Most people would agree that alcoholism and prostitution aren’t sexy.
Yet somehow Kendall Grey turns these two vices into romance.
Back in BEATS Rax was captivated by a stripper, Lola, and in despair of losing her he drank so much he ended up with alcohol poisoning. Rax’s battle with the bottle has only increased since then. Especially now that his wingman/lover, Toombs, is exclusive with Jinx, the drummer of their band Killer Buzz Float.
As the band records what may be their breakthrough album, Rax pulls away from the happy couples–he’s sure he’ll never find a true love. Drunk and stumbling through the strip club Nocturnes, Rax spots his Lola–aka Eve Belikov.
Eve has danced since she was a child. Her parents, Russian immigrants, were killed by a drunk driver when she was twelve and left her floundering in the foster care system. As a stripper Eve is sexy and untouchable, but as an angel in Heaven, Nocturnes’ super exclusive BDSM sub-club, Eve gets touched any way her customers desire. In truth, as a reader I was appalled and disgusted–and had to remind myself that fiction is not even as strange as real-life. Somewhere in this world humans are degraded/exploited far worse than Eve was. Still, it was unsettling. And I think that’s the genius of Kendall Grey. She didn’t try to make it fun or sexy. She made it real. It was a risk. A big risk, and creatively I think it paid off–at least for me.
Eve isn’t interested in Rax. He’s a drunk mess, and she’s committed by contract to have no sexual contacts outside of Heaven. Still, in Rax she sees her own loneliness, and feels an emotional connection she has lacked since her parents died. Rax, he’ll take Lola/Eve in any capacity. Being near her stirs more than his libido–his music is richer and more soulful, kinda like the Night Music of a nocturne. His alcoholism troubles more than Eve; his bandmates stage an unsuccessful intervention.
Unable to keep seeing each other, Rax hopes for one last connection, and in the process saves Eve from a brutal attack. Rax blames himself, his drunkenness, for not preventing Eve’s disfigurement, and Eve sends him away in her shame, and also for her own peace of mind. Though, their reunion? EPIC seems too small a word.
Ms. Grey turns this Leaving Las Vegas-tale into an HEA. Much love, girl. It’s a miraculous feat.
By turns, NOCTURNES is nasty, dirty, gritty, infuriating, sad, soulful, redeeming and sexy. It takes the filthiest sow’s ear of a storyline and fashions a silk purse romance fit for FLOTUS. I highly recommend it, even if you have to read the Heaven scene with only one half-closed squinty eye, like me. NOCTURNES was nothing like I thought it would be, and everything it needed to be. Rax isn’t a sap. Eve’s hardened and jaded. The two of them have to rub all their rough edges against each other to smooth each other out. And peeling back those layers exposes the soft vulnerability that underlies a true love.
Make sure to come back and let me know if you liked NOCTURNES. And, as always, keep reading my friends!