I’ll start by saying that this is my first Vina Jackson novel. There have been three more before this and this one is considered a companion novel. I was of course apprehensive having not read the other three. I knew that the characters in the previous books would make an appearance in this one, but I was also hopeful that this book could be read as a standalone. And luckily, it can.
This is the story of Lubov Shevshenko, or Luba for short. Her story begins in the city of Donetsk, Ukraine. A tragedy happens that has Luba moving in with her aunt. Luba’s aunt sends her to St. Petersburg to train to be a prima ballerina. While Luba is gifted, she’s not as dedicated. She spends more time learning about the opposite sex… and while she learns the art of pleasing them orally, she doesn’t allow them to touch her. She’s certain there’s more to life than what she can see and what she has, so she dreams of moving to America. Eventually she does, still a virgin, and there she meets Chey. And their story begins.
I’d always liked bad boys. And as I grew up, they became bad men . . .
But this is more Luba’s story… a coming of age story if you will – we see Luba growing – mentally, physically, sexually. Meeting Chey is unlike anything she’s ever experienced. Men and women have always been attracted to Luba, but she’s never had anyone who’s captured her interest… until Chey. While their relationship develops, she realizes that something’s off… Chey keeps disappearing for long periods of time and Luba is tired of it all. On one such extended disappearance, Luba runs out of money. And that’s how she starts a career as an exotic dancer – which has her travelling all around Europe.
It’s difficult to write my review without giving away too much. Mostly because the reader experiences life with Luba, grows with her. I liked Luba as a heroine. She was strong, she made her own decisions and was never influenced by anything or anyone. Her story was sad to read… even though Luba carried herself with a dignity that left no room for pity. She was her own person and aimed to please only herself, and when she got bored, she’d move on.
I had to admit that this is not what I was expecting when I started reading the book. I expected the kind of in your face steam I’m accustomed to in Erotic Romance. But this was not that at all. I wasn’t sure how to describe it. I’d read somewhere that literary erotica is a combination of four elements; sexual heat, humor/pathos, surprise, and human condition profundity. And this had all four in good measure. Again, the sexual heat was not in your face steam. It was more subtle… aimed to arouse yes, but done in an understated way. I would compare it to a joke that makes you smile and shake your head… but doesn’t result to all out laughter…
While I did find it long and overly descriptive in parts, I have to admit that the writing style was beautiful – not only expressive but atmospheric. An interesting story, a profound story… one that I’m still thinking about… more in confusion than anything else. I enjoyed it, but I feel as if there were things I would have done differently. I would have included Chey more in the story. I admit, I missed him in parts and I feel like we din’t get to know him. Possibly the author’s intention as this is meant to be Luba’s story. But I wish I knew why, of all the men ready to do her bidding, she loved only Chey…
Other than that, I did feel like it dragged on in parts and by the time I was getting to the end.. I knew that if I’d had more patience, I probably would have enjoyed it much much more.
Amazon Buy Link – 80 Days Amber by Vina Jackson
Finally I’d like to thank Open Road Media and Netgalley for providing this copy for my review.