As someone who reads for a living, I can tell you that there are a lot of poorly written books out there. That goes double or triple for erotica. So I was happily surprised at how well written The Family Jewels by Carole Hart is. It's part of the HEAT imprint at New American Library, to be released in March 2009. Yes, Virginia, erotica can be satisfying to the brain.
For starters, the characters in this novel are believable and smart. Olivia is a middle-class kid in Cape Cod whose family is on the verge of poverty. At a young age she learns that her good looks gain her all manner of possessions--shoes, designer clothes, access to the homes and lives of the wealthy, and more. When Paul teaches her the bedroom arts and how to steal jewelry from the rich, she is thrown into a world of sex, greed, and power. Olivia justifies her life choices by taking on her sister's college expenses after their father has a fatal heart attack. The closer she gets to getting caught the more she risks in pursuit of sex and gems.
According to Amazon, Hart is a pseudonym for an acclaimed British author, which wasn't surprising. The book is expertly plotted, reads like a Steve Berry international thriller, and, somehow, effortlessly includes "big words" like sangfroid. The erotica doesn't seem repetitive, even in a 265-page book, and ultimately is a lot more realistic and satisfying read than the romance novel that tries to disguise itself as erotica with a sprinkling of crude terms. This book has more than just a sprinkling of crude terms, and yet it's still a better read.