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Book CoverLynne C‘s review of Ripping the Bodice by Inara Lavey
Contemporary erotic romance eBook released by Ravenous Romance 7 Feb 09

This is a curate’s egg of a book, and I feel so sorry for the writer, because this book could have been really good, but the lack of proper editing turned it into a bit of a mess.

Lavey has a nice voice, and her turn of phrase is delightful. That’s the good and it really is good. 

The book started way too early. The heroine is dumped by her boyfriend, who we never hear from again, and there is a long description about her conversation with an eccentric customer, who is briefly referred to a couple of times, but that story doesn’t go anywhere. A good editor would have had her cut these parts and start where she arrives at the resort and meets the hero.

There were also some other parts which would have been a lot better cut. The heroine goes on a giant spending spree, and buys a lot of stuff. With her job, that kind of spending would have put her into serious debt, although the author does mention that she has some savings. Then she gets back, and dumps the lot on the floor, as if she didn’t care, instead of gloating. And she only gets to wear one of her new outfits. Buying one new outfit would have been much better. Or maybe there should have been some point to it, but her sexy new underwear doesn’t seem to have been noticed by anyone, least of all the two male leads. Since she got no pleasure from her spending spree, and the hero didn’t care what she wore, there didn’t seem to be much point.

The first person parts were the best part of the book, and read very much like “Bridget Jones.” Only chick-lit is dead, right? So don’t market it as that, just say it’s something else. We even have the shopping scene, although by the standards of an erotic romance publisher, there is remarkably little sex. Not that I’m complaining, in fact less sex would have been better. At the start the only points of view are hers and the novel pastiches, told in the third person. Then the hero enters, and all of a sudden we get his pov, told in the third person too. Since this happens some way into the book, the suddenness of it was a bit of a surprise, and jolted me right out of the story.

The heroine spends her life dreaming over old romance novels. I did feel a little uncomfortable about this, because the whole emphasis is on how bad these novels were. There are numerous pastiches scattered throughout the book, and while one or two were very well done, others missed the mark (a 1960’s vintage air hostess category romance, for instance, would never have contained the word “clitoris”). But these books sold in their hundreds of thousands, so doesn’t that make fun of all the readers?

Anyway, the heroine, Cassandra, is engaging at first, but eventually her addiction to said romance novels and her refusal to accept the truth – that the Other Man is the right one for her, not the one whose looks attract her – make her a little TSTL by the end. She is supposed to be a bright cookie, and her first person narration shows her as such, but she behaves like a complete idiot. She is a klutz – it wouldn’t be the first klutz heroine, but I found that trait vaguely annoying. She refuses to accept what is right under her nose, and that was more than annoying.

The hero – he’s Irish, and his brogue was described in great detail, but thankfully wasn’t a cod-Irishman. But I didn’t learn much more about him. Despite Lavey giving him his own voice, it was flat and not much was conveyed about him.

The language was uneven. All through the book, the tone and style was of a light comedy, but in the last half-dozen pages, we are suddenly plunged into the erotic with a little bit of light bondage. The restraint part was hinted at earlier, but it seemed unnecessary, as the heroine was doing fine without it. And the language suddenly became all-out erotic. It didn’t work with the earlier voice. It didn’t gel, almost as if someone else had written that part. I would have preferred a final lovemaking scene in keeping with the rest of the story.

There was no significant build of sexual tension – there is a torrid kiss on the beach, when he brings her to orgasm, and another in her room, and they were nicely described, and this was when I began to get irritated with Cassandra because she still hankered after the wrong man.

There were redundant characters as well as scenes. A romantic novelist shows up, but doesn’t have much to do until she advises the hero and heroine at the end. The deux ex machina in action. There is a bitch character who seems to only appear when the author needs someone to snark at, but she is never fleshed out and I never saw her as anything but an Aunt Sally.

In conclusion, I’d say I really like Inara Lavey’s voice, but as a beginning author, she desperately needs a good editor, or a strong critique group, one that will regulate the redundant characters, scenes that go nowhere and misunderstandings that go on too long. If this book had been tightened up and the voice remained consistent, it would have been a great read instead of a frustrating one.

I do look forward to seeing Lavey develop her work and voice more confidently, but this one I have to give a…

lynnec.jpgGrade: D


Got sex and romance on the brain? So does Cassandra Devon. She also has hard-boiled private eyes, dashing pirates, jet-setting super spies and other sexy rogues entertaining her in her surprisingly explicit subconscious. All these erotic daydreams make it hard to stay focused on Cassandra’s current dilemma: namely, rebuffing the advances of Connor, a wild Irish rascal who wants to play the starring role in her fantasies. Cassandra is only interested in getting together with Raphael, the tall, dark and handsome man of her dreams. May the best romance hero win!

Read an excerpt.