Never Loved: A Dark Obsession Novel by Charlotte Stein
Overall Rating: 3 (XXX)
Charlotte Stein tends to write novels that are essentially erotica, but with stronger storylines and more complex characters than your typical literotica. By the way, in preparing to write this review, I was curious as to what category Stein’s ebooks are filed away in on Amazon. They are women’s fiction (psychological) under the general category of literature and fiction and romance (sports). I, of course, had to google what women’s fiction was, and to my surprise it was exactly what it seems—fiction marketed to women (as opposed to fiction written by women). This made me wonder about chic lit, which seems to be another way of saying women’s fiction. Which also made me wonder about erotica, which led me to the term literotica. Can I say, I love the word literotica? It makes so much sense to me. I was going to call this same idea word porn, but come to find out there is a whole twitter and facebook following of word porn that is NOT literotica (please don’t make that potentially embarrassing mistake), but which I nevertheless love too.
Okay, back to Never Loved! Beatrix Becker meets Serge Sorensen while looking for her younger brother. After the siblings finally get out of the abusive control of their father, Bea goes off to college, while her brother sinks into drugs. Serge helps get Bea’s brother into rehab, but he helps him in other ways that he keeps secret from Bea. When Bea finds out that Serge also comes from an abusive family, she finds the courage to overcome Serge’s feelings of unworthiness to convince him to give their relationship a chance. But Serge’s profession of underground fighting comes between them, making it necessary for both Serge and Bea to battle for their love.
I enjoy Stein’s novels primarily because her characters are never blank slates. They always come to relationships (and sex) with scars. The scars her characters have are usually due to extreme tragedy, and that can get old sometimes, but her work really highlights the psychological nature of sex. What we think about sex has so much to do with our past, it only has a little to do with our partner. In this novel, the two main characters struggle with different insecurities regarding sex, but they are both derived from the fact they’ve never been loved. For Bea, all she wants is some kindness. And for Serge, all he wants is to feel accepted. The fact that both the male and the female characters have these insecurities is awesome. While I enjoy a strong alpha male, there is something so wonderful about Serge that I can really see why Bea falls in love with him. Stein’s novels are always tender, and this one is no exception. I love the sweetness between Bea and Serge, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, as I don’t think it’s Stein’s best work. I liked Intrusion the best so far, but I think this could easily be my second favorite.