I finished this book with every intention of ranting about it shortly after I realized there was no way I would ever be able to sympathize with Monica. Then I watched Missrepresentation, and watching that documentary not only allowed me to put into words what exactly I didn’t like this book, but how I could say it without being demeaning. Which is exactly what I needed, because Katana Collins has the potential to be a terrific erotica author. There’s nothing wrong with her skills. The problem with this book is that unfortunately she’s a product of the media surrounding her (aren’t we all?) and it influenced her book in ways that made me feel largely uncomfortable.
Monica is a succubus. I admit, my problem with a lot of erotic novels is the woman is always described as the object of desire for every man she comes across. (Note, this is just my experience with the ones I’ve read. If any one has some good recommendations, please send them my way.) I thought I would be able to handle it if she was a succubus, because by her very nature to survive, she has to be desirable. Except she lost her powers, and she was still wanted by every man in the novel. In fact, even though it was her life in danger, she spent most of the time letting the men handle things while she had sex with a number of them. Again, not really a problem, but I would have liked an erotic novel where it was actually about what the woman wanted, but what we ended up with was an erotic fantasy that was still very much about male desire. Her boss emotionally manipulated her into having sex with him even though after the foreplay she changed her mind because they were both in relationships. There was even a masturbation porn scene where she was literally the center of attention for every man in the room. Including the angel. If I had thought for one moment that the men in her life viewed her as something more than a giant blow-up doll, this by itself would not have bothered me.
But women as solely an object of desire for men is not the only women-negative image that this book perpetuated. Once she starts to lose her powers, there’s a very real threat that she might be killed. And by killed, I mean that her soul itself would be annihilated and she would cease to exist. Yet she is more worried initially if eating like a human being is going to cause her to gain weight. She is more concerned with her looks than the fact that she might die. In fact, she bursts her pants at the seams shortly after losing her powers, and she immediately attributes it to the fact that she was eating. Not that fact that she doesn’t actually wear clothes as a succubus so they were probably just sitting around in her closet. The insidious message is that if you eat like a human being, you may gain weight and become undesirable, and regardless of it being unintentional, that is absolutely the last thing women in our society need to hear today.
Of course, my biggest problem with the entire book is how entirely catty Monica is, enforcing the message that women can’t truly be friends, because that other woman over there is a sexual threat. She hates her boss’s girlfriend because she believes her boss deserves better (aka her) and demeans her by saying she thinks she works at a hooters like joint. (She’s actually a detective.) The problem with this is she’s using another woman’s sexuality to demean her when Monica herself is a stripper at night. This is just the start of it. Monica spends the rest of the book insulting every woman she comes across, sometimes ones she hasn’t even met. At one point, she mentally threatens to shove her best friend’s face in a coffee grinder because she’s playfully flirting with her boss. It’s a wonder this woman has any friends at all with that type of behavior. Later, at a church function, her former angel mentor is introduced to a young Christian woman, who is wearing pantyhose under her skirt, and she’s a bitch. She didn’t even talk to this woman, but because she’s talking to one of her men, she’s a bitch. Oh, and the curvy one is the evil one. Yup. We shouldn’t be perpetuating this myth that when women are together they have to instantly view each other as a threat. Now, if Monica had learned some valuable lesson about the magic of friendship, that would have been amazing. But she didn’t. In fact, when one of these above women makes a huge sacrifice for Monica, she just resents her more because she wasn’t the evil bitch she assumed she was. Yet in the preview for the sequel, there’s no indication that Monica has learned her lesson not to make snap judgements about other women.
You might enjoy this book. Unfortunately, I could not because of all the negative woman myths it perpetuates. This sort of thing is so ingrained into our psyches that we put it into our books without thinking about it, because that’s how we’re taught to perceive women.