Sin & Seduction
Dorian Grant is king of the New Orleans underworld, but he isn’t mafia and doesn’t appreciate the assumption. He’s simply a crude businessman anyone in his right mind would think twice about screwing over. Life in the Big Easy is all about sin, and violent, short-tempered Dorian has committed them all.
But not all New Orleans sins leave a bad taste in the mouth, as Dorian discovers the night a man stage-named Sweet Heat dances into his life at a club called Sin & Seduction. Dorian was expecting a hot lay. He damn sure wasn’t looking for a relationship, and certainly not with someone like Jansen, who turns Dorian’s grimly organized world upside down.
Now Dorian finds himself pressuring Jansen to quit his job because he can’t stand the thought of other men touching what’s his. Of course, Jansen wants a little quid pro quo—after all, Dorian’s job is dangerous. Jansen just doesn’t realize how dangerous until it’s too late.
I felt I had an conflicting/interesting relationship with the book Sin and Seduction as I read my way through it. I found I enjoyed it a fair bit… but then I read comments online about the book and found myself so vociferously disagreeing with what people were saying, that I started liking Sin and Seduction more. A lot of the things that people complained about were, in my opinion, correct choices as an author and have raised my respect for Cassatta’s work.
I liked the rougher world and rougher characters Cassatta created, as it is a nice change up from the cookie-cutter settings and characters that most gay erotic romance novels use. Oddly, this got a fair bit of negative feedback on Goodreads. It was an enjoyable change to read about characters that aren’t sappy and who just want to have sex. These were characters who had serious flaws and made bad choices. Of course, the romance does come in after a while… it wouldn’t be an erotic romance book without it. (Cassatta included an author’s note addressing this, that the characters are in no way stereotypical of the gay community. I originally thought it was an odd choice to include the note, but given the reactions of readers, it was obviously necessary.) So, point for Cassatta.
I liked the use of unsafe sex. Again, the got a fair bit of negative feedback on Goodreads. I hadn’t honestly thought of the unsafe nature of the sex scenes until I read the criticisms online. Too much erotic romance is filled with overdone condom scenes, testing scenes, and preaching conversations about being responsible and loving. Gag. I roll my eyes when these scenes happen. Real gay men sometimes have unsafe sex. Even when having safe sex, real gay men don’t often have overwritten conversations about the importance of being safe and how it’s a sign of true love. Gag again. Cassatta is reflecting an aspect of reality. Not only that, but unsafe sex is fitting with these characters — to have them pause to fetch a condom would only kill the mood and be entirely out of character. So, two points for Cassatta.
The characterization was a little wonky, but I quickly grew to understand that’s just how these characters are, based on their lived experiences. Again, this is where I disagree with some of the criticisms online. I’ve read a number of comments criticizing Jansen’s emotional swings… but the way I took it, Jansen is emotionally damaged (as is Dorian), and so the mood swings are par for the course. Jansen, in his back story, had been brutally raped and Cassatta crafted his character traits based on this past hurt. To me, the mood swings, clinginess, and occasional crying, are part of his psychology. So, three points for Cassatta.
Interestingly, I found a lot of comments praising the editing of Sin and Seduction. While in terms of pure mechanics, Sin and Seduction was fine, the amount of head hopping and POV violations was high. The POV would change sometimes mid-paragraph. It was jarring, though I did grow accustomed to it. However, this book would have been far stronger with correct POV usage.
So, overall… I think a lot of people online disliked this book because it was different… but, for me, that’s what made me like it more. (Make that four points for Cassatta.) Sin and Seduction isn’t your average gay erotic romance book, and it’s all the stronger for it. It’s definitely a must-read for readers who are burning out on reading the typical stuff and are looking for a change-up.