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The Fangirl

Long time geek, fangirl, mother, and reader. I've got a lot to say, you might not like it all, but it will be honest and hopefully helpful.

Not worth the time or money (even if it's free)

Safe With Me - Shaina Richmond

[Note: Repost of old review. Author has since retitled the book as an "extended free sample."]


I feel it's VERY important that anyone thinking about buying this, "book" understand that it is not a complete story. It's the first few chapters of a much larger story that's been split into several segments (six are available for purchase, with more promised to come). Each of these segments costs $0.99. Recently the author made segments 1-6 available for $2.99 ($6.99 as of 1/28/2013), but an Amazon customer wouldn't easily find this information looking at the profile for parts 1 and 2. Any interested reader would very likely buy Safe with Me Parts 1 and 2, then discover the collection (that is still not complete) and have to repurchase parts 1 and 2 along with the rest, paying an additional $2.99 on top of the original investment. It feels like a lot of effort for an erotic ebook, and for this book it's a wasted investment, in my opinion.


The story is fairly simple: boy meets girl, they chat, have sex and then a budding romance begins to blossom. Yet, with a simple structure like this, I never got the feeling that there is an actual story in Safe with Me. Rather, it's a series of events strung together like one would find in a diary.


Safe With Me Parts 1 and 2 is told from Tyler's point of view, but his voice often doesn't ring true to that of a real man. The only time he sounded close to any men I know is when he rattles off random, often crude terms for female genitalia or when he says really cliched things that sound like the author has watched one too many episodes of Jersey Shore.


Susie's characterization isn't much better, though I gave some leeway for that since we are only seeing her through Tyler's eyes. Still, so much of her behavior contradicts itself and not in a way that hints at depth. In theory, Susie is a great character; an independent, sexually confident, full-figured girl as a romantic heroine. This is a character I've longed to read, unfortunately neither Susie nor the story lives up to that dream...at all. She has no personality, and her attributes are told to us rather than shown by her behavior. Right off the bat, Tyler raves about how Susie is independent and confident, which seemed rather premature, since at that point all she's done is have sex with a relative stranger on her couch.


As for the BBW (Big Beautiful Woman) aspect of this story, I both see it and don't. Susie is a size 12, which I know many people in American culture treat as "fat," but as a woman of a much larger size I don't see it as anything other than average. Tyler's insistence that he's never been attracted to a "girl like her" before and the constant negative/derogatory references to Susie's weight left me confused and frustrated. Tyler sometimes describes Susie's body rather eloquently (at times too eloquently to believe that I'm in the mind of a young man), but then reverts to terms (i.e. "more cushion" for the pushing) that are so cliche and offensive it left me angry and mildly offended.


It all combines to give one the impression that men have to "get over" the fact that a girl is "heavy" in order to love her rather than the truth, which is there are sexy men that actually pursue BBW and find their bodies VERY sexy and attractive. While I feel that it was the author's intention to present a positive story of a full-figured woman finding love, her efforts resulted in a miss rather than a hit. It's a mistake I think many authors in contemporary romance and erotica make.


Then we have the sex, or what little of it the author showed us. It feels like this author is trying to write erotica without really writing sex. The few details she gives us are laughable in their description and seem as though they were lifted from one of those porno magazines that Tyler refers to constantly. By the end of the first sex scene, it doesn't feel like you've actually read about sex at all, but rather a seventeen-year-old boy's third-hand retelling of it. Quite frankly, I didn't find it sexy. I found it boring, much like most of the text.


This story suffers from what many self-published novels do: a severe LACK of editing. The author has potential and very interesting ideas, but she lacks the experience to properly present the story. She makes a lot of amateur mistakes that turned both her characters into one-dimensional cliches. This actually made me more sad than angry, because I would have loved to read a well-written erotic story about a Native American man and a full-figured woman. Sadly, Safe with Me is not that story.


As I mentioned in the beginning of my review, the price for this book ($0.99) is about average for most erotica ebooks on Amazon, IF the entire story was here. However, this is just the first part of a much longer story that must be purchased in segments, EACH costing $0.99. I believe there are six in all, with several more installments forthcoming. So, Safe with Me appears to be a $0.99 ebook, but it is actually a $6.00+ ebook (of poor quality) split into segments and made available at the author's convenience. While the author is transparent about Safe with Me being a series, I don't think the quality of the writing or storytelling is worth the price.


There are many erotic ebooks available on Amazon, as well as smaller online publishers, that are equal to or better than the Safe with Me. They're also complete and actually only cost $0.99. I would advise readers that are looking for a good quality, inexpensive erotic story to look for those books and to not waste their time and money on a series that is most assuredly going to disappoint readers when (& if) it ends.


Side note for non-Caucasian readers and lovers of multicultural romance:


I was pulled out of the story when Tyler referred to himself as "American Indian." This really bothered me because most Native Americans identify by their tribe: Lakota, Navajo, Cree, etc. Which only made the other token, borderline offensive cliches surrounding the character's ethnicity. 


In fairness, the author explains away Tyler's lack of tribal knowledge by saying his mother is half "Indian" and he doesn't know much else, like what tribe. However, he later refers to his grandmother marrying a "white man." It's very hard for me to believe that Tyler would have known of both his grandmother's marriage and the fact that his mother is half Native American, but have no knowledge of the tribe's name. This smacks of lazy writing to me and tokenism. A half-hearted reference to his ethnicity is given to play off the fetish of it, without bothering to research or write a fully-realized character, which is irritating and offensive.


Most mainstream readers wouldn't even notice this, but readers that are looking for a well-written multicultural romance should skip this story, as it will only serve to aggravate you.