TITLE: EIGHTY DAYS WHITE
AUTHOR: VINA JACKSON
Details: no. 5 Eighty Days
Received from Orion Books
This fifth book in the “Eighty Days” series is about Lily, the girl with the teardrop tattoo, who has been present in all of the four previous books, be it in very small roles most of the time.
When Lily moves to London after finishing university in Brighton she is ready to embrace the world. She doesn’t know what she wants from life or how exactly she fits into her surroundings though. Observing her friend submitting to a man leaves Lily with mixed emotions. She is intrigued by the dynamic between them, the abandon she witnesses in her friend as well as the control the man displays, but she is not quite sure how this relates to her. Lily is on a quest to discover exactly what it is she wants and needs and her search starts with a passionate but somewhat detached affair with Leonard, a man about twice her age. Although she only meets him in impersonal hotel rooms she feels close to and safe with him. When he ends their affair, all to aware of the problems the difference in their ages will at some point cause, he leaves Lily bereft. She longs for Leonard with a desperate passion and while she continues her search for what ever it may be she is looking for, it is always with the image of Leonard in the back of her mind.
After Leonard, Lily starts an affair with Dagur, the drummer in the Holy Criminals rock band. Although she can lose herself in wonderful and imaginative sexual exploits with him, she knows from the start that this isn’t and never will be a relationship. Through Dagur she meets Grayson, a celebrity photographer and his Mistress, She, who runs a fetish club. It is through She and her part-time job in the club that Lily discovers her dominating tendencies, but even those don’t bring her quite the satisfaction she is looking for. And her confusion about what it is what she wants means that she regularly finds herself angry for no clear reason; with herself and with the people around her.
It is only when she takes herself away from London and all the people she knows that her eyes are opened to what it is she really wants and needs; to what was always available to her if only she had been able to see it.
As in the previous Eighty Days books no effort has been made to make the main character either charming or endearing; these books portray real human beings with real doubts, fears and dark sides. Lily is only 21 years old when the story starts and has only started on her journey to who she is and what her role in life will be. And she is layered; on the outside she may look like a bad girl but on the inside the good girl she has been for most of her life is still alive and kicking. It is through her various relationships and all the different experiences she has that she slowly starts to recognise that maybe there isn’t an either – or answer to her questions. Maybe she doesn’t have to make a choice between being in charge and submitting; maybe she can just be herself with the one person who never wanted her to be anything else in the first place. This makes for an interesting character study. And while there were times when I wanted to smack Lily and tell her to stop being self-obsessed, her journey felt real and the outcome at the end was very satisfying.
I loved the way in which the characters from the previous books all play minor roles in this one. It was nice to once again get glimpses of Summer and Dominik, Luba and Chey, Lauralynn and Viggo just as it was interesting to see a character like Grayson developed a little bit further. According to the “Acknowledgments” this is the last “Eighty Days” title featuring these characters, and I have to admit that I’m sorry to say goodbye to them. On the upside though we are promised a return of Eighty Days with a whole host of new characters and I’m both delighted and very curious about that.
This book, like the four prequels, is very well written. The authors manage to make both the characters and their surroundings vivid and real. In fact, there were times that the characters were maybe a bit too realistic for me; their emotions and faults a bit too recognisable for comfort. This is not the sort of book where you find yourself wishing you were the main character, at least not until the very end of the book. The journeys the characters in these books have to undertake in order to get to their personal happy endings are too much like real life for that. But then these are books about personal journeys of discovery as much as they are works of erotica.
As for that erotica it is explicit and doesn’t always make for comfortable reading. And again that is due to the realism. We do not have beautifully sculpted, idolised versions of what a dream Dom would be in these books. We get a look at everything that can be wrong about the BDSM life-style as well as everything that can be right about it. The characters in these books are searching for that which really works for them and it is a quest filled with ups and downs, happiness and sadness, fulfilment as well as disappointment. Nobody wakes up one morning knowing exactly what it is they want and how to get it, and neither do the characters in these books. And while that doesn’t always paint a pretty picture it does make for a realistic and intriguing story. In fact, there were times that things were a bit too realistic and explicit for me, although that is a result of my personal likes and dislikes and not to the way in which this book is written. For example, while I'm all for spanking and flogging I can't get excited about a sub being slapped in the face, even if the sub in question thoroughly enjoys the experience. And there were one or two other descriptions that made me shudder, and not with excitement, but these incidents did not make me enjoy the book any less. I did really like the way in which the authors reflect the difference between being in love with someone and feeling a bond because of a similar sexual taste. While the first is needed for a successful relationship, the second is required for sexual play that leaves both partners satisfied and safe. What I liked most though was Lily's insecurity about what it is she actually wants and watching her experiment to find out. It made for an interesting journey with one or two eye-opening moments for me. That some of them were not quite to my taste is neither here nor there, they may be just what somebody else enjoys reading about.