Debut author Brenton pens a contemporary romance novella about true love based on oral sex and heroic rescues.
Marianna Holt is a self-obsessed, promising young associate from Harvard Law School, sashaying her way through the trenches at an elite New York firm. She’s so beautiful that she’s sexually harassed by both the mail guy and her boss, who see her only as a stack of “pert breasts” that they want to strip naked. (No one in the story appears to notice or comment on the fact that she could take these men to court.) Marianna thinks she’s about to get engaged to her enviable boyfriend, until she discovers that he’s actually a sexual pervert with a donkey fetish, at which point she dumps him. Lost in a sea of broken hearts, Marianna then does her best to restore herself by shacking up with her friend Screech, who gives her constant oral sex, no matter the venue. When a work trip forces her to abandon Screech to live in Rhode Island, Marianna continues to look for love with a longshoreman named Larry, whose large paunch and aversion to anal sex make him a poor fit for materialistic Marianna. It’s unclear whether this novel is a spoof or a serious attempt at a romance, but either way, it struggles to deliver. The clichéd dialogue is often redundant and melodramatic, and the unsympathetic heroine is not only arrogant, but also unapologetically racist, as evidenced when she watches the daring rescue of a drowning young boy. As he’s being fished out of the water, she notes that he’s worth saving because he’s good-looking, the son of the mayor and white. Shock-value sexual references run rampant throughout the text, often replacing actual conflict, plot or character development. Characters tend to be one-dimensional, with that dimension generally revolving around a strange sexual proclivity or obsession. Dated cultural references don’t help.
Not much to love in this Manhattan tale of hungry hearts.