Jul 17 2011 11:12am

Fresh Meat: Janet Mullany’s Tell Me More (July 19, 2011)

Tell Me More by Janet Mullany

Janet Mullany
Tell Me More
Harlequin Spice, July 17, 2011, $14.95 print, $8.79 eBook

“Tell me every dirty detail…”

Jo Hutchinson is obsessed with a man she’s never seen—only heard. Her late–night calls from the office to the mysterious “Mr. D.” grow increasingly intimate, until they finally become full–blown phone sex. Still, Jo doesn’t dare meet him. Instead, she embarks on a series of sizzling sexual escapades with other guys, sharing every sweaty moment with Mr. D. afterward, a passion–by–proxy arrangement they both get off on. But even as she’s charting brave new naughty worlds, Jo knows that it’s all really for Mr. D. Every pleasure she experiences—eagerly, athletically, vocally—is to please him.

Immersed in fantasy, reality just slips away—even the chance at that elusive combination of love and lust. Her new tenant, Patrick, an Irish hunk in geek’s clothing, is totally into her. And in her lucid moments, Jo knows she feels the same. Can she tear herself away from her kinky dreamworld long enough to appreciate what’s right in front of her? Or has Mr. D. ruined her for real life?

Knowing there’s a difference between fantasy and reality is one thing, but having reality shoved in your face, even in a fictional setting, is something else entirely. Janet Mullany’s Tell Me More is hilarious at moments because Jo Hutchinson is brutally honest, about herself and the people and situations around her.

Unfortunately, that honesty, and the absolute explicitness of the author’s prose result in a schizophrenic kind of read. The book went from LOL funny in one moment to squickishness in the next. I don’t mind the LOL funny at all, but I don’t want squickishness in an erotic story. Funny or not, squick totally deflates the erotic, and what follows is but one example.

About a quarter of the way into the book, Jo agrees to attend a dinner party with Willis, a man she doesn’t particularly like. He’s rich, rather pompous, and when they did it, he flexed his chest muscles for her “admiration.” Although their sweaty picnic wasn’t as good for her as it was for him, she accepts his invitation to dinner and group sex at the house of some friends because it’ll give her something to tell Mr. D during their nightly phone calls.

Forget the slut factor because, frankly, to read this book is simply to accept that Jo Hutchinson is game for anything. That’s not the point. What matters is that most of her experiences are totally unsexy. At the dinner party, for instance, she recognizes the absurdity of a moment involving her hostess, but the scene is ruined precisely one second later because of that squickishness.

She...opened the dishwasher door. At that point I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. She unloaded a handful of brightly colored dildos and butt-plugs into a plastic bowlI was relieved to see they were the only items in the dishwasher, and that I wouldn’t have to ditch my wineglass and switch to beer.

“Can I do anything?” I asked and immediately regretted my question. What if she asked me to get busy with a dildo?

Fortunately she took my offer at face value and set me to work arranging chips on a serving tray while she scooped various dips into bowls. Then we took the snacks down to the basement, and so far, other than the breast display and the dildos rattling around in a plastic bowl on Cathy’s tray, it was just any weekend afternoon in suburbia.

“Oh, that’s gross, guys.” Cathy said.

The game had ended and the guys sprawled on the couch, beer bottles in hand, while on the screen a blond with breasts even bigger and more rigid than Cathy’s divided her time between sucking a huge torpedo of a penis and glancing flirtatiously with the camera. The owner of the penis was a large hairy guy with a slight potbelly.

Why did the author ruin my perfectly good time enjoying the visual of the bowl of dildos on a dinner tray by reminding me how squickish it is that some guys have no trouble watching porn with other guys?

The fun, and funny, completely leaves the scene a very short time later and the squick takes over. Somehow Jo allows herself to be drawn into a group scene with Willis, Cathy, and Cathy’s husband. While I’m not a fan of such activity, occasionally I’ll find it erotic to read a scene involving more than two people. Not so here. Instead I felt as though I needed a shower, particularly after...

An arc of semen splashed onto the coffee table.

“Oh, Willis,” Cathy said as though she were June Cleaver and he’d trodden mud over a clean kitchen floor. More semen landed and splashed, this time onto the towel he’d managed to grab, and he groaned loudly, semen dribbling from his cock into his fist.

My note from this snippet is simply “Ew,” which I think says all there needs to be said about it.

Over the last few years I’ve heard good things about the author and I jumped at the chance to read her. She obviously can write funnybrutally funny. Brutally funny is one thing, though, and brutally honest is another. Both have their place, but combined in this erotic romance they failed to engage me. On the other hand, if you read Mullany’s book and want to Tell Me More, I’ll look forward to it.

Laurie Gold cannot stop reading and writing about romance—she’s been blabbing online for years. She remains a work in progress. Be one of the few who visits her at Toe in the Water or follow her may-be-too-political-for-you tweets at @laurie_gold.

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1. Janet_Mullany
Hey Laure, hope you've had that shower! This scene was meant to be squicky and dirty, although I'm hoping you're not saying all the sex was like that in the book. Or did you?

Incidentally, when I was revising I found I'd originally written June Beaver which must be one of the finest typos ever.

Thanks for the--brutally honest--review.
Laurie Gold
2. LaurieGold
Janet, it's never enjoyable to read a book and not like it. I knew your intentions. I just couldn't embrace them, obviously, in that scene. But it was the character's voice...and yours, that while LOL funny didn't work for me in the book. Some years ago I heard a comic riff on how we actually look in the throes of passion. The throes of passion are great, but our facial expressions during them aren't particularly attractive. Your book exposed those expressions, removing any rose colored glasses I had on erotic scenes. I still look forward to trying one of your others, though, because many of my reading friends only have great things to say about you.
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