Bonkbuster with a shade more colour than Grey
Published 13/01/2013 | 06:00
With its subtle cover, BDSM storyline and brooding antihero, Evie Hunter's The Pleasures of Winter invites obvious comparison to a certain erotic 'thrill-ogy'.
And the press release for the bonkbuster – co-written under a pen name by Caroline McCall and Eileen Gormley, two married Irish women who met at a writing workshop in UCD – makes no bones about it: this is "an Irish Fifty Shades of Grey".
As it turns out, any comparison to EL James's juggernaut is unjustified.
The Pleasures of Winter is, in fact, a whole heap better.
While Fifty took over a 100 pages to hot up, Pleasures gets off to a breathless start with young reporter Abbie Marshall racing through a Honduran airport.
With the drug cartel she's been investigating hot on her heels, the journalist escapes on the private jet of Hollywood bad-boy Jack Winter from Dublin – think a sex-tape-era Colin Farrell.
Needless to say, sparks fly – not least when their plane crash-lands in the jungle after the pilot has a heart attack. But it's not the mosquitos, wild cats or poisonous snakes that prove the biggest threat to Abbie – it's kinkmaster Jack. In a 'Me Tarzan, you Jane' moment, he drags Abbie into a cave and throws her over his knee after she disobeys one of his orders – an act that clearly isn't consensual.
Back home in the Big Apple, confused Abbie decides to explore her newly awoken submissive tendencies.
Conveniently, though not altogether unbelievably, she ends up being mentored by Jack on a BDSM website.
Cue a series of steamy-but-not-scary sex scenes involving feathers, flails and blindfolds.
As a beginner's guide to BDSM, Pleasures flogs Fifty. For one thing, it's clear that Jack and Abbie have embarked on a Dom/Sub relationship without being bored to tears by their contract.
Not that the characters are perfect. There are times when Jack is so downright rude that you wonder why Abbie doesn't just walk and find another handsome Dom with a playroom to explore.
And as a worldly reporter, at 27, Abbie does seem a little green around the gills in the bedroom.
Throughout the story, we know that Jack harbours a dark secret to do with his sexual proclivities in his past.
So when it finally hits the headlines towards the end, naturally he blames newshound Abbie. This time, she doesn't take it lying down.
Just like disciplinarian Jack seducing Abbie, the book leaves readers yearning for more.
If you're already hooked on the other Christian and Anastasia, a follow-up short story, A Touch of Winter, is available on Amazon Kindle.
In the meantime, for fans of the genre, The Pleasures of Winter is a thrashing good read.