Summer Zahova is a New Zealand violinist who, at the start of the novel, is in a flat and boring relationship with a handsome man who just won’t be naked enough, dirty enough, or... well... interesting enough for her. He’s embarrassed when she’s naked. He thinks her taste in classical music is incorrect. He’s basically a snob in every way. He exits the story pretty much right upon being introduced, and he’s just one of the people in Summer’s life who doesn’t seem to care about her one way or the other.
On the one hand, Summer’s journey was interesting. At first, sexually (and emotionally) unfulfilled, Summer’s realization that she enjoys the kinkier things in life is well drawn. A series of events conspire to push her past her comfort zone. One, her violin is broken while she is busking (and she’s pretty much broke, so that’s a problem). Two, having left her flat and boring guy, she has no real friends to hang with and hooks up with her friend-from-a-while-back Charlotte, who is definitely more experimental in her sexual appetites. Three, an offer from a stranger to replace her violin in exchange for unstated demands comes to her online.
These three key points set off the novel. Charlotte gets Summer to be daring; Summer needs a new violin; Dominick (the man behind the offer for the violin) replaces said violin if she’s willing to put on a naked performance for him. Dominick is of course incredibly wealthy (inherited; he’s a literature professor) and handsome and – as his name suggests – a dominant. His requests grow bolder, Summer’s desire to please and obey grows stronger, and the two enter an odd relationship.
The first two thirds of the book is taken by this story progression, and I enjoyed the book very much through these points. Summer’s pleasure is very much central to Dominick’s approach, and although he is a dominant and very controlling, their relationship never quite reaches the point where Summer’s submissiveness wipes out her personality or character.
And then the last third of the novel hit, and I started to get frustrated.
Here’s where my own views come into play – I’m so tired of the narratives of submissive women who become completely sublimated by the men around them, especially when the internal dialog of the woman involved doesn’t synch with the events around her. Without spoiling too much, I’ll say that – as in every romantic or erotic relationship story – Summer and Dominick have a falling out. Summer ends up being left somewhat solo in the kinkier side of sexual culture, and Charlotte – who had been something of a friend to Summer – instead turns out to be intensely selfish and just cuts and leaves her to go on alone. Summer’s involvement with the BDSM crowd then completely sours – everyone is out to just use her, and a minor first-act character becomes central in this, attempting to force Summer into a slave role rather than a submissive one.
Summer’s own thoughts are clear enough at the onset of this plot arc: she is a submissive, not a slave. It bothers her. It angers her. And yet she basically folds like a wet rag, and instead of standing up for herself in any way, shape, or form, she capitulates and mentally “goes away” while things are happening to her that she’s not entirely enjoying.
And there I would have given up had this not been a book I was reviewing.
I will say that ultimately, Summer does actually take control of her own destiny, and that was refreshing. It came a bit too late for me to not have a sour taste in my mouth, but it does come. And it could just be my ongoing frustration with the submissive woman character being so incapable of speaking up about what she does not want.
I also got very, very tired of everyone in Summer’s life being so uncaring about her. In the last third of the book, the BDSM culture around her felt creepy, had a constant vibe of usury, and seemed born from the pages of rape culture instead of a network of people who enjoyed dominance and submission. Charlotte flipped too quickly into someone dislikeable, Summer lost the confidence and strength of character that let her leave her boring and flat fellow at the start of the book, and Dominick’s issues for falling out with Summer seemed somewhat laughable, given the scenarios he’d contrived for her.
I liked the first two-thirds of this book enough to suggest it. This book also launches a series, and is very well received. And I did indeed like the final few moments of the book once the Summer I enjoyed from the first of the book reclaimed the parts of her that seemed to mysteriously vanish in the latter third. Perhaps the authors just took me a bit too far afield for Summer, in a kind of “hitting rock bottom” they felt she needed. For me, it went on too long and too low before she bounced back.
Erotically, the book is well written. Summer’s sexuality and her arousal is so keyed into senses that aren’t usually at the forefront – her love of music, most centrally. Dominick spends a lot of time with a slow seduction, with voyeurism and exhibitionism, and a mix of texture and some costumes and role-play tossed in as the book progresses. The sex itself is indeed sexy. And though I got a little frustrated with the rampant disregard for safe sex in the latter third of the story and Summer not even giving it much mind, the scenes are varied and titillating right up until Summer decides she’s not enjoying herself and “zones out.” Obviously, this is not a woman having a good time, and those involved in these moments don’t seem to care – and that truly bothered me.
My concerns, though, are born of that singular thread. If you can handle – or enjoy – the kind of fall of a submissive woman at the hands of a dominant who doesn’t care about her at all (not Dominick, I should clarify), then Eighty Days Yellow will likely delight.
I’ve just finished reading Mistress of Night and Dawn by Vina Jackson. It’s an entertaining read. The story is competently told for the most part and the sex scenes are vivid, relevant and stimulating.
It’s a well-written erotic story that can be read as a standalone or as part of a series. This explanation is from Vina Jackson’s website discussing Mistress of Night and Dawn, as the sixth novel in the Eighty Days series:
Be reassured, the book is as sexy (if not more according to early inner circle readers!) as its predecessors, but we’ve attempted to add another dimension, as well as making it substantially longer. MISTRESS OF NIGHT AND DAWN is still set in the world of EIGHTY DAYS, and actually takes its lead from the chapter in WHITE where Lily is taken to a mysterious ball.
I have to admit that the inclusion of so many phrases in capitals makes me think I’m reading something about conceptual metaphors, but we’ll let that ride.
Mistress of Night and Dawn is an erotic story that introduces us to the central character of Aurelia and Aurelia’s involvement with a centuries old ball. The concept is intriguing and the execution is enjoyable.
“I interrupted you,” he said. “Please continue.”
It took Aurelia a moment to realise what he meant, but once she did, she complied immediately. It felt entirely natural to her that the stranger should sit alongside her as she masturbated. She had fantasised about that very thing almost nightly since the first time that their lips had met and she had tasted the sweetness of his mouth.
Her fingers travelled downwards and resumed their place, but this time it wasn’t enough. She could hear his breathing in the dark and the warmth of his body so close to hers served only to remind her more bitterly that her hand wasn’t his.
“Help me,” she whispered.
I haven’t read any of the previous titles related to this book but, having finished this one, I didn’t feel as though I had missed out on anything vital. The story is a raunchy romp that is completely self-sustained and doesn’t need the other titles to be enjoyed. That said, from what colleagues have told me, Vina Jackson’s stories are not so much continuations on a single story as explorations of the lives of subsidiary characters in the fiction world of Eighty Days and, according to my contacts, they’re equally enjoyable.
This is a well-told story that follows a lovely blend of fantasy and erotica. Aurelia’s journey is a saucy one that showcases a series of exciting intimacies. This title will be appreciated by all those who’ve read Fifty Shades and are now looking for something that similarly satisfies their needs.
He shuffled with his now-hard cock rubbing provocatively against her skin and he adjusted its downward stance, his knee nudging her thighs open and squeezed himself inside her. Aurelia’s heart seized; although she had been ready for him, the sheer bulk of him and the way he stretched her anew was a shock. Had he ever been so large before? He fitted inside her with the forced precision of a jigsaw piece entwining itself with another.
Noises outside the window faded alongside the rest of the whole wide world. Andrei was in her. He was fucking her. She was being fucked. And all was well. There would be another time for questions. She pulled her mental anchor up and drifted with the rhythm of his moments as he embedded himself deeper and deeper within her, spread, open, split, impaled but joyful.