Ellora’s Cave, $4.45, ISBN 1-84360-590-2
Contemporary Erotica, 2001
The Obsession starts out pretty awful, but soon picks up steam along the way. The premise doesn’t sound promising: conservative, fuddy-wuddy Maths lecturer Neil Ross is about to marry equally fuddy-wuddy Margaret when he sees Valentina Jason-Elliot in a Calvin Klein store, wearing a sexy slip of a dress.
Neil, Margaret, Valentina are all caricatures, and the descriptions of Neil’s reaction to Val, including some embarrassing boxer shorts accident, is pretty over-the-top. Then Margaret dumps Neil, and I actually go “Heh heh heh, so much for Other Women stereotypes.” I sit up and become more awake from that moment.
The sex is hot, yes, but more interesting is how Neil starts trying to be “interesting” and how Valentina tries to reconcile this predatory, territorial Neil with the fuddy-wuddy stereotype of a Math geek.
In a way, this “erotic romance” is pretty down-to-earth with minimum subplots. Just sex, with just enough interaction between the two to make the happily-ever-after convincing. The prose can be a bit on the unpolished side, and the author should try relying less on caricatures and stereotypes to carry her story, but all in all, The Obsession is a pretty satisfying read.