I recently read a book that I guess qualifies as “erotic fiction.” I’m actually not sure if it does or not. It wasn’t, like, straight erotica or anything. But there was quite a bit of that in there and the whole book revolved around a woman having an affair.
I’m going to start by saying that I don’t have a problem with people who enjoy these types of books, but they are typically not my thing. I read Arsen: A Broken Love Story by Mia Asher after stumbling upon it on Goodreads. The book had an astounding 4.23/5 rating with something like 10,000 ratings. I misinterpreted what type of book it was, thinking it might be a deep character study about a woman who finds herself in love with two men. Nope.
Almost all the reviews were people going crazy for the book, saying that it was emotionally devastating, really well written, and that it was “mind blowing.” I’m not sure what book these people read, but I read a very different book.
The book that I read was disjointed, sloppy, and a little disturbing. I will say that the author had a way with words at certain points. She used strong verbs and there was some good imagery amidst all the nonsense, but overall I found the narrative incredibly nerve-wracking.
A quick summary of the book is as follows: Cathy is bored with her marriage and a little depressed because she’s had multiple miscarriages. She meets a stereotypically gorgeous manwhore named Arsen, her boss’s son, and begins to have inappropriate feelings for him. She must decide if Arsen is worth risking her marriage. She basically decides that, yes, she’s going to cheat on her husband with this guy.
First off I will say this: no character in this book is likable.
Cathy is whiny, childish, and incredibly selfish. She can’t decide if she loves her husband or if she’s fallen out of love with him. She can’t decide if she sees Arsen as just a friend or if she loves him or if he disgusts her. She’s the worst. The absolute worst.
Her husband, Ben, is only slightly better. He’s portrayed as this wonderful, sweet husband… but he’s honestly kind of grotesque. Almost every conversation they have is sexual and he comes off kind of pervy. Still, he’s the only character worth rooting for in this train wreck of a book.
Arsen is an asshole. The first time he meets Cathy, he pretty much throws himself at her. He touches her inappropriately and flirts even after she tells him to stop. This is a problem. This is yet another book where consent comes second to whatever the man wants to do. Anyway, he keeps flirting with her and telling her about all the women he’s screwing and all this really charming stuff. He basically thinks he’s God’s gift to the vagina and the book goes into all these details about all these models and actresses that he’s sleeping with, but we’re expected to believe that he really wants Cathy more than anyone.
First of all, no. I’m so tired of these stupid books that have these just insanely attractive men who could have anyone in the world but they want to get with the “average looking” female protagonist who is never that interesting. If this man really existed and was this sex-obsessed, he would not be worrying himself pining over an average looking, married employee of his father’s. This is fantasy land and it’s annoying.
Throughout the book, every single man that Cathy comes in contact with tries to sleep with her. There’s her husband, her husband’s friend (who says he respects his friend but would totally get with her under different circumstances), Arsen, this guy at a bar, this other guy she goes out with, etc. I hasten to believe that this woman who, like I said, is the worst would have all these men drooling and begging her to give them a chance.
Second, I hate when books try to make misogyny sexy. This guy treats women like meat, but he’s so hot so we’re supposed to actually like his character. When Arsen and Cathy finally do start having an affair, he keeps insinuating that Cathy is his. There’s all this talk from both Arsen and from Cathy that he owns her. That just really rubs me the wrong way. Not only because she was married to another man, but because no person owns any person. Apparently we as readers are supposed to find this kind of talk sexy? No!
It’s similar to how 50 Shades of Grey is psychologically disturbing and emotionally manipulative. Why are so many authors going in this direction? Why aren’t consent and respect things that we see in these types of novels? It honestly really, really bothers me. I’m all for romance novels when the man treats the woman with decency and both parties make sure that the other party is comfortable with what’s happening. But maybe that just isn’t what authors think readers want? There must be a very large demand for stories where the man just takes what he wants and the woman just deals with it. Because, you know, he’s so attractive that I’ll just let him do what he wants to me!
Anyway, I ended up giving Arsen: A Broken Love Story 1 out of 5 stars. It was really that bad. Beyond all that I’ve ranted about, it takes forever to get anywhere. Almost half the book is Cathy just whining. The end actually had promise, but then the epilogue was awful and just leaves a terrible taste in the mouth.
I don’t recommend this book to anyone and I’m honestly still a little angry that I wasted my time and money on it. Have you ever had a book that made you feel like this?
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