Libra Paley is a gifted writer with a quietly elegant and alluring prose that sneaks up on you, much like the ghosts who haunt her heroine Ebby Scott, a reluctant librarian who checks into "the Estate," an exclusive hotel where sleep is fleeting and orgasms plentiful. Inspired by Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Ebby's sexual renaissance is motivated by the death of her mother, a stalled love life and sexual inexperience, all which combine to compel Ebby to take bold new steps toward her sexual gratification, namely checking into "the Estate" where she'll meet ghostly lovers who bring orgasmic relief.
There were some missed opportunities, sex in a hotel bar is witnessed by no one at all, but what if that same encounter were witnessed by just one guest, or an employee. What if it were witnessed by several? Ms. Paley's strength is often in what she doesn't write, leaving much to our imagination but that can be a double sword too, sometimes I want some more detail as to the “nuts and bolts” basics of her ghostly sex (and orgasms). And I wished for a harder, more selfish, self-pleasuring and self-empowering choice regarding our heroine’s future than was intoned, but that being said, even with those minor “room for improvement” notes, I was taken aback at the effortlessness of Ms. Paley’s prose, the delicate way she handled her protagonist’s desire and the literary touches she painted throughout.
I was most impressed at Ms. Paley’s perspective, the vulnerability of Ebby and the fragile nature of her desires. If I am honest I hadn’t read erotica in a while (save my own version I guess) and I was impressed at how effective a more indirect storytelling element can be, the power of what’s not said, that is… thus 5 stars.