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Set in the South, THE AWAKENING SOCIETY by J.M. Madden is the tale of an older, sexually experienced woman who provides a unique service to select young Savannah males by teaching them wise and wonderful ways to please the future women in their lives.
When the story opens, Tonya Hughes has been providing this service for twenty years and is ready to retire. She just has one more young, anxious male that she has promised to sexually awaken. There is poignancy from the beginning because she has chosen this young man to be her last one. But Harrison Walker proves to be an unusual case despite his relative innocence.
The bottom line is that Madden changes that habit for me with her erotic contemporaries even though the raw sexuality still surprises me at times. I am willing to risk that for the glimpse she gives me of the raw emotion fueling the passion. She does not skimp on the emotional involvement of her characters nor spare me the language of erotic encounters.
I have to admit this is not the first contemporary book of Madden's I succumbed to in this manner. I first got hooked when I read WET DREAM, a wonderful story about an long, erotic weekend between two emotionally damaged and needy, but amazingly likable people. She made me care about them in first couple pages of the book. The first sexual encounter in WET DREAM was as emotional as the last one was poignant and wistful. The ones in between gave me reasons to take cold showers. She does that again in THE AWAKENING SOCIETY, even if in a different way. I'm coming to think of this emotional-but-erotic blend of sexuality as being one of my favorite traits of her writing.
So how "hot and steamy" is this particular book? Let me just say that if this book became a movie I was going to see, I would have to ask the concessionaire to put the popcorn in the soda cup and fill the popcorn bucket full of ice. And I would insist on having the right male company sitting beside me in the theater.
Madden tends to write shorter, but emotionally charged pieces. With this book though, she has committed to writing more about these characters which is why I chose THE AWAKENING SOCIETY for this feature. I even ended up participating in a poll for the follow-up book in which she gave readers options for the future direction of the relationship of these characters. Now I'm waiting to see which way she has chosen to go. So while THE AWAKENING SOCIETY was a book whose end was an HFN (happily for now) instead of an HEA (happily ever after), it was okay for me from the beginning because I knew I was going to get a Book 2.
What else was great about this book? You know how you always remember the first really great sex in your life? And how twenty years after it happens, the memory still plays in your mind, warming you when you think about it?
You do? Yeah. . .me too.
Well, that's what J.M. Madden has captured in this book.