This quote pretty much sums up how I felt while reading the novel:
Thoughts run through my mind, so fast that they interrupt each other: Is it good? Is it bad? Could it be both at the same time?
The Film Student and Me evokes a feeling of darkness. Not only are the sexual dealings between Rebecca and Jared (her younger lover) dark, but so is the atmosphere in which they entertain their fantasies. Jared keeps the curtains in his apartment closed; darkening the room hosting their midday rendezvous. I’d say that more than half of the book is spent with Jared. In other words, a great portion of the book is spent with Rebecca recounting her experiences with Jared all the while questioning herself as to whether she should or does in fact like what is happening to her.
I’ve read my fair share of BDSM books and Jared is obviously a dominant. He is also a self proclaimed seducer and I could not shake the feeling that Rebecca was being used for more than just Jared’s pleasure throughout the book. That twist never came so I was a bit disappointed. I know I shouldn’t expect something like that to happen and I should let the author lead me through the story they created, but I think that would have created another level of interest in the story. As I said, I’ve read my fair share of BDSM novels. Some were fictionalized memoirs, some were written by those who practice BDSM, and some were by those who were just trying their hand (pardon the pun) at the genre. I’ve read everything from light and funny to highly erotic to almost too real. The “games” Jared plays with Rebecca are very dark and humiliating. I felt humiliated and I wasn’t even doing the tasks she was doing. Jared’s demeanor switches from being sweet and sexy to controlling and slightly frightening. Rebecca and I never knew which Jared we’d get when she’d walk through his door.
I never felt the need for Rebecca to sacrifice herself for Jared the way she did. I did not feel a connection to his character or hers. This may have been due to the length of the book or by the fact that the story was told in first person from Rebecca’s perspective. Though it keeps some mystery whirling around Jared and his intentions, the novel would have sold me more on their relationship had I known what he was thinking or feeling.
The most compelling portions of the book dealt with Rebecca’s relationship with her cheating husband, Caleb. I was more interested in knowing about her life at home with him than I was going into the details of her tryst with Jared. These portions were understated yet poignant. It was in these sections of the novel that the real story happened. Rebecca’s interactions with her twin girls, one of whom knows what is going on with her father, is heartbreaking. She must lie to them to protect them and it breaks her heart to do so for a father and a husband who no longer cares for their family.
I think this story could be the start of something deeper and better if a bit more focus was put on Rebecca and her husband’s relationship. Showing her unhappiness and later sexual freedom with Jared would have made it more powerful for me. What can I say? I need more story with my erotica.
* I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.