As a reader who has closely followed this author's writing progress with interest over the last 2 years, I'm delighted to have read four of his five previously published novellas and witnessed his literary growth. I wish him great success and hope the information below proves beneficial to the reading public.
David Rehak has always been adept at choosing catchy titles and covers, so this one will most likely work for this book. I, personally, feel that it's perfect for the subject matter. This title intrigued me, and I don't intrigue too easily. The question posed about the first novella grabbed me, making me wonder if the couple will stay together. The description of the second story "hooked" me, too... to the point that I just "had" to know who the little peasant girl really loves. The same with the third story; I was eager to know what happens to these fascinating characters. In nine tight, well-written lines of copy (by the width of my page), it managed to arouse my curiosity about all three stories, and as a huge fan of this writer already, it made this a must read for me.
I think this book would appeal to anyone who likes erotica or just a good story about love and lust, and reading about forbidden topics, but to the general modern reader as well. Since it speaks of lesbianism and other arguably "socially taboo" subjects, there's a vast audience who thrive on the so-called "dark" material. From previous books, David Rehak already has a following of readers who admire his "daring" for writing about "forbidden" subjects. And since his main characters generally battle the forces of good and evil with "good" winning, making for satisfying endings, both sides of his readership are mollified. As for the length of the novellas, they are a little short, but acceptable for the genre. I, personally, as well as many readers, favor books of about 300 pages, but the three novellas together are approximately that length in book form, so don't worry about that.
One of this author's strong points is that he dares to go where other writers fear to go, and that he creates exciting, original plots. These three stories are no exception. In this collection of three novellas, the opening story begins at the turn of the previous century with Theo, a promising poet who is part of a writer`s circle of friends. Theo is a wholesome, conservative and idealistic type who has little in common with his wild, crude, bohemian friends. But one of the members of the group, Marcel, is his best friend. Through Marcel he meets the girl of his dreams, Juliette. She's a very free-spirited and exciting girl who captivates him. He falls in love with her and at first their relationship is wonderful, but in time, Theo learns that Juliette is secretly a prostitute. This revelation devastates Theo, and tests his love for her to the max. He leaves her. But this way things become even worse. Through much soul-searching and a despair that almost leads to death, he eventually realizes that he cannot overcome his love for her and is desperate to forgive her. But will she give up her disreputable profession and be his wife?
The second novella is the story of Isabelle and Jeanne, two schoolgirl best-friends. Isabelle is shy and inhibited while Jeanne is outgoing and audacious... but opposites attract. Jeanne begins to fall in love with her best friend Isabelle, but Isabelle has a boyfriend named Leon, so Jeanne spreads false rumors of his unfaithfulness with prostitutes, hoping to break up the relationship between himself and Isabelle. It works. The two girls find village life tedious and dull, so when Isabelle's parents die, leaving behind an inheritance, Jeanne and Isabelle decide to pack up and head for the exciting "big city" life in Paris. Eventually, and almost by chance, they find themselves among the elites, the creme de la creme, of society. Jeanne is "kept" by a famous authoress, Colette. When Isabelle learns of the sexual nature of this "scandalous" relationship, she becomes upset and leaves her best-friend, trying to find solace in the arms of a lover, a rich gentleman named Maurice. But neither girl can stop thinking about the other, and a longing to be together builds the longer they are apart. On the night that Isabelle is to leave forever with Maurice, she runs to Jeanne in desperation, and the two girls are reunited at last, their time apart making clear the realization of their mutual love.
The third and last novella is the story of two twin sisters, who look the same on the outside, but are of different minds, and one (Marie) grows up to be chaste while the other (Gabrielle) licentious. Their mother dies in childbirth, so their father, unable to bring them up alone, gives them up to a convent. They come of age and escape the strict harsh rigors of the convent, both choosing a completely different path in life. Marie chooses a modest road and decides she'll become a domestic, while Gabrielle has high ambitions and snatches an aristocrat, only to later get bored, rob him, and leave. Marie starts working for a wealthy diplomat and has a wonderful relationship with him. Meanwhile, Gabrielle is herself, in turn, robbed and left penniless. She locates her sister and finds a working position in the household where her sister works. But it isn't long before Gabrielle's aristocrat finds her and she is tried and sentenced to death for the grand theft. The climax of the story comes when it is revealed that the diplomat is the sisters' long-lost father! A race against time insues as he and Isabelle secure a pardon from the King and must reach the gallows before the sentence is carried out, before it's too late.
I think the plot of the first novella is the strongest and most enjoyable of the three.
Compared with most other contemporary historical novels, I find most of the dialogue in Rehak's various novels to be realistic enough for the time period, but I also feel that he often relies on dialogue too much and that in times of heavy action, he shouldn't have his characters talk too much and use sentences too long. Generally, in action scenes, a writer is supposed to use shorter, more clipped sentences to show the characters' emotions and their breathlessness.
The writing exhibits strong grammar, and a nice writing style, with crisp, clear, descriptive phrases and a reasonable vocabulary to keep the reader's interest. However, sometimes Rehak doesn't go enough into detail and description. It feels like an impressionistic painting, a little vague in style and not exactly finished. There are places where Rehak needs to improve. For example, some of the paragraphs are too long, and that's hard on the eyes. But except for so many unnaturally long paragraphs, it was a pleasure reading this book.
Overall, I find that all three stories are intriguing and shocking, but will appeal to the open-minded mainstream reader who seems to be the targeted audience. They are powerful stories, intelligently written, and the resulting book is excellent. However, I like the first and last stories much better than the second one. The author seems to crowd every decadent act conceivable to mankind into the second story, making it appear he is doing it to deliberately shock his readers. I felt he went too far with the "turd" scenario and it degraded the character of Isabelle. She is the one "shining star" in the book; the one his readers need to empathize with, so I wish that had been left out by the editor. The plot is good, but I feel the girls have far too many raucous adventures, thus slowing it down, although it's never boring. But I preferred when it got back to the "love" the girls have for each other. I found I cared what happened to both Isabelle and Jeanne; despite Jeanne having lower morals, she had so many other redeeming qualities I grew to care for her by the end of the book.
I also feel that the first novella is the strongest of the three and would equate it's quality with Rehak's first book, A Young Girl's Crimes. Overall, this is perhaps his best, and certainly his most mature work.