from all appearances a perfect catch - she likes him, he's gorgeous, he has a stable career, and he adores her. Is it "terribly selfish and immature", as Lisa puts it, to resent him for his inability to give her an orgasm and his turning sex into something she's come to dread? And oh god, he wants to do it all the time...

At this point, I don't blame Lisa for being attracted to John even as she's determined not to betray Tom, because Tom is really not doing anything for her where it counts and John represents an attractive "But what if he could do that to me?" fantasy.

The resolution to this story is actually quite unorthodox, let's just say, given how well the author lays out poor Lisa's blues but given the length of this story I don't think the author can do much else. However, I find this aspect of the story jarring because the author springs it on me without a warning. The story seems to be building up to be a more realistic (for the want of a better word) type of story with well-drawn emotional issues so I am taken aback when the author springs on me a resolution that is more of a sexually explicit Hallmark thing. But I suppose that ending is more attractive than a trip to the nearest sex therapist.

Nonetheless, Timing is a most memorable read with a sympathetic and well-drawn heroine, although I've better warn readers that the story turns out to be more like the movie Shortbus than the first dozen or so pages would lead them to believe.

Rating: 86

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