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Thursday, November 5, 2015

ARC Review: The Exhibitionist by Tara Sue Me

The Exhibitionist is the 6th book in the submissive series and the 2nd book I've read in the series. I also read the immediate preceding novel "The Collar." Just by way of background I really enjoyed "The Collar" and recommend that you read it. This author is very talented and knows her way around erotica very well. That being said, there was one very prominent problem with this installment in the series- there was almost no conflict whatsoever. I'll explain.

This book is about Nathaniel and Abigail. Both of these characters have appeared in previous novels in this series. In fact the story of Abigail and Nathaniel meeting and getting together are the first four out of the six novels in this series (I haven't yet read those yet). I assume that the first four books depicting Abigail and Nathaniel getting together read more like a traditional romance with a chase, the couple getting together, some major conflict and the couple reuniting. That's pretty much the romance formula right? Well as much as we see that formula repeated, it's what we love and expect in our romance novels, even the BDSM erotic novels. But there is none of that in this book. The couple is already married with two children. They've already endured all of the initial couple conflicts (four books worth apparently) and they've been married for like 10 years. So this book is really just about the day to day life of a married couple who have a master-slave side to their relationship and are members of a large kink club.

I think what the author was trying to do was build a conflict around the fact that for the first time in their relationship Abby is discovering and exploring her need for public sex play. Even though Nathaniel is on board with giving Abigail what she wants, it makes him insecure that she gets off on other men watching her and he starts to wonder if it might be more than just wanting to be watched. For Abby's part, she is insecure about one of Nathaniel's employees and Nathaniel doesn't handle the insecurity well. Those were interesting sources of conflict but the problem is that they take up almost no pages in the book. The total amount of time spent on those conflicts is probably about 20-30 pages of the entire book and most of those pages don't appear until after the 70% mark of the book. So that means this is an entire novel about the everyday lives of a married couple with some very well depicted, tantalizing kinky sex interspersed in the pages.

I'm not exaggerating about the sex scenes, they are really really well done. The sex scenes basically carry the book because there just isn't much else going on in terms of the romance in the book. The non-sex scenes are about the business aspects of the "play group" that the couple are a part of. The business of the group is depicted in great detail with a lot of information about new security protocols the group is putting in place to increase safety for the players. I found that information to be really mundane and frankly boring. It didn't do anything for me in terms of giving me the romance I was craving from the book and it didn't infuse any excitement in to the story line. There is also a lot of detail given about some of the other club members and their stories. That's ok if you've read some of the other books and are interested in following up on some of the characters. For me, I don't really want that much information about non-main characters.

The question I kept asking myself as I was reading this book was 'what is this book about?' The only answer I could come up with is that it's about Nathaniel and Abigail's marriage and I just don't know if that's an actual plot that can hold a reader's attention. I appreciate Tara's adeptness at erotic writing so much that I still feel like it was worthwhile for me to read this book but I think there's potential for you to be disappointed by the lack of a clear plot. I think I would recommend reading the first 4 books in the series before you read this one. I think I would've gotten more out of this installment if I was already invested in the relationship between Nathaniel and Abigail.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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