Madeleine Taylor’s first book, The Good Girl, was a surprisingly tender erotic romance, hot and well-written. Part of the appeal was MC Emily’s ingenuity and the contrast with the mysterious woman she met at a hotel bar. I wouldn’t say Valerie, in whose point of view Online is told, is as naive but she’s nevertheless much less experienced than Syd, the woman from her online book club she fantasises about.
Valerie, a Los Angeles straight (as far as she knows) divorcee, joined a lesbian erotica online book club after buying her first lesbian erotic novel by mistake. She loved it and has kept buying more since. She figures her crush on Syd, another member of the club living in Quebec, is harmless, until Syd suggests they start chatting more privately. Chatting being an entirely inaccurate word for what they do. Val soon realises that, as much as she relishes being in control as a top financial executive, she delights in being a submissive in the bedroom just as much.
While I enjoyed this second novella tremendously, it lacks the sense of novelty the previous one had. Maybe The Good Girl had me set my expectations too high but it felt at times as if Online was trying a tad too hard. That said, it’s as deliciously written as the first novella was and delves deeper into the exploration of one’s sexuality. Both MCs are multilayered and sexy, each in her own way; the only real secondary character, Ellen, Val’s best friend, is a breath of fresh air and brings just the right amount of levity into the situation to allow Val to talk about the changes her life is going through without feeling judged, at the same time giving the reader further insight. Once again, the characters are taken by surprise by their own feelings and what was supposed to be a bit of fun – or, rather, extremely hot sex – morphs unexpectedly (to them) into a whole lot more. Madeleine Taylor is extremely good at making this turn of events sound plausible when it could seem artificial, and the novella format fits perfectly. With this second book, Madeleine Taylor is now firmly set on my must-read-authors list.