Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Lessons in "Oh." (A Review)

I bought “Lessons in 'O' : Deep Throating /Oral Sex / Three Some/ Lesbian” by Gemma Parkes from the Kindle store because Parkes tweeted that it is number 17 in Best Female Erotica 2011 list and I presumed this was based on sales. I realise now it was just a list by someone on Amazon. A lesson for me in more careful purchasing. There aren't any reviews for this particular piece but there are reviews of other works by same author and they're generally quite good so I presumed this would be alright.

I bought it, despite the fact that the tag words are in the title, and “threesome” is left as two words rather than combined into one. I bought it despite there being no front cover, so to speak, just a slightly odd CGI image of a pair of lips which looks like it wasn't actually rendered, it was lifted straight from a work in progress on a 3D modelling package.

My second impression was about as great as my first. The formatting was annoying – I had to turn the font size down because it was enormous. There are no proper line breaks or tabs for new paragraphs. There's a serious lack of punctuation right from the off. I was at this point feeling distinctly disappointed. I make no secret that I've not read a lot of erotica lately that I've enjoyed, but I still wilt a little when I try someone new that doesn't raise my expectations. Looking over the comments I've written already I'm wondering why I still went ahead and I bought it. I didn't want (perhaps unwisely) to judge the book by it's cover.

The premise is... bizarre (slightly creepy, I thought), but gets points for being original. Ellie's guy would like her to read his ex-girlfriend's book about oral sex in order to become better at it. Being a good girlfriend, Ellie does try it – and then invites the author/ex-girlfriend over, and lesbian antics ensue.

There's a lot of quite well written sex and it's quite light hearted, but that was about it, really. The dialogue is very clunky and made me cringe more often than relate to the characters. The ex-girlfriend is painted as intensely irritating (and a bit mentally imbalanced, if I'm honest) and I found myself wondering what Ellie was doing with her. There was no “Three Some”. Overall I felt it was confused, with the issues overshadowing the occasional glimpses of potential brilliance. Nothing that a few solid edits couldn't fix, perhaps, but not ready to be in the Kindle store yet, even at £0.86.

Conclusion: Not without merit, but not worth paying for. 2 out of 5 stars.

In the interest of constructive criticism, here are some (hopefully) helpful comments:

  • First impressions are incredibly important. It's unfortunate that many readers will judge your book by it's cover but it's the truth. Make sure that your work looks professional from the outside.
  • Please, please, PLEASE get someone with a decent grasp of grammar to check over your work before you publish it.
  • Check that your work is properly formatted for the medium you're selling it for. If you don't have a Kindle, find someone who does. Your reader will thank you.
  • I don't like to judge an author based on one piece of work, but many readers will do just that. You could be selling hundreds of other stories but work like this may well be putting off many more “come back” readers that you would otherwise be attracting. It pays to get it right all the time. This leads me to....
  • ...if you go back to a story like this and realise that it is letting your other work down, take it out of circulation and fix it. Don't just leave it there like a bad smell.


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