"Art should be dangerous, you know. It should say something to society that society doesn't want to hear. Do you know what the opposite of art is? Propaganda." - The Red
This review is safe for work. The book isn't.
Mona Lisa St. James made a deathbed promise to her mother, vowing to keep their struggling little art gallery open "at all costs." Months later, she's about to fail the promise and just desperate enough to take up the mysterious Malcolm's (no last name) shockingly straightforward offer: become his, on demand, for the next twelve months and make enough money to save her business. Over the next year, Mona finds out the exact cost of keeping that promise, in explicit detail, and discovers some fascinating secrets about her odd lover and his artwork-themed demands.
I often recommend Ms. Reisz's novels because she doesn't write simple smut (that's right: she writes complicated smut), or syrupy romance, and The Red lives up to my expectations. I love Reisz's work for the depth of character and fascinating navigation through complicated and taboo sexual situations. The underpinnings of the story is an exploration of Mona's value, of her own sense of self-worth that becomes stronger and more pronounced as her boundaries are pushed, and her discovery of what she really wants. It's downright voyeuristically compelling, watching Mona's thoughts and actions evolve with each new level of debauchery.
Oh my God, the debauchery. Make no mistake: this is definitely a Tiffany Reisz erotic novel.
Seriously well written, unapologetic lust exists between those covers. I tossed sleep aside to finish it in a night, and this book is worth it, although I may never look at a bottle of water the same way again. From an erotica perspective, The Red has at least one kink that will appeal to you and at least one that will make you terribly uncomfortable. I know what you're thinking, and I definitely don't mean the "blushing and you hope no one notices because WHY are you reading this in public" sort of uncomfortable.
I mean the uncomfortable where you're certain this particular kink shouldn't be so arousing because it's so dirty, but you're turned on anyway. You'll think about it for days afterward and read it again, and you'll want to recommend it to friends but worry they'll figure out that scene worked for you. THAT sort of uncomfortable.
Of course, part of the fun of reading The Red is discovering which encounters fall under which category for you.
The Red is a standalone novel, available on July 11th, 2017 in paperback and e-formats (Kindle is available for pre-order). If you enjoyed her Original Sinners series I don't have to recommend this one, because you already know exactly why you'll love this book. If you're new to Ms. Reisz's work, I highly recommend picking up The Red as soon as you can: it's an excellent mix of erotica and dominant/submissive dynamics, with a hint of the supernatural for flavor.
The Red is definitely exactly the right sort of dangerous art.