Brad De Luca is incorrigible. The premier divorce attorney in town, he is a forty-year old walking hunk of sex, bedding half the town, including his own clients. Brad is used to getting whatever, and whomever, he wants, and when the newest intern arrives – Julia Campbell, a pre-law student fresh off a failed engagement – he embraces the challenge. Only, happy in her new independence, the last thing Julia wants, or needs, is an older man who could destroy her job prospects, and possibly her innocence.
Julia is confident in her sexuality, and her effect on men. But she is far out of her league. Before she knows it, Brad is stretching her boundaries and opening up a forbidden world of sensual and sexual exploration.
“What if what we’re looking for is each other?”
Once in a while a book comes along that doesn’t just present a nice little HEA story but pushes me to think, reconsider, dwell on certain topics, and this was definitely the book that did that for me. It made me take stock of all that I believe constitutes a healthy relationship and shone light on a whole other world of possibilities that never even entered my mind. I can’t say I was ‘converted’ into anything, but I enjoyed immensely the mind-stretch and how it fed my forever-voracious curiosity.
Julia is a twenty-one year old college student whose sexual history is both limited as well as bleak. She has had two rather unsatisfying relationships in her life but she realises now that she has never actually been in love. She goes on random dates, loves the chase, the tease and the high she gets from seeing sexual hunger directed at her in a man’s eyes, but she never goes through with the act itself. She likes the control she gets from just being able to set the pace and eventually say no.
“The fire in his eyes does a little and he looked at me with intense yearning. Right there, that is what I want to see.”
Brad is a partner at the law firm where Julia interns and he comes with flashing warning lights attached to his womanizing reputation. They meet and chemistry kicks in. The attraction she feels towards Brad is magnetic, she is drawn to him like she has never been drawn to another man before and she is unable to control the pull.
“It was as if every ounce of extra air left the room in that instant, squeezing all of the space out with it and putting me front and center in his laser beam. Damn. We locked eyes, and neither one of us moved. … I felt his … essence. It scared the crap out of me.”
What initially starts as a sexy little game of cat and mouse, quickly develops into a battle of fundamental views on what constitutes a sexual relationship and what, if any, feelings should be attached to the act itself. While for Julia love and sex go hand-in-hand, Brad believes that requiring love to be attached to sex is a fruitless exercise, often resulting in years of sexual deprivation while in search of the illusive ‘One’. Brad is unapologetic about the lifestyle he leads. He does not want any misplaced expectations from Julia or anyone he sleeps with. He knows what he likes and wants and he shamelessly goes for it.
“I live the life, Julia, the life I chose for myself. The women, the parties, the power, the money. It is everything I always wanted.”
Brad’s views on sex go against everything that Julia has known so far to be true. He opens her mind, makes her reconsider her beliefs, find what she feels comfortable believing in, and he helps her redefine her sexuality to herself. She never loses control, one way or another, every choice she makes, every sexual act she participates in is her own decision. Brad in no way converts her into his lifestyle, he merely opens the door for her to the endless possibilities in front of her, allowing her to pick the one she is most comfortable and sexually satisfied with.
“Society has this hang up with the idea that women are losing a part of themselves every time they f*ck, and it is bullsh*t. So a man can be with twenty different women and have a normal, healthy self-esteem, but a woman sleeps around and she is emotionally destroyed? Women attach feelings to sex because society tells them to. They think that they should feel for a guy before sleeping with them so they manufacture a relationship or emotions and that only screws them up later on. … The act of sex is healthy, normal, God-given. It’s the emotions and entitlement that everyone attaches to it that is harmful.”
This book explores concepts of monogamy, sexuality, sexual experimentation, and innate dispositions. I never felt that it preached anything one way or another, it presented two conflicting views on everything sexually-related, and it reconciled them for the two given characters, not for the readers themselves. It simply offers another way of perceiving the sexual act, free from emotions and aimed entirely at satisfying the flesh. It also shows that not all relationships fit a given mould, that we are not all the same, that we have different sexual appetites, orientations, outlooks, preferences, and that there is no right or wrong one way or another. Only what is right for the given person.
I can’t say this book knocked my socks off but it definitely tantalised my senses, made me ponder on my own preferences and engaged my little grey cells more than I expected a romantic novel to do on any given day. I wish the characters were a little bit more developed as some of their decisions in the end felt sudden and random, I wish we got to see more facets of their personalities and more layers to who they really are. I only have one small objection about this book and that is one sentence half way through the book – “My inner goddess rolled her eyes at me.” As much as I love my Fifty Shades of Grey, the “inner goddess” references were the weak link for me. Otherwise, this is a very pleasant, somewhat confronting read about what society tells us relationships should be like and what is ultimately our own view on them. I guess romance does come in all sorts of shades of grey…