Dirty by Megan Hart

I knew arousal. I knew desire. Lust. This was something else, all three and something different, too. This was tumbling headfirst down the rabbit hole, this was standing on the edge of the cliff and preparing to leap, this was nothing and everything all at once.

Redonk Nutshell: Woman with complicated past finds herself struggling from falling into an emotional relationship with a man she can’t resist

This. *points vigorously to book* Effing. Book.  Gah!  It haunts me still, and in every glorious way possible.

I’m not even sure the best way to summarize this book without taking anything away from your own individual reading experience.  It’s an introspective study of Elle, a woman who has perfected the art of keeping her act together despite the odds of her past conspiring against her.  Elle meets Dan in a candy store, and she finds herself unable to put him out of her mind, despite the fact they exchanged only words.  When they run into each other again weeks later, she’s torn between protecting herself and allowing herself to feel something.  She’s determined to cut out emotional attachment like some sort of cancer, and, intrigued, Dan agrees to come along for the ride.  What results is a tormented exploration into unknown territory for the both of them.

I lost track of how many passages I highlighted.  I was baited and hopelessly hooked by Ms. Hart’s exquisite talent with words.  When Elle and Dan meet for the second time, and Elle is feeling out her inexplicable attraction to him:

Another man who’d called me a girl would have earned a stomp to his foot and maybe the drink in his face.  For him, my mouth curved.  Closer we drew, magnets attracting, one to one, without the pressure of the people around us.

And later when they’re dancing at a club:

I saw the shift in his gaze and knew the exact moment when he recognized my reaction. If he’d smiled smugly or leered, I’d have fled. Instead, his eyes narrowed slightly, and his expression became a mixture of determination and helpless admiration. He looked at me as though he didn’t care if the song ever stopped of if he never looked at another woman again.

Much later, Elle reflects on the magical and age old power a woman holds over a man:

This part I knew. How a glimpse of pink could render a man mindless. We all have the same parts, us women, yet every man I’ve ever been with has looked at me as though he’s never seen a naked woman before. There is power in our bodies that men don’t have, secret and hidden places they yearn to explore over and over. Women’s bodies hold the mystery of blood and life, not just pleasure.

Good lord, what words of wisdom. I’m tempted to copy this and forward it to Rush Limbaugh and anyone else demonstrating misplaced fear of sexuality. Because that’s what it is, and ultimately what this book deals with.  A planted idea of being Dirty, of how our sexual nature can easy be twisted into being evil, wrong, or stunted.

Then of course there’s the opposite side of the coin, those who make it a point to advertise their sexuality:

I think society, as a whole, is so focused on sex and being sexy it’s become a caucus race. Everyone runs and runs, trying to catch up to everyone else and in the end we all think we deserve prizes.

Dirty is, by far, my top pick of Megan Hart’s work. It’s an intense study about both the physical and emotional aspects of relationships, and not just romantic ones.  It is, in my mind, a perfect example of erotic literature.  Yes, literature.  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to anyone looking for something that will take you on a sensual and complicated journey.

Dirty by Megan Hart, 425 pgs, 01/2007

Rating: A+

Romance: 3/5       Raunch: 5/5

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