A couple time per decade, someone publishes an adult novel that becomes the talk of the book lovers world. In 2011, E.L. James published 50 Shades Of Grey, then quickly capitalized on the success by churning out two more books to make it a trilogy.
As successful as these ‘erotic books” turned out to be, they also picked up as much criticism from readers and authors as being badly written. A lot of this criticism was without a doubt jealousy for the success this relatively unknown author received. But, in truth, a lot of this criticism was justified. The characters themselves were beyond belief. They not only asked (begged?) the reader to suspend belief, but were amateurish and one dimensional. The plot is full of holes, and even the sex was over the top…and not in any good way. As one reviewer put it, the entire story seemed drawn from a couple of teenaged girls naughty dreams.
Naturally, readers and authors alike wondered how well they could write this type of story – erotica - if they applied even a modicum of true craft to the subject. A natural to tackle this challenge is New York Times Best Selling author, Eric Jerome Dickey. Dickey is no stranger to writing hot, steamy sex scenes into his novels, but he is also a master craftsman, possessing, as if part of his DNA, an ability to craft a novel in practically any genre. Early in his career he was labeled the king of the relationship novel. Later on attempts were made to tag him as a master of “urban” fiction (whatever that is). He has written successfully in the Noir field (Tempted by Trouble ), Romantic Thriller (Chasing Destiny ), Thrillers (Gideon Series ) and a whole host of other genres.
For what should be the hands down erotic novel of the year, in Decadence and it’s ebook only prequel, The Education of Nia Simone Bijou (E-INITIAL) Dickey has revived the main characters from 2008s Pleasure. Decadence takes place four years after the events of Pleasure. Nia is now a successful author who presents a staid persona to her adoring public, but behind the scenes she is expanding on her quest for sensual pleasure. Nia, a self described book worm, had her sexual awakening in college with her first love, Chris Eidos Alleyne, but when Chris dumped Nia for Nia’s roommate and best friend Nia was heartbroken and embarked on a number of sexual affairs. Now determined to learn more about life, about herself and about her humanness and to broaden and discover her own limits she joins an exclusive adult club, Decadence.
Nia is a flawed character, as most humans are. She is sexually hungry for a former lover, Prada, but Prada wants her exclusively an Nia is not ready for an exclusive relationship. She is also drawn in a more romantic way to a man she had a one night stand with, Bret. Bret and Nia have become very good friends but have not repeated that night of sexual bliss and exploration. And Nia feels that Bret is not an ideal mate. He is divorced, and has custody of his two children and besides Bret is a soldier and wouldn’t fit in to Nia’s upper crust world.
Perhaps more than all of that, Nia is also in search of her muse and her literary identity. She has become a successful writer since she left college but most of that financial success has come as a screenwriter in Hollywood, and Nia is not sure she wishes to live in that plastic world with its manufactured celebrity.
What Dickey brings to the erotic novel is the same artistry he brings to his novels in other genre; his characters are full blooded people, they pop from the pages as real as your neighbor, your lover, your fantasies. He also builds a story that is complete in everyway, at once familiar yet original. He imparts a sense of place that will make the scenes play like film in the readers mind and the pace is just perfect. Even the sex scenes, and there are plenty, are some of the best in literature; modern or classic.
Decadence is a novel of a young, talented and beautiful woman's journey of self-discovery, sexual awakening and artistic genesis. In the hands of one of the best story tellers working today, it’s more than an erotic novel and possesses, as does Nia, the ability to cross many lines and blur the borders of genre.
- Hardcover: 368 pages Publisher: Dutton Adult (April 23, 2013) Language: English ISBN-10: 0525953833 ISBN-13: 978-0525953838
Article first published as Book Review: Decadence by Eric Jerome Dickey on Blogcritics.
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