Welcome to Exotica. Leave your inhibitions at the door
Lilli DeForrest is hoping for a week of pampering and relaxation, but when the beautiful Rajan steps into her suite, the attraction is immediate. Rajan is her ideal lover: tender, commanding and intensely erotic.
But, as Lilli is about to discover, his masterful touch is just the beginning.
The two linked novellas in this book have a split personality that threw me for a loop.
First, the Kama Sutra half. Exotica is a luxury resort where your room is more like a castle (or pirate ship, or Casablanca) and comes complete with a man to pleasure you in every which way. You stay for a week while he makes your erotic fantasies – both those you know of and those you don’t – into reality. Lilli is set up with a week’s stay by her college friend Caroline, the manager of the resort. After a nasty divorce Lilli needs some cheering up (and opening up) and Rajan, one of the Kama Sutra lovers, is at her service.
There are little bits of genius in here. Setting the resort in Palm Springs’ heat means it’s reasonable to be naked all the time. The men work on generous rotations with two months off at a time, allowing for thorough health checks. “Condoms break the fantasy far too easily,” Caroline says, and we’re freed of STD/birth control guilt in one fell swoop.
Lilli heads to the private Kama Sutra area and gets it on with Rajan who, of course, falls in love with her. Instalove usually bothers me but I can forgive it here because A) novellas are short and B) holy cow the sex is hot. A week of fantasy leads to an unpleasant reentry into real life, and Rajan has to decide if he’d rather chase his dream or his girl.
This is the happy awesome half – I could read fifteen stories in this vein and be totally happy.
Caroline, the manager of the club, needs some opening up of her own. She also has a troubled romantic past but it’s left her scarred and reluctant to jump into bed. What better than telling the new guy, Kian, that she auditions all the hires personally?
Troublesome in the extreme, but Kian doesn’t believe a word of it (and is at the resort on false pretenses himself) so more guilt absolved. He agrees to the arrangement because he loves women and Caroline looks like an interesting nut to crack. Not as great as the first story, but I’m mostly okay with this.
Until they get into bed. Caroline is obviously fighting demons, turned on but still flinching from Kian’s touch. So what’s his solution? To bind her spread eagle to the bed. WHAT.
I was seeing red from all the danger flags flying in my brain. He is taking someone with issues and instead of talking through them or even figuring out what’s going on he makes her as vulnerable as possible. That could almost break someone. It’s domination without power exchange, which basically equals being an asshole. BDSM is never brought up, but Caroline finds that she likes having her agency and personality and choice taken away… I mean, being “dominated”.
“I’m going to fuck you so hard, Caroline. And you will never be able to deny me anything. Do you understand?”
This bothers me so much. The underlying assumption is “if she likes it despite herself and gets off it’s fine” but it’s not. It’s really not.
Then there are passages that just made no sense. While looking out at a sunset Kian says,
“‘Even the boats on the water remind me of the Impressionists. That white against the blue, the way the sun lights the ocean with pink and gold.’
She’d never met another man who talked to her in terms of art, someone who understood her on that level.”
What the hell does that mean?
I couldn’t enjoy the rest of the book because I was worried for Caroline’s safety – there’s a scene with Kian yelling at her while rattling the gate to her house that had me thinking, call the police! Get a restraining order! You don’t need him! Downright scary.
The second story was a big disappointment after loving the first one so much. Looking back as a whole there’s also some sheik-esque issues I could dive into (white woman seeks exotic lover, which equals a rich, foreign, darker skinned, and dominating man) but I need to wrap my brain around it first. Read the first half of the book for some hot erotica but do yourself a favor and stay the hell away from Kian. ~shivers~