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Book Review: Mounting Desire by Nina Killham

Mounting Desire by Nina Killham Book Review: Mounting Desire by Nina Killham

Ive always wondered about the idea of born-again virginity: its a concept that makes me cock my head, pug-like, from side to side as I try to figure out exactly how it works. Reconstructive surgery, promise rings and a very loose definition of the truth, one imagines. Still, whatever the go, its working for Jack Carter, a romance novelist who believes wholeheartedly in saving himself for the one (first marriage and myriad subsequent partners aside). Rather than putting himself out there (or in there, as the case may be), his focus is on knocking Nora Roberts from the top of the romance totem pole, and learning all there is to know about true lurve. You know, the stuff with the submissive virgin and the alpha male with a sensitive side hidden so deep that Long John Silver would struggle to find it.

Still, although living vicariously through his characters (and attending the odd abstainers anonymous meeting) has proven successful in keeping Jacks baser instincts at bay, his new flatmate Molly Desire isnt helping matters. Mollys list of lovers runs longer than the list of credits on a James Cameron film, and she has no qualms about adding to itgiven another few years, Mollys list could be a film in its own right. But not only is Molly muscling in on Jacks space, but shes also got her eyes on his career. Unlike James, Molly doesnt need to hide behind market-appropriate pseudonym, and nor does she have any dreamy ideas about love and romance. This girl makes'Fifty Shades of Grey'look like a series of paint swatches from Dulux.

Needless to say, Molly is the antithesis of all of Jacks moony daydreaming, and his attention is elsewhere, such as on whatever chaste, virginal type (not the born-again kind; the intact-hymen kind) is willing to let him take her out to dinner (its his job to pay, of course) as part of that dating-and-then-marriage ritual hes longed so wildly to be a part of. But theres something about Molly and her frankness that Jack just cant ignore: perhaps its that, unlike his present girlfriend, she doesnt expect him to open car doors for her, and hasnt picked out the exact five carat Tiffanys engagement ring she expects to receive within the year. And then, of course, theres the fact that one of the consequences of Mollys indiscriminate sexual activities is pregnancyand for an intrepid romance novelist, pregnancy is the ultimate happily-ever-after.

With a title like Mounting Desire, the fact that this books just a wee bit naughty isnt much of a surprise. In fact, most everything published by Little Black Dress is all about pastiche, double entendre and the sort of kinky stuff that Harlequin wouldnt touch with a long leather whip. In fact, the novels an unapologetic take-off of the category romance genre, and quite happily subverts all the traditional themes and elements found in these novels. Theres the precocious child, whose skills lie not in tests and exams, but rather in her ability to act out everything from the sealed section of Cosmo.'Theres the dithery senior citizen mother, but rather than sipping martinis and watching Dynasty, shes all about seducing the only eligible codger at her nursing home. Theres the sister who should be happily married, but whos instead thinking about resorting to electro-shock therapy to give her love life back its spark. And then, of course, theres Jack, whos doing all the right things to woo his virgin, only everything he does is so terribly, hilariously wrong.

There are, as youve no doubt realised by now, all manner of disparate narratives going on, and some, invariably, are more effective than others. The large number of POV characters does make the novel feel a little slow-moving at times, but these secondary scenes are largely rescued by Killhams endlessly humorous approach. However, the one thing that continues to bother me is whether theres'meant'to be any chemistry between Jack and Molly, because the ending is very much a pragmatic one.'I do wonder whether this is partly a tongue-in-cheek parody of the typical romance ending, where hero and heroine suddenly set aside their differences, marry in the garden, and announce the next day that theyre expecting twins, but even so, goodness, all I can say is that I rather hope that Jacks novels are better plotted than his life.

In all, this ones a chortle-inducing read that takes no prisoners in its efforts to skewer the category romance scene and upend any enduring notions readers might have about old-fashioned true love. Its also not for the easily offended, so if you find frank discussions of sex and sexuality squirm-inducing, you may want to head of to Mills & Boon instead.

Rating: star Book Review: Mounting Desire by Nina Killhamstar Book Review: Mounting Desire by Nina Killhamstar Book Review: Mounting Desire by Nina Killhamblankstar Book Review: Mounting Desire by Nina Killhamblankstar Book Review: Mounting Desire by Nina Killham (good)

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