Thursday, January 3, 2013

Review: Two in the Bush

Two in the Bush
Two in the Bush by Giselle Renarde

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love the concept of Giselle Renarde's Wedding Heat series -- horny guests taking advantage of a wedding to get together in a variety of inventive ways. She's written that she thinks of it the way she would a TV show, so the installments are written in "seasons." I think this is a nice way to take a technique that works on film and apply it to the written word.

Meta-comments aside, "Two in the Bush" was a very hot read -- one of the sexiest stories I've encountered in a while. At its core is an M/F/F menage with hints of a D/s power dynamic (though there's nothing explicitly BDSM). This story absolutely passed the arousal test for me, and surprisingly so. These days, I read so much erotica that not all of it actually gets me. In this case, I was drawn in by inventive actions and positions and that little hint of domination.

That said, I also believe in evaluating a work of erotica on the merits of its writing (somewhat objective), not just how much it turned me on (which obviously includes a heavily subjective element). I don't think "Two in the Bush" is intended as a high literary work, but it's well-written in a number of ways. Renarde's base plot is, in essence, a sweet love story. Her concept and execution, however, turn common assumptions about that archetype on its head. This alone provides a refreshing turn to the story.

The sex is fresh and varied, not routine or formulaic. Following what she does with the plot, Renarde expertly toys with common themes, utilizing them while adding her own twist. The language surprised me at times, with some unusual word choices providing vivid imagery and deeper characterization.

Renarde also writes dirty talk very well -- arousing and realistic, but avoiding some of the cheesiness it's all too easy to fall into. In "Two in the Bush," the dirty talk is important to the characters as well as to the heat of the scene, because it proves to be transformative for one, if not both, of the base couple. I'm referring to a bit of subtext here, but I think that the character responsible for most of the dirty talk uses that language to make the other characters look at themselves in a different way.

I think that, aside from arousal, the best reason to write out a sex scene rather than hint at it is to show characterization. Renarde's main character, Irene, is well drawn throughout the story, but the main characterization for the other two comes through the sex. The view of how they behave in the bedroom is the main vehicle for discovering who these people are. That works.

There's also a touch of politics here. Renarde's portrayal of Irene's body shape and image provides a strong affirmation of the beauty of plus-sized women.

I will absolutely read more in this series.

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