Whoa. This was deep. Dark. But I suppose, real. Maybe too real. I had recently received a few recommendations for it…
“I just got done reading Dirty and I fell in love with this book. … I am curious if you have read any of her books and if so what you think?”
“She wrote a book called Dirty and it is really really good… Check it out!”
But you guys kept “mum” about what I was going into… That’s okay. You know I love surprises! But OMG it was not at all what I was expecting when going into it. I’ll admit it took me a few chapters to connect, and to find the rhythm of the story being told…
Maryse’s Book Blog: “I’m not connecting to this one. It feels… stilted.”
… but when I finally clued in that this book wasn’t my typical sweet and edgy love story, I understood it. I let go of what I “felt” like reading, what I was hoping it would be, and let it take me on a very different journey. And I LOVED it. Not in the same way we love our romance novels. I love to fall in love with “love”. But this was not that. There was nothing funny, sweet or sigh-inducing here.
Well no. I take that back. Dan was beautiful. I adored him, and he was perfect. And real. And so was she. But this is not about romance. And while there is that “aspect” to the book, it is not about that at all.
Maryse’s Book Blog: Whoa but this book is kind of deep. Problem is I didn’t know what I was getting not when I started it. Now that I’m almost done, I can say I’m certainly into it. Right at about the 50% mark I couldn’t put it down. But it’s not romance. There IS that, but it’s not that.
Jenny: Oh really Maryse? Do I need to bump this up the reading order? I’m intrigued
Maryse’s Book Blog: Jenny – probably… yes. Knowing that you like the darker grittier stuff. This isn’t “alternative” but the main character struggles with a terrible secret, and it keeps her from expressing emotion. Very difficult read, but so good. It’s not what you’d expect from the cover and from the “title”. I mean, there’s plenty of “dirty” (hehe) but it’s so much more then that. Thing is, I walked into it expecting a more bubblegum romance/erotica feel and realized quickly that is not what this book is about.
And yet, while I have two very sweet fun book reviews to finish, this is the one that I felt compelled to finish first.
Elle has a dark past, a shame, a regret, from her childhood and is carrying a certain guilt that won’t allow her to truly live. Her personal growth has been stunted. Her belief in love, squashed. And she copes with her past by counting (she has a touch of OCD), by not forming personal relationships (at all, with girlfriends or otherwise), by avoiding her family at all costs. And by having detached, uninvolved sex with strangers. Many of them.
Sex had been a choice I made to ease an ache inside. I knew it. I knew why I did it.
And then, by not having sex with anybody at all. For years.
And one day, she encounters Dan. And everything about Dan is different. And everything about how she reacts to Dan is different.
By lunchtime I still hadn’t been able to relegate him to a memory.
And Elle doesn’t do “different”. She has structured her life just so, and Dan being in it, more than once is throwing her off balance. Forcing her to face things she didn’t ever want to face again. And forcing him to deal with her, and her “difficult”. Because everything about Elle is difficult.
This was a gritty, beautifully written, introspective book, but this was not romance. It had it’s elements of “dirty”, it had it’s elements of love, but it’s not about that. It’s about personal growth, facing the truth, acceptance and letting go. And it’s about the potential for trust and connecting again, after years of living a detached existence.
I looked up at him. He looked at me.
“What is this?” he asked, voice pitched low but still audible.
“I don’t know.” I shook my head, and my hair fell forward again, over my shoulders.
“Do you want to know?” He moved closer.
Now we sat thigh to thigh, his hand still enclosing mine. The heat from his body seeped through my clothes, but I shivered.
I knew arousal. I knew desire. Lust. This was something else, all three and something different, too. This was tumbling headfirst into the rabbit hole, this was standing on the edge of the cliff and preparing to leap, this was nothing and everything all at once.
“Yes,” I whispered, sure he couldn’t hear me. “I want to know.”
But none of this comes easy, and let me tell you, as I read this, I didn’t like Elle. She irritated me, aggravated me. I felt like telling her to get over herself. And then as it progressed… I got her. And I felt her. And I shed tears for her (and I was utterly surprised when it happened).
But when reflecting back to the character that she was, how could anyone react differently? This book wasn’t about the reader becoming the heroine (thank goodness for that, honestly) but it was about someone that the reader does eventually come to care for. And hope for.
Loved it, but in an entirely different way. Would I read this again? Probably not. For me it’s not the kind of book I want to re-live. It took me away, but not someplace I want to go again.
But will I continue with this author. Absolutely. Now that I know her writing style. Eloquent yet aching.
Interested in the series? Check out the reading order guide!