Him by Cecilia Scott
Link to buy
Story Rating: 2 out of 5 paddles
Sting Factor (kink): 1 out of 5
Lila is a college teacher who meets a man at a bar, takes him home, sleeps with him and the rest of the 200 pages is about how she obsesses about him. The whole story is about sexual craving that slides into mental anguish. Lila’s sexual experiences with HIM (his name is never mentioned. He is always referred to as HIM) are the best she’s ever had and she spends all her time away from him thinking about the sex she’d had with him and longing for the next moments spent with him.
I’ve said in previous reviews that reading first person requires that I like the character speaking. I didn’t like Lila very much. Despite the fact that Lila took care of her mother when she was sick with cancer until she died and despite her helping her landlord, Sam, with his sick wife and then with his properties, I found that Lila was pretty much all about Lila.
Her best friend is pregnant, but Lila is so obsessed about HIM that she can’t be bothered to be polite or loving. Her treatment of the people who love her during this time is appalling and seems constantly excused. What Lila seems to want is to be able to have whatever she wishes without fear of judgment or consequences. There are moments when sanity dawns but Lila is effective at ignoring it. Her visit to a psychiatrist doesn’t yield any changes as Lila pursues her own destruction through her emotional breakdowns.
The sex scenes are quick and there is very little emotional connection between the characters. Lila has sexual encounters with HIM that clearly mean more to her than they do to her lover. He is only interested in fucking and the fact that Lila seems determined not to see this drove me nuts. She pouts and whines and cries that he neglects her, mistreats her, he isn’t fair. It isn’t pretty or sexy. Yet, men in this story seem to fall for Lila’s magic pussy and especially her breasts.
She sleeps with a student, referred to only as THE BOY, and risks her career to do it. She uses this man and his emotions for her to salve her loneliness and her broken pride. I’m afraid I was unimpressed with Lila’s actions. There’s very little safe sex in this and I found the kink level to be disappointing.
I especially want to address the kink in this book. I don’t believe that “Domination” means this kind of controlling behavior. Yes, the male lover, HIM, is a controlling, manipulative asshole which seems to be Lila’s version of “dominating”. But it isn’t. The book has anal sex (which please please please if you read this, know that anal is NOT done this way by anyone who cares about you) and other erotic components, but I don’t know that I’d say this has much BDSM in it. If there is, it isn’t safe, sane and consensual.
I think a lot of women can relate to Lila’s experience of sexual obsession and the emotional agony that can rip a safe, comfortable world apart. That said, I think Lila owed some people serious apologies for her behavior and she gives none. She seems to think her presence in their lives is enough of a treat that her bad behavior is excused.
In the end, Lila finds happiness, but even as she speaks about her new life, new boyfriend and new job, she harks back to wanting HIM. Lesson not learned.
The writing was good and I did like the literary quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past the self-centered, ego maniacal actions of the main character and it made the book a chore to read for me. This book is straight erotica and I know a lot of readers love this. It had all the flavor of “9 1/2 weeks” with less of the sensation play. Just because I couldn’t get past my rather romantic ideas of characters and stories, doesn’t mean someone else won’t enjoy it.
Reviewed by Jennifer Leeland