Friday, October 19, 2012

♥♥♥♥♥♥: Destined to Play by Indigo Bloome

Release Date: September 11th, 2012
Publisher: Avon Red (HarperCollins) 
Page Count: 288
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review

"It's simple. No sight. No questions. Forty-eight hours."

When thirty-seven-year-old psychologist Alexandra Blake leaves her comfortable suburban existence to travel for a series of lectures, she meets up with Dr. Jeremy Quinn, the man who opened her eyes and body to the world in ways she never thought possible. After a few glasses of champagne in his luxurious hotel penthouse, he presents her with an extraordinary proposition. Alexandra knows that they never promise each other something they can't commit to and that he will challenge her every inhibition. But she soon finds herself seduced into a level of surrender—and danger—she could never have imagined.

Destined to Play is the first book in the Avalon Trilogy exploring the intricate relationships between trust and betrayal, desire and love, and risk... and reward.
What Stephanie Thinks: Indigo Bloome's debut novel and first in the Avalon series takes readers on an intense and all the while tender journey of female sexuality by manipulating senses. Jeremy Quinn is a sinfully dark and provocative man of Alexa's past, but he's returned, and not without motives. What's supposed to be a business lecture becomes a weekend spent fulfilling her wildest fantasies... a weekend that changes her life forever.

I think the author tried really hard to become the "new Fifty Shades of Grey"; the same elements of a handsome, brooding hero and a reluctant and emotionally unavailable female protagonist are prevalent in both books. However, while Fifty Shades swept the nation, Destined to Play is rather unexceptional and sometimes even painful (and not in the good way!). When Alexa gives up her sight, we expect an explosion of the senses, we expect fireworks. What we get instead, are some decent erotic portrayals and a frustratingly vague ending. Destined to Play has its occasional glittering moments, but overall it's just plain dull.

Present escapades are delightfully interloped with brief sizzling encounters of the past, of the golden college years Alexa and Jeremy shared. I think these little sexual descriptions are my favorite part of the book because everything else described is either uneventful, or poorly expressed. There are weird, flawed analogies thrown here and there, unnecessarily vivid details of clothing, food, and dwellings, and stale dialogue throughout, which make the majority of the read unenjoyable. I also had major problems with Alexa's voice. She has no personality whatsoever, is highly fond of passive voice and the present tense, and often speaks as if she's from a Victorian novel—NOT from modern interaction. It's not Bloome's style that gets in the way, rather just the underdevelopment of Alexa's character. I had no difficulty reading the book, conventionally (there is a bit of an Australian charm, in fact), but the blandness of Alexa's narration irritated the hell out of me.

I shall stress my point with a direct quotation. During one of the 'erotic' (read: not erotic) scenes, Alexa says something I found quite peculiar: "If I had a penis, I'd have a massive erection." ....really? Is that supposed to be arousing? How any woman can prattle that off without being facetious, beats me.

Another thing that bothered me is Alexa's inability to ever make a decision. I know she's supposed to be a submissive character and decisions are supposed to be made for her, but first of all, the BDSM in this book doesn't even classify as BDSM (one whipping scene in which Alexa's half unconscious and delirious and annoyingly abstract, at that) so that doesn't work, and second of all, it goes against pretty much everything that keeps her grounded. The reader gains glimmers of hope when, one moment, she's all "Oh no, I love my two children and my faithful husband, I shouldn't be doing this, I'm a mother for Christ's sake, boohoo", and then loses it almost as quickly, when the next, Jeremy murmurs "Since when does motherhood give you permission to deny your sexuality?" into her ear, and she's jelly in his arms. This doesn't happen once; it happens, to everyone's dismay, every few pages.

The gravity of the situation with Jeremy does make up for the narrator's anguish-inducing diction and flighty conscience, somewhat. Well... The married woman having a rendezvous with her ex-lover—that's trite. Her husband SPOILER turning out to be gay and SPOILER approving of the relationship—so trite, I almost puked. But the underlying principles of the story, including the definition of trust, the boundary between love and security, and the power of promises—that's gold. 

When there is a tradeoff between dignity and liberation, how does one choose? This question—not the bondage, not the submission, not the weekend fling—is the core of Destined to Play. Alexa, in rediscovering her sexuality, comes to terms with not only her desires, but also her identity, which makes the entire adventure worthwhile. While the story is pretty good, the execution is short of a disaster. Even the ending is a disappointment: a truncation mid-action that yearns to be a cliffhanger, but really is just a Great! Now put this book down this instant! signal. Destined to Play certainly tries hard to break ground like Fifty Shades of Grey did (it's even referenced on the cover), but it falls dishearteningly flat. It isn't a totally miserable read, but I say with confidence there is nothing extraordinary or compelling about it.

Pros: Provokes deep thought regarding relationships, some good sex scenes, Australian charm.

Cons:
 "If I had a penis, I'd have a massive erection", aggravatingly boring voice, virtually no BDSM scenes, is a blatant Fifty Shades wannabe.

Verdict:
Don't waste your time.

Stephanie Loves: "...I feel exhausted fighting him and exhilarated being so close to him."

Radical Rating: 6 hearts: Satisfying for a first read, but I'm not going back. ♥♥♥♥♥♥