At the DFW Writer's Conference last weekend, I attended a class titled "How to Write a Love Scene" taught by BDSM romance writer Roni Loren. It was an interesting class, though I'm not sure I learned anything I didn't know already, which was a common reaction to the craft centric classes I attended. I admit, that sounds a little arrogant coming from an unpublished writer. But, by this point, much of the information I heard is information I've heard before. But, it doesn't hurt to be reminded, or to hear it in a different way. Before I get into this review, you need to know two things. One, I didn't read Fifty Shades of Gray. I wasn't interested in reading a poorly written novel about a subject I had no interest in (BDSM). Two, I know nothing whatsoever about BDSM. So, why did I decide to read Fall into You? Curiosity about how Loren wrote the sex scenes, pure and simple. I've written my fair share of sex scenes (though no BDSM because, see above) though none make it into my novels, at least not the detailed ones. I'm more of a pan to the fluttering curtain or crashing waves kind of love scene writer. There are only so many ways you can describe the emotional and physical reactions of desire. Most of the time, it comes across as either cheesy or stilted. Plus, the reader's imagination is usually much better. Writing a good sex scene takes a great amount of skill which thankfully, Loren has. The scenes in Fall into You were well written and, besides a few repetitive descriptions of darkening eyes and Charli's private parts, unique. They were equal parts titillating and cringe inducing.
I suppose complaining about lack of plot in a BDSM novel is like complaining about the lack of plot in a porn movie. You aren't reading for deep characterization or complex plot. What plot there is in Fall into You is there to service the sex scenes. At least 2/3 of the book is sex, and 1/3 is plot. And, the plot is lame. Okay, it's beyond lame. Loren's characterization of Charli was good, but she left a pretty gaping hole in Grant's back story, namely how did he get into BDSM and where did he get all of his money? This is the third book in the series, but I gather from other reviews Grant has been a secondary character in the previous two. This is his spotlight, how he got into the lifestyle should have been mentioned.
I do have to knock Loren for some of her dialogue. Most of it was good, then there would be a clunker of a line dropped in. No, I don't mean the dialogue during the sex scenes. I don't think there is any way for those lines to not be cheesy and cringe inducing. Is it even possible to be eloquent during sex? I don't think so. The best example that comes to mind is when Charli says Grant was 'scrambling her gray matter' or something of the sort, meaning her mind. No one says that in dialogue. "Blowing my mind," yes. The worst was when Charli called Grant 'cowboy.' I mean, just no. Every time Grant called Charli 'freckles' I thought of Lost. Unnatural dialogue like that jolts the reader out of the scene.
Will I read another of Loren's novels? If someone hands me one I will, but I won't seek it out. Will I read another BDSM novel? Sure, if it had more story outside of the sex and deeper characterization. I have decided to read Fifty Shades of Gray to compare the two, but not for a couple of weeks. It's time to see if exposure to this genre has ruined me for fluffy, vanilla romance.
Side Note: This is the first novel I've ever read that had a "Mature Audience" warning on the back. Is this common for the BDSM genre?