Author: Emily Snow
Publisher: Emily Snow Books
New year, same genres. The wave of Kindle porn keeps insistently rolling on. That would be just dandy, if the porn was actually any good. Will there ever be a decent, balanced erotic novel with good vibes and wholesome messages? Let’s see.
One of the most recent contenders is Tidal by Emily Snow, which has apparently sold many copies. I’m not surprised. Erotica does that.
This time around, young actress Willow (who apparently has brown hair but who I just see as Lindsay Lohan) has just been released from rehab and is offered the lead part in a remake of a surfing film. It seems that sports where you fall over a lot are a great place to get some hot sex, because Willow has handsome devil Cooper as her coach. The obvious happens.
It’s a hastily-written book with the expected structural and linguistic issues. Throughout the book it is obvious that Snow cannot decide on her target audience. She liberally peppers speech with swearing (which, instead of causing shock or impact, comes off as childish). Irritatingly, she props up her story with near-constant references to popular culture, which instead of supporting the narrative comes across as Snow trying to shoe in some relevance to today’s young adults. It is a very lazy tactic.
Initially, though, Snow’s writing is all right. Her lead Willow is believably damaged and vulnerable. In particular, the way in which she is used by her jet-setting parents as a source of income is sadly credible and those moments are genuinely very moving. If Snow was just to focus on the way Willow rebuilt herself and her confidence, I would be on board with it. I found myself hoping for that.
And as far as the erotica goes, it’s a lot more realistic that 90% of the market. Cooper actually uses a condom (I could have high-fived Snow for putting that in). Snow writes sex well, if a little tamely.
But those brief sparks of decent writing stand out like sore thumbs, because the rest of the book is awash with misogyny. Cooper is a nasty piece of work for a character who is meant to be a romantic lead. He repeatedly enters her personal space when she is unwilling to have him there – he drops by her beach house after she has specifically told him she wants to go to bed (rampant consent issues right here). He calls her “Wils,” a nickname she hates, even after she asks him not to. Disturbingly, he tells her that she is unable to get away from him because she needs his help to train for her film. Essentially, Cooper is an attempt to copy the cold, intense personality of Stephenie Meyer’s Edward Cullen, but comes across as manipulative, cruel. For someone who is meant to be a desirable human rather than a supernatural being, Cooper is a frighteningly unforgiving bully. It’s terrifying. Willow is a broken woman with two stays in rehab to her name and she gets this soul-destroying brute as her love interest?
Only one thing tops Cooper’s awfulness. His even more loathsome friend Eric greets Willow by telling her he masturbated to her music videos. And he’s meant to be a comic character. Er.
Willow’s responses at these points are troubling too. She claims she hates Cooper (rightly so) but in the same sentence reveals how much she wants to kiss him, because he is handsome. She appears to think that Cooper’s good looks and “sexy” accent (Australian) override his inappropriate behaviour – a damaging lesson. It is worrying to think about how the book could teach more impressionable female readers about the “acceptable” way to be treated by a potential partner.
As for Eric, she lets him hug her, basically saying it’s nice to be around someone with a sense of humour. OK. That’s… healthy.
It all calms down a bit when Willow and Cooper form a proper couple, but with a first half as shocking as it is, Tidal and its existence is unjustifiable.
So, there we have it. More misogynist rubbish to pack into the erotica market. If you’re a woman reading this book and you find Cooper a turn-on, I feel for you. Your self-esteem, like Willow’s, must be through the floorboards.
So you’ve been published? Great! You want to run it past someone honest and sometimes scathing? Good on you for taking up the gauntlet!
2. You pull up your chosen email client and start an email to fictavia (at) gmail (dot) com with “book review” somewhere in the subject!
3. You summarise your blurb, genre, intended audience and anything else important that you’d like me to know, and send it to me!
See? It’s easy!
I will read any genre, but prefer first-time authors because I like the little guys. They deserve their breaks!
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