Before I start this review, I’ll say that I’m currently laughing and blushing behind my computer screen as I’m writing this review. My sister came in to check on me as I was reading and she usually asks me what galleys I’m reading on my computer (though she’s noted to tell me about other things I should be doing in the process). She just so happens to walk in while I’m trying to read this one.
This is the conversation that played out, paraphrased:
Me: “I’m reading a Choose Your Own Adventure Erotica book.”
Sister: “Dude, they actually make those kinds of books now? WTF are you reading? No, wait, I should be asking why are YOU reading this?”
Sister: “Are you enjoying it?”
Me: “…I just finished it.”
Sister: “What did you think?”
Me: “I think it takes a certain stroke of genius to be able to do a CYOA book in any genre. And I think the author was very creative and ambitious to do it. But this was…weird.”
Sister: “Do I even want to know?”
Me: “Probably not.”
This is the first book I’ve ever read by Christine d’Abo, and admittedly, I don’t think I’ve ever read a Choose Your Own Adventure book that was quite like…this. I’ll admit reading this was a pursuit of morbid curiosity as well as an exercise in reading past my own boundaries (which I’m more than willing to do, as long as I get something constructive from the experience.)
A word of warning, if the idea of reading graphic scenes of BDSM and such gives you hives – stay away from this book. It doesn’t pull punches and is for mature audiences.
This is a story that follows Tegan, a woman seeking love and fun in a nightly club that recently reopened. Basically, you’re guiding her decisions to choose what lover she ends up with from the night’s events. It’s a rather thin plot, but then again, I don’t think you’d expect too complex of a plot for a CYOA work anyway. As a reader – you’re having to make decisions for the character and are dashing from one point to the next. I’ve read my fair share of CYOA game books in fantasy, sci-fi, teen slice of life/contemporary, among a few others in the past. So I’m familiar with how those books are paced, and I do have to say that d’Abo gets the structuring right.
I ended up knocking out about three endings off the bat, though I think there may’ve been a couple more because of certain routes I didn’t go. I went to the upstairs, the dungeon, even acted as a Dominant (*snorts*).
Personally speaking, this read just wasn’t my cuppa, but I have a feeling for those who read in this genre, in particular, they may get more out of it than I did. It’s structured well, and uber steamy/risque in the vein of this genre, but I just couldn’t feel invested for the nature of it, personally. It’s actually a much quicker read than what you might think because there are parts where it retraces over routes you’ve already taken. If you were in the wax room once for example (don’t ask), you wouldn’t need to go there again unless you just wanted to read the same scene over again. The descriptions are general enough that you can just move from one scene to the next and not lose anything as you’re going along.
The endings are open-ended, at least for those that I perused. While it was interesting to see them, many ended just when the relationship was set to start, and that bummed me because I wanted to see a little more into the respective personalities of the gents Tegan ends up with. Sure you have the sexy times being the main focus, but I guess since it was so fleeting through the actual choices made (the beginning was structured well enough, and I felt like the characters had a connection there), it was hard to grasp who they were beyond the engagements in this.
Quick read, pretty much for those who don’t mind the blend between the choice of reading sexy times with the aspect of choosing which route you want to go through a viewpoint character.
As far as a recommendation is concerned, I’m more hesitant if only the nature of this read just didn’t click with me and it went by much faster than I thought it would. I’d be willing to read more of the CYOA type book in romance/erotic romance though, and even more from Christine d’Abo just to get more of a feel for her style of writing.
Overall score: 2/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Carina Press.