Review: Domino Effect by Jill Elaine Hughes

The Domino Effect - Jill Elaine Hughes

Quick review for a not so quick read. I really don't have much to say about "Domino Effect." Really, I don't, and that's a bad thing. Usually, I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt to a book if it manages to engage me on some levels of the read, but my first read from Jill Elaine Hughes had me wondering how on earth this got published by Ellora's Cave, let alone by any publisher at all of romance. It's like it wasn't even from a veteran writer of erotica - this managed to cram every single stereotype that could pass muster into its framework. The writing was juvenile and trite, the presentation was lazy, and the story had me laughing for the wrong reasons in what was purportedly an "erotic thriller."

I don't get the hype at all. I seriously don't. This is one of those few times I really regret picking up a narrative at all for the time it took me to peruse - it was that horribly written. It's not even that it offended me for the content, it's the fact that it's a narrative that tries to take itself seriously, without even the backing to carry it as a story in its purported genre.

The story, in a nutshell, depicts a 20 something reporter (Nancy) who pretty much makes mention of and obsesses over her virginity every chance she gets. Lo and behold, she meets a convenient Ukrainian lover (Peter) whom she falls head over heels in lust for at an art exhibit which he sponsors. He awakens every part of her body and makes her want to "do" things she's never done. When he gets his art project shut down for indecency (let's just say there's actually a couple that's engaging in a sex act while purportedly showing their "art"), Nancy and Peter's relationship begins taking a very predictable turn of sexy insta-times, and then some odd subplot about a sex trafficking ring which lends into an abrupt cliffhanger with no kind of lead-in or anticipation for the next book in the series.

This book plays into every possible ignorant stereotype about virginity that possibly exists. The heroine is incredibly sexually and socially naive, and her voice is grating. It's like the book tries to sell you on the idea that the things she observes are extremely sexy and intimate, but without the intimacy and maturity to make it work. It reads like a poorly written erotic fanfic that wants to skirt around using sexual terms and elicit a few immature chuckles. The heroine's in her head all the time, and if I'm not turned off by the fact that she's bemoaning about all these things she supposedly lacking being a virgin, then it's gloating about Peter and her ability to have a sex drive within the drop of a hat, based on a supposed "alter ego" he awakens within her.

We're not even going to discuss how she recounts her one and only time with a guy when she was a virgin to jumping into BDSM level sex acts and having multiple orgasms in a row.

Try a few ridiculous quotes in tow:

"I was sure if my secret got out, thousands of women would beat a path to my door, demanding answers and perhaps a magic potion of some kind. Orgasms like that were a rare and precious thing. I might not know much about sex, but I knew that."

"Oh, Nancy, we’ve hardly begun and you’ve come already? My
dear girl, what shall I do with you?” Peter’s voice cut into my reverie. I’d come? Is that what he said? As in an orgasm? Was that really what orgasms felt like? I’d never had one. I’d never even tried to give myself one. Not even when my Human Sexuality professor told us to masturbate and then write about how it felt as a homework assignment. I’d just made something up based on what I’d read in Tropic of Cancer. I’d gotten a B-minus on the paper, which I made up for on the final exam."

"Not that I was complaining. I was far past due to enter into
womanhood. And I’d done it with a bang. How many women out there could claim they’d lost their virginity in a Ritz-Carlton penthouse suite with a mysterious, filthy-rich artist with an international reputation? How many virgins agreed to be tied up with lengths of expensive silk and had multiple orgasms the first time out? Not many, I was sure. It was all very exotic and exciting. I’m not sure I would call it romantic though. It was more like the plot of a steamy pulp novel or perhaps a modern twist on the Victorian “fallen woman” narrative. For some strange reason I was reminded of Daisy Miller, the title character in a Henry James novel I’d read for Nineteenth-Century American literature class last semester."


Oh, FML.

Never mind that her friend persists in sexual shaming:

"I was beginning to get worried about you. At the rate you were going, you were either going to end up a creepy virgin bride or an old cat lady who lives in a trailer down by the river.”

We're not going to discuss how she never really had a relationship before Peter, and the closest she ever got to having one was with a guy that purportedly everyone but her parents knew was gay (and she considers outing the guy, just to get her parents off her back about it. So, offending people who are gay while simultaneously insulting virgins! No thank you.)

And then the whole sex trafficking thing - she has BDSM related fantasies while in captivity and nearly getting her friend killed by challenging authorities every which way but loose? It was comical while trying to take itself seriously. It was too serious to be a parody, and yet it came across as presenting these things in a haphazard way that was either supposed to be funny or tongue in cheek, but ended up extremely awkward.

I just...no. Not even worth the time.

Overall score: 0 stars

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.