I do believe this marks my first time reviewing erotica on this blog. (I regret that I never got around to reviewing the comedy extravaganza known as 50 Shades of Grey. Maybe one day.)
Mallory Dale is an uptight twenty-something living with her successful boyfriend, Alec, in NYC. She works at a top law firm in the city, but since she failed her bar exam, she’s still stuck putting in long hours doing all the boring legwork for big cases. Her journalist boyfriend, on the other hand, works for a well-connected playboy. For her twenty-fifth birthday, Alec takes Mallory to a place he encountered through his work: a trendy burlesque club called Blue Angel. She’s mortified but ultimately agrees to sit through the performance. By the end of that fateful evening, she’s intrigued.
Since Alec’s latest big story is about NYC burlesque culture, he ends up taking Mallory back to the Blue Angel for a follow-up interview with the club’s biggest star, Bette Noir. From there, an unlikely friendship begins to form between Mallory and Bette Noir; Mallory is drawn to Bette’s life and the performance aspect of burlesque. The more she’s drawn into Bette’s world, the more her own life starts to unravel. Her relationship with Alec was already starting to feel strained well before she ever met Bette Noir, and lately, she’s also started feeling unfulfilled at work. But even with so much at stake, Bette Noir and the world of burlesque have an undeniable allure.
I was of two minds over this book. On one hand, it’s a quick escapist read. Sometimes the characters were whiny, but the book was still entertaining and I loved Bette Noir. I don’t know if I’d categorize it as erotic romance erotica or just straight up erotica — yes, there’s a difference, and a case could be made for this book in both directions — but I loved that the concept for this book was centered on burlesque culture.
On the other hand, a lot of the sex scenes felt…gratuitous? (I know, I know. Gratuitous sex in erotica. Who would’ve thought?!) No, but really. I’m all for whatever kinds of sex scenes you wanna throw at me, but half the sex in this book — and there is plenty of it (male/female, male/male, female/female, threesomes) — felt like it was just thrown in there for the sake of being thrown in there, not necessarily because they have anything to do with Mallory’s burlesque adventures. Also, the aforementioned sex scenarios are actually pretty tame as far as erotica goes. It is, at heart, a romance novel with erotic scenes in it. So. Make of all of that what you will.
Blue Angel is the first book in the Blue Angel trilogy. It was published in May 2011 by Aphrodisia, an imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp.