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Eighty Days Blue (Eighty Days 2) Paperback – 13 Sep 2012
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In the manner of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, Vina Jackson's compelling, pulse-racing romance trilogy is a mouth-watering feast for the senses. Includes Eighty Days Yellow and Eighty Days Blue.
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Except that in reality it is never that simple. Rarely do we grow into something new without some obstacles getting in the way as Dominik and Summer are about to find out in this, the second instalment in the Eighty Days trilogy.
Violinist Summer Zahova is happy in New York. She is enjoying her time with the orchestra, especially now that it has a new and attractive conductor, Simón. Having left Victor behind her after his games in "Eighty Days Yellow" went too far for her, she is enjoying a few days with Dominik, the man who gave her the beautiful violin she cherishes and introduced her to the kinkier side of relationships. She never tells him about her times with Victor, even though Dominik knows Victor and they had an agreement to share any encounters with third parties with each other. When Dominik has to return to his life in London, Summer finds herself alone and unable to really connect with people. Dominik taking a sabbatical from his job in London to pursue a residency in New York appears to be the answer to the yearning they both feel for each other. But it isn't long after he arrives before a solo performance by Summer is such a success that it results in a world tour, taking her away from Dominik once again. When Summer at last returns to America it should mean a happy reunion but it appears that Victor still has some games to play with the young musician. And this time it might well result in the death of her relationship with Dominik.
Anyone who has read my review of "Eighty Days Yellow" knows that I felt kind of ambivalent about that book. I'm happy to say this second book in the trilogy worked better for me. As we get to know the two main characters better we also start to understand what it is that motivates them. That may not mean that they become anymore sympathetic than they were in the previous book, but, because they are consistent in their behaviour, they grow on the reader.
Maybe it is time to be honest and admit that my reluctance towards liking these books is a result of the level of realism in them. Most works of romantic fiction and erotica appear to be written as if they are fairy-tales. Not so these books. No first meeting with sparks flying followed by romantic courtship, interrupted for a short while by some sort of issue or misunderstanding only for everything to come together in an easy happily-ever-after in this story. These two main characters, though drawn together, have almost more downs than ups. It is their own behaviour as well as outside influences that throw obstacles in their way. These aren't almost too good to be true fantasies we are reading; these characters are flawed, selfish and at times stupid. In short, these characters are so real that you would like to slap them occasionally if only to wake them up to how careless they are being with each other and with their own feelings. And that I guess is a credit to the authors. As frustrating as I found the characters in this book at times, they do come across as very realistic in a way that characters in romances usually don't do.
I do wonder though if this is a work of erotic fiction (as in a tantalising story) or a cautionary tale (as in, be careful what you get yourself into because it can easily come back to bite you).
Although this book, like its prequel, comes with a fair amount of graphic and quite kinky sex scenes, the story seems to be more about the emotions behind the physical needs this time. To me it felt as if the feelings the characters had about their sexual needs, and the desperation those needs sometimes caused, was far more important than the actual acts of intimacy. We get an insight into the need, the confusion and also the shame the characters experience. This gives the book more depth than the average work of erotica usually has.
The shifting story-telling perspective that I had an issue with while reading "Eighty Days Yellow" is still the same. We still shift from Dominik (in the second person) to Summer (in the first as well as the second person). But I must have gotten used to it. While these shifts pulled my out of the story in the previous book they didn't bother me at all this time around. I'm still not sure why exactly Summer's story is told from two different perspectives, but I can live with it.
Now that I've read two of the three books in this series I find myself very curious about how this story might end. While it would seem that the two main characters are destined to be together eventually it also seems clear that both of them would have to learn a lot, about themselves and about each other, if we're ever to reach that (possibly) happy ending. I now can't wait to read the concluding book: "Eighty Days Red".
We re-join them in a rare moment of happy contentment in New York standing beneath the four sided clock in Grand Central Station - it's an incredibly atmospheric scene as they share a meal of oysters and go back to Dominik's hotel room for an afternoon of erotic pleasure.
But it really doesn't last for this seriously dysfunctional couple as sadness soon begins to seep into the narrative and insidiously permeates all aspects of the story right through to the bitter end by which point I felt an innate sense of wrongness at the turn of events and genuine tears stung my eyes as I read the last few words.
Dominik manages to get a temporary contract in New York and he and Summer live together for a short while but they struggle to be together in that way and there's a growing sense that it's just not enough. Summer craves Dominik's domination and he yearns to be soothed by the balm of her submission but there's a fine line between risk-taking and reckless abandon and Dominik and Summer stand either side of this line with Dominik being guided by natural caution whereas Summer seems to have no limitations and behaves ever more recklessly - she really scared me when she put a rope around her neck when she was alone. She never seems to realise when she is taking it too far - she's completely ruled by her sexual proclivities. The ties that bind them are stretched to breaking point as professional commitments and circumstances threaten to send them their separate ways.
As in Eighty Days Yellow, they both allow the other to be free to explore other sexual partners and situations with full disclosure but the events of the first book will roar back with a vengeance with devastating consequences for them both.
What an ending - this could so easily have been a conclusion but there is to be a third book, thankfully, because I'm just not ready to leave these two where we are forced to leave them. I want them to continue this tense, edgy uncomfortable journey to find that elusive Happy Ever After that had been so challenging to deal with when it got close.
I've really enjoyed these books - I love the language, the richness of the prose, the realism and the starkness of their story. It's compelling, intensely sensuous and emotionally draining.
4 stars erotic romance
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