Smashwords book reviews by AzureGranite

  • Happy Ending on Nov. 05, 2023

    A lot of the fun of reading hotwife books comes from discovering the minor plot elements, and I prefer not to learn any more than the blurb reveals before reading a book. So I'll try to avoid providing any plot details here, and focus instead on structure and meta stuff. Arnica Butler is one of the most prolific authors in the hotwife genre, having consistently produced works since around 2015. She always had special writing talents that lent themselves especially well to this genre: Vivid, visually evocative descriptions; the ability to develop likeable and sexy characters; a "show, don't tell" writing style; sizzling sex scenes; a talent for describing the heroine's clothing; elegant locales and scenarios; rich detail in the narration; and dialogue that's actually stimulating to read. Over time, her writing has only gotten better. Butler began experimenting - very successfully - with longer-form stories, some of them requiring sequels, around 2015. In my opinion, those are the most interesting stories; they allow the reader to "get to know" the hotwife and her husband, get drawn deeper into the story and experience its twists and turns at a pace that builds interest and anticipation. Once in a while, she releases a shorter book, a novella. In a note to the reader in one of her earlier novellas (The Summer Vacation), Butler mentioned that this helps take a break from the more intense work. (Speaking of, Butler seems to have stopped including a note to the reader in her latest books. I vote for her to bring that back; I enjoy reading a bit about the author's process/how the book came about and the feeling of being connected with the author.) Other authors in this genre have also expressed similar sentiments about shorter books. Happy Ending is a novella at about 30K words. This book has a simpler plot, and the events, sex scenes, and reactions from the hotwife are more blunt and overt than most of Butler's writing. There's almost zero tease - very unusual for Butler. The writing style is so much plainer that I had to double-check I was indeed reading an Arnica Butler novel. For all that, it's a great book. It's written in third person, mostly from the wife Justine's POV. That's always fun - makes it less of a tease, provides a more direct view into the details of the wife's thoughts and her interactions with her lover. It felt like the style eased up a bit as the book went along - thought that might just have been me getting used to it. The book is hot overall, with an escalating series of well-written scenes. Despite the editing issues, the last 1/3 really ratchets up the eroticism to a crescendo. A pleasantly erotic read.
  • Learning to Love It on April 19, 2024

    This book is something of a return to form for Arnica Butler after Sharing Katie, which was not up to her usual standards. That book was plain and had a generic feel to the characters, setup, the events, the sex scenes. ~~~~ Learning To Love It is a fairly direct and simple book compared to some of Arnica's other works, but the sparkle is back: there's subtlety and nuance and cool sentences. There are the little surprises and plenty of hotwife-button-pushing moments. There are highlights, micro-surprises, little suspense elements, and other points of interest. Sheila and Booker (the lover) are interesting characters. It's written from both the wife Sheila and the husband Alistair's POVs, although we get more of Alistair's. While Alistair's POV is interesting, I find myself more eager to see Sheila's POV - those are the most interesting sections. ~~~~ This feels very much like the start of a series. This first book promises and teases intensity to come. Hopefully we get a real thrill ride with sufficient meat - length and breadth (heh). At 30K words per installment, I'd hope we get 5-6 episodes at least. That might be wishful thinking - but some of Butler's best work is in her long series where we get to see events and relationships develop and the characters evolve. E.g., the Zoe's Flame series was something like 150K words. The key risk is that it'll end too soon, before we get our fill of the characters. ~~~~
  • Learning To Love It 2 on April 30, 2024

    At the end of Training to Love It Book 1, it seemed like this was the start of a series - but it wasn't made explicit that it was. I'm glad it is indeed a series. This book is an excellent sequel. Hotwifely things develop further in this installment. There's some great self-discovery and exploration and development of relationships and dynamics. ~~~~~ I'm a sucker for slow-burn series and so far, this one has that flavor. It would be interesting to see how far down down the rabbit hole the couple go. A lot of hotwife stories are very SAFE... stuff happens but it feels like there's no real risk. Some of Arnica's books have included risk or some sort of attachment - Zoe's Flame comes to mind, as does the Working on Her Game series. There are others where it's just in the husband's head - that is a bit of a cop-out IMO. Here, the first book hinted at some real danger but so far everything is very worry-free. There were some hints of potential future trouble in this installment though. If it becomes a little dangerous - like in Zoe's flame, but deeper and even darker - rather than remaining a safe titillation, that could really elevate this above other series. ~~~~~ There's plentiful, excellently written, meaningful sex here. Not only are the sex scenes great, they also have significance - they both reveal and drive the evolution of the relationship between Sheila and Booker. ~~~~~ Hopefully Arnica takes this one deep and makes it a long one - I'm dreaming about even 7-8 parts with something like a real conflict/crisis and some sort of rapprochement. These characters are fun and it'd be a pity if the story was cut short too early. And, I'm hoping we get a lot more of Sheila's POV. Both Alistair's and Sheila's POVs are interesting, but we mostly get Alistair's and Sheila's POV is where a lot of the real action is.