This week I had the pleasure of perusing a recent new release, an erotic novella entitled The Phantom. Part ghost story, part erotic tell-all, this book took on a unique plot: the story of a woman searching for an urban legend, and finding new worlds of sexuality along the way.
Immediate draws: ghost story, haunting as it is erotic. Increasingly hotter and hotter as the story goes on and our lead Sasha, is drawn deeper and deeper into the world of indulgent sexual exploration. In terms of the sex, it escalates nicely and delivers a lot of satisfying and dare I say, fun little vignettes. I read it right before bed, and straight through without stopping. Definitely an enjoyable bedtime story.
Some matters of the story could be improved, though. As much as I enjoyed it, The Phantom lacked subtlety in some of its execution, and I found myself "kicked" out of the story a few times too many by elements and character that made me roll my eyes.
I'll focus on the biggest factor: Sasha's boyfriend. The man is a dick, plain and simple, and that's okay because we're meant to dislike him. He has about as much subtlety as the abusive boyfriend from Family Guy, though. Sasha's boyfriend isn't abusive--not outright, at least--but he's also not a cartoon character. Leverett's intent is for readers to hate him, but I can't hate him if I can't take him seriously. My suggestion to the author is that even the biggest of douchebags has to be real in order to be loathed; in this case, virtually no scene featuring the boyfriend seemed realistic or necessary, because he was just not worth my investment. I found myself wanting to skip over the scenes involving him, and this creates a problem because in fiction, especially erotica, the last thing you want is something that kicks the reader out of the story.
In my opinion, this character could have been removed from the narrative entirely and the story would be none the worse for wear. In fact, it would only leave more room for the story's high points: the tempting, tantalizing, escalating sex.
So let's talk about the sex, then! Definitely delicious. The way the story is told, its almost a sexual experience in itself. Slow flirtation, a little teasing foreplay, until things start to climb with that steady roller-coaster anticipation. You can see what's to come but you can barely prepare for it; sometimes you tell yourself, "Oh, no, that can't possibly be where this is going....is it?" And then oh my, oh my, it is. One especially pleasing point about this story is Sasha's increasingly more daring, more breathtaking experiences: going from a woman more or less used to unsatisfying sex or no sex at all to things like bondage, anal, lesbian exploration and even more. No sex scene is quite like the last, and Leverett escalates them wonderfully, drawing readers along with Sasha in ever-intensifying fascination. It kept the story fresh, held my interest and delivered many, many "happy returns", shall we say?
Sasha is likeable (at least when she's not being blind to her boyfriend's irredeemable treatment), and her best friend Beth is, I have to say it, just a dear. Perhaps my favorite character. Perhaps the best thing about the book, though, was this: the story stayed with me. Read it in the dark and then stroll through those thoughts all over again in the light of day--that's a likeable story.
Overall, I give The Phantom a 3.5 out of 5. Readable, likeable, delectable. I think one of Sasha's salacious lady friends sums it up best:
"The Phantom is a master of erotic torture."
Pick up the Phantom at Breathless Press, All Romance Ebooks, and Bookstrand. Give it a go, I'm sure you won't be disappointed!