Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Review Tuesday: Through the Lens by Adriana Kraft -- #Polyamory #Bisexuality #ReviewTuesday

Through the Lens cover

Through the Lens by Adriana Kraft

eXtasy Books, 2020

Elementary schoolteacher Ellen Jeffers can’t afford to be associated with any sort of impropriety. Her first reaction to her friend Angie’s invitation to intimacy is a kind of panic. News travels quickly in a small South Dakota town; even if she were comfortable with the idea of a female lover, Ellen would be risking her career. She’s grateful that she has a prior commitment for the summer, teaching photography and working as a studio assistant in Minneapolis.

Aaron Brewster prides himself on his understanding of women – especially when he’s gazing at them through his camera lens. He’s adept at stripping away layers of shyness and embarrassment to expose his subjects’ intrinsic sensuality. Eager to apply his usual techniques to his new assistant, he finds that she’s a puzzle, a baffling mixture of prudish innocence and brash self-confidence. For once, he’s not completely in control of his studio scenes. Ellen has an unprecedented ability to surprise, to arouse, and to deeply disturb him.

Working with Aaron and encouraged by his long-term model Tina, Ellen begins to appreciate her own capacity for erotic pleasure. Like a prairie flower, she opens and blooms. As she explores the landscape of her own lusts in the company of Tina and her husband Mike, Aaron watches in frustration. He wants Ellen as he’s never wanted another woman, to cherish as much as to ravish, but he can’t bring himself to admit this.

Aaron, Tina and Mike have a stable polyamorous relationship, which Ellen could complete. The main obstacle turns out not to be Ellen’s conservative scruples but Aaron’s confusion about his own motives.

Through the Lens is a luscious chronicle of a woman’s journey to self-knowledge and sexual freedom. Ellen’s disastrous first marriage has made her wary of intimacy. It takes a while for her to learn how to trust her body and surrender to her fantasies. When she does, the results are incendiary.

I love stories that recognize the fluidity of desire. This erotic romance celebrates bisexuality with a frank exuberance that I found thoroughly exhilarating. Adriana Kraft understands that carnal hunger and affection are not mutually exclusive – that lust and love can be a continuum – that monogamy is not the only shape for committed relationships – and that sex can be simultaneously earth-shattering and wonderful fun.

I did find certain aspects of this novel a bit implausible. In the real world, Aaron probably couldn’t get away with his outrageous in-studio antics. Meanwhile, Ellen’s transformation from uptight schoolteacher to enthusiastic voluptuary struck me as too quick and uncomplicated. In addition, the consolidation of the polyamorous unit felt too easy. I know from personal experience that finding the right partners for polyamory can be daunting. In a way, Mike and Tina are just place-holders. They’re both physically stunning and expert in the lascivious arts. We don’t get to know them at all, except in their roles as lovers.

All in all, I think Through the Lens works better as erotic fantasy than realistic romance. That’s fine, though. The sex scenes are creative, varied and profoundly satisfying. The book delivers both the happily-ever-after promised by the genre and the more fleeting but equally delightful release of erotic tension. If you’re comfortable with non-monogamous relationships and explicit, feel-good sex, you’re bound to enjoy it.

1 comment:

Adriana said...

Thank you so much, Lisabet! High praise, coming from you, and exquisitely written, as always.

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