Author: M. J. Rose
Where I got it: From NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review
Crackling with eroticism and suspense, the seductive new book that everyone is talking about probes the secret world of phone sex and one woman who becomes empowered by what she discovers there. Not since Erica Jong's Fear of Flying has a novel so masterfully mined the relationship between sexuality and identity.
On the surface, Julia Sterling's life seems blessed. Married to a renowned psychiatrist and living on Manhattan's tony Upper East Side, Julia deeply loves her stepson and is forging a career as a journalist.
When a writing job exposes her to the world of phone sex, Julia glimpses a world that stirs her erotic fantasies but threatens her carefully constructed reality. As she explores her emotional and sexual connections to the men she knows and several she will never meet, she confronts evil, perversity, and her own passions.
Tracing the currents of desire, illusion, and psychological manipulation,Lip Service is an astonishingly vivid glimpse into one woman's inner life. At the same time, this electrifying thriller grips the reader as it builds toward a shattering climax. M.J. Rose has delivered a debut novel unlike anything yet experienced in erotic fiction. Lip Service establishes her as a powerful storyteller.
Lip Service ended up being a more equal balance of mystery and self discovery in my opinion, which I wasn’t expecting but ended up enjoying. It also ended up being much less risque than I was anticipating based on the synopsis – it was much more plot oriented than sex oriented, which is always nice.
Julia Sterling has been through the wringer. Raised with a nosy psychologist father, and passed along to her “approved” psychologist husband after her mental breakdown in college, she’s never fully learned to deal with her own life, or had the opportunity to discover what she’s truly capable of.
When she’s given the opportunity to write a book – something she’s always dreamed of – she can’t resist taking it, even though it means going against her husband. As part of the research process, she’s trained as a phone sex operator. While a part of her comes alive as she rediscovers passion and intimacy in a new way, there’re mysteries hovering just beneath the surface of this strange new world…
Lip Service made me feel very passionate about some things, but just generally intrigued by others. I flat out hated Julia’s husband. Hated. His. Guts. Ugh. I get mad just thinking about him to write this. On the flip side, I ended up passionately in favor of Julia, and quite fond of most of the other main characters that interacted with her on a regular basis. In fact, this cast of generally likeable characters kept me from realizing the mystery that was going on!
This book doesn’t have the polish of Rose’s later books – I’m not sure if that’s a product of it being a debut publication, or because this is actually a prequel to another of her series’. However, I can’t say that it detracted from my experience in any meaningful way, and I would definitely suggest this to fans of Rose, or mysteries in general.