Title: Savage (Savage #1)
Author: Eliza David
Print Length: 180 pages
Publisher: WriteGirlProblems Press (September 30, 2016)
Publication Date: September 30, 2016
Laney Townes of the Cougarette series is back with her own adventures in business and pleasure!
When CeeCee Banks announces her plans to leave her post at Chronicles to pursue her writing career full-time, Laney is counting on her best friend to hand over the reins of the non-profit to her – finally fulfilling her lifelong CEO dream. That is, until CeeCee’s new hire, Alex Esteban, shows up.
Alex, the fiftysomething president of his own consulting firm, locks horns with the resistant Laney as he attempts a reorganization of Chronicles. Between managing the seesaw of her friends-with-benefits relationship with girlfriend Jess and raising daughter Izzy on her own, the last thing Laney needs is Alex taking her chance at the top seat out from under her.
As CeeCee’s departure grows imminent, Laney sets aside her differences with Alex, vowing to work together to keep the organization afloat. The two Alphas slowly begin to find common ground and get along well.
In this sexy first installment of the Savage series, we find out if our favorite straight-shooting, whiskey-drinking BFF is ready to give up her lady-loving status for a chance at love with Alex – a man just as savage in the boardroom (and bedroom) as she is.
I’ve been looking forward to this because I really like Eliza David’s writing. It’s smart, sexy, and full of strong, capable women who have charge of their lives (if not always their loves). I was looking forward to some more steamy fun.
For the most part, that’s what I got, but I will admit I had to suspend my disbelief. This is definitely not a representation of a woman growing into her identity later in life. It’s a sort of twist on the “gay for you” trope, only it’s “straight for you.” If you can get past that aspect, it’s pretty well-written and has some terrific moments.
What I loved: Lainey is smart, strong, and independent. Her struggles to let someone in, to love and be loved in return, are relatable. I also liked how she handles things with her young daughter. She has to repeatedly fend off well-meaning people who believe she isn’t enough, and her growth when it comes to Izzy is terrific. That alone is reason to read the story.
What I liked: I appreciated the effort to include queer relationships and to highlight some very real issues between Lainey and the women she previously dated. There’s also some pretty good sex between them. For the most part, Lainey’s friends are casual about her sexuality, and when they say foolish things or get excited that she might be into a man, she at least makes an effort to set them right. I was really hoping she would acknowledge more about her attraction to Alex and how that changes the way she moves through the world as a woman who loves women. I appreciated her internal confusion, but it also left me feeling conflicted and a bit confused myself. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially for those of us who have experienced those feelings.
What didn’t work for me: This didn’t really ring true to me as an exploration of queer women. I was put off by Alex’s consistent pressure on Lainey to give it up to him; he wasn’t willing to respect her no. There is a whole lot of phrasing throughout which made me cringe. Lainey repeatedly assures everyone she is a lesbian despite her attraction to Alex. She refers to bisexual college women as “straight girls looking to experiment.” CeeCee implies that Alex has “conquered” a lesbian. I already don’t like the trope of “gay for you,” and a straight version is actually somewhat worse because lesbians in particular are often erased, and they are marginalized both by straight people and by men. This left me with the impression that lesbians just need to meet the right man in order to develop “proper” hetero feelings or that it’s juicy to read about the big, bad lesbian being taken down a sexual notch or two by a man.
Ultimately, this was a decent read, but as a queer person, I’m hesitant to read more. If I want to read about women who love women, I prefer genuine lesbian or bisexual fiction. I’m not interested in reading about a lesbian who gets hot for a man because he challenges her, and I don’t see a whole lot of reason why another woman couldn’t be equally challenging (and hot). I understand that the books are probably intended for a straight-but-tolerant readership, but in that case, some educating about the stereotypes is necessary rather than fueling them.
For a likable protagonist, a stellar mom-daughter relationship, and a bit of suspended disbelief, this gets 7/10 fountain pens.
Heat Rating: 3 ink wells (plenty of detailed sex scenes, but not frequent or extremely graphic)
Eliza David is the author of the five-star-rated, six-book Cougarette series. She was born and raised on the noisy South Side of Chicago, but now lives in super quiet Iowa. When she’s not writing, working full-time, or raising two children with her loving husband, Eliza enjoys reading throwback Jackie Collins and indulging in the occasional order of cheese fries.