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Book Review: Decadence by Eric Jerome Dickey

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A couple times per decade, someone publishes an adult novel that becomes the talk of the book lovers world. In 2011, E.L. James published 50 Shades Of Grey, then quickly capitalized on the success by churning out two more books to make it a trilogy.

As successful as these ‘erotic books” turned out to be, they also picked up as much criticism from readers and authors as being badly written. A lot of this criticism was without a doubt jealousy for the success this relatively unknown author received. But, in truth, a lot of this criticism was justified. The characters themselves were beyond belief. They not only asked (begged?) the reader to suspend belief, but were amateurish and one dimensional. The plot was full of holes, and even the sex was over the top…and not in any good way. As one reviewer put it, the entire story seemed drawn from a couple of teenaged girls naughty dreams.

Naturally, readers and authors alike wondered how well they could write this type of story – erotica – if they applied even a modicum of true craft to the subject. A natural to tackle this challenge is New York Times Best Selling author, Eric Jerome Dickey. Dickey is no stranger to writing hot, steamy sex scenes into his novels, but he is also a master craftsman, possessing, as if part of his DNA, an ability to craft a novel in practically any genre. Early in his career he was labeled the king of the relationship novel. Later on attempts were made to tag him as a master of “urban” fiction (whatever that is). He has written successfully in the noir field (Tempted by Trouble ), romantic thriller (Chasing Destiny ), thrillers (Gideon Series ) and a whole host of other genres.

For what should be the hands down the erotic novel of the year, in Decadence and its ebook only prequel, The Education of Nia Simone Bijou (E-INITIAL) Dickey has revived the main characters from 2008s Pleasure. Decadence takes place four years after the events of Pleasure. Nia is now a successful author who presents a staid persona to her adoring public, but behind the scenes she is expanding on her quest for sensual pleasure. Nia, a self described book worm, had her sexual awakening in college with her first love, Chris Eidos Alleyne, but when Chris dumped Nia for Nia’s roommate and best friend Nia was heartbroken and embarked on a number of sexual affairs. Now determined to learn more about life, about herself and about her humanness and to broaden and discover her own limits she joins an exclusive adult club, Decadence.

Nia is a flawed character, as most humans are. She is sexually hungry for a former over, Prada, but Prada wants her exclusively and Nia is not ready for an exclusive relationship. She is also drawn in a more romantic way to a man she had a one night stand with, Bret. Bret and Nia have become very good friends but have not repeated that night of sexual bliss and exploration. And Nia feels that Bret is not an ideal mate. He is divorced, and has custody of his two children and besides Bret is a soldier and wouldn’t fit in to Nia’s upper crust world.

Perhaps more than all of that, Nia is also in search of her muse and her literary identity. She has become a successful writer since she left college but most of that financial success has come as a screenwriter in Hollywood, and Nia is not sure she wishes to live in that plastic world with its manufactured celebrity.

What Dickey brings to the erotic novel is the same artistry he brings to his novels in other genres. His characters are full blooded people; they pop from the pages as real as your neighbor, your lover, your fantasies. He also builds a story that is complete in every way, at once familiar yet original. He imparts a sense of place that will make the scenes play like film in the readers mind and the pace is just perfect. Even the sex scenes — and there are plenty –, are some of the best in literature: modern or classic.

Decadence is a novel of a young, talented and beautiful woman’s journey of self-discovery, sexual awakening and artistic genesis. In the hands of one of the best story tellers working today, it’s more than an erotic novel and possesses, as does Nia, the ability to cross many lines and blur the borders of genre.

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult (April 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525953833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525953838
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About The Dirty Lowdown

I was born in Pomona, California at a very young age. I had a pretty normal childhood…or I was a pretty normal child hood if mom is telling the story. I was a paperboy and washed cars. I was a soda fountain jock-jerk and a manic mechanic but my first real job was as a labor organizer in a maternity ward. Then, because of the misjudgment of a judge I spent nearly 10 years in the service of our country mostly on KP duty. Our country sure turns out a lot of dirty dishes. I am a past master at pots and pans. They eventually recognized my real talent and let me wander around some very unfriendly places carrying a big radio that didn’t work. Along the way I took up the bass guitar, jotting down stories, electronic engineering and earned a degree in advanced criminal activities. I spent most of my adult life, if you can call it that, working in the I.T. industry, which I was particularly suited for since we worked in rooms with no windows. On and off I taught in colleges, universities and reform schools as a student teacher… I like smog, traffic, kinky people, car trouble, noisy neighbors, and crowded seedy bars where I have been known to quote Raymond Chandler as pickup lines. I have always been a voracious reader, everything from the classics, to popular fiction, history to science but I have a special place in my heart for crime fiction, especially hard-boiled detective fiction and noir. I write a book and music review blog for all genres at The Dirty Lowdown. And another dedicated to Crime Fiction and all things Noir called Crimeways. It’s named after the magazine that appeared in the Kenneth Fearing classic, The Big Clock. There I write scholarly reviews of the classic hard boiled, noir and crime fiction books from the 20's through today. Mostly I drool over the salacious pictures on the covers. I also write for Tecnorati/BlogCritics where i am part of a sinister cabal of superior writers.