I like my reviews to be well-thought-out. I like getting into why I enjoyed or, sometimes, disliked a book, why other readers should give it a try or, occasionally, a miss. Yet some books stump me. When that happens – not too often, fortunately –, it’s usually because the book took me by surprise, unbalanced me, be it with the story or because of the way it’s written, or how much it made me feel. So it’s usually books I’ve enjoyed but that leave me discombobulated.
As you have probably guessed, that’s what happened with A Taste of Sin.
When we first meet Dez, she’s getting dumped by the gay man she unexpectedly fell in love with. Immediately after, she accidentally finds out that her mother is fighting cancer. Both events bring her back to Miami, where, newly single and heartbroken, she takes up her old habits of meaningless sex. A lot of it. Until she meets her twin brother’s best friend Victoria, who really gets under her skin.
There’s something in this story that reminded me of Choderlos de Laclos’s Les Liaisons dangereuses. Dez’s encounters with countless women should be sexy – Fiona Zedde writes sex brilliantly –, and they are to some extent, but they’re also sordid and sad. Dez’s and her friends’ freedom is an illusion – they’re wealthy enough to not have to work, therefore can play as often and as hard as they wants –, an escape she refuses to see as such, pretending to be content and satisfied.
Victoria on the other hand isn’t fleeing anything. She’s wary of Dez but also very attracted, and tackles that attraction head-on, with wide-open eyes. I love that she’s named Victoria because while I had Les Liaisons dangereuses in mind when reading about Dez, Victoria struck me as… Victorian.
Beyond Dez and Victoria’s story, I loved Zedde’s take on family. I also absolutely loved how the sex is written, how the writing evolves from those joyless pre-Victoria scenes to the scenes with more feelings, and how Zedde writes safe sex into them without it ever feeling contrived.
While I like light and fluffy romances, I also enjoy dark and raw. This fit the bill perfectly.
One last thing: while I’ve never consciously shunned authors of colour (AOC), I’ve come to realise recently that the huge majority of the books I read and review are written by white people. I’ve been content reading the books that came my way, through reviews or suggestions, but that doesn’t feel right. The world isn’t all white, not even mostly white, so why should my books be? So I decided to make more of an effort to get some sort of (probably imperfect) balance. Which means going back to read older books too and explains why, in 2020, I’m reviewing a book first published in 2006. Better late than never, I guess.