Fairy tales might just come true for porn stars, or at least this seems to be the theme in the erotic novel Spice (Skyhorse 2014) by Jenna Jameson and Jaime K. Schmidt. This is the third and last book in a trilogy (Sugar and Honey) that features former porn stars who find love (and sex) after a career in the adult industry and despite some big obstacles.
The book's main character, Liz Carter (aka. Spice) is a former international porn star and jet setting party girl. Liz leaves her fast track life behind in Los Angeles and moves to New York City after becoming pregnant and ditching her deadbeat boyfriend. We meet Liz as a single mom who is struggling to make ends meet as a graphic designer. She lives a simple life now: no more designer clothes, no more parties and no more sex. Liz is also a breast cancer survivor and the scars of her double mastectomy are a stark reminder. She is not bitter or unhappy about her life, just glad to be alive to watch her nine year old son, Jonathan, grow up.
Times have been hard and Liz often worries about people discovering her past life in pornography and that she and her son will be harshly judged for it. But with great friends from FATE (Faith, Acceptance, Trust and Enlightenment), a support group she created for people transitioning out of the pornography business, Liz can deal with whatever life throws her way. This group also gives her the courage to aspire to earn a college degree to become a therapist.
The one thing sorely missing from Liz's life is love and hot sex. But rest assured, this story delivers the erotic sex scenes with love interest Sean O'Malley. He is the handsome prince, so-to-speak, with an Irish brogue to boot to make him a bit more mysterious, who falls head over heels in love with Liz. Sean is the tough amateur boxer but also shows a sensitive and smart side as a social work Ph.D. student. As a social worker myself, I loved this male character was portrayed as comfortable working in this female dominated profession.
But Sean O'Malley enters Liz's life with many secrets. He is grieving over the death of his younger sister, Mary Katherine, from a drug overdose. After Mary Katherine's passing he is shocked to learn she was a rising porn star and it drives him to answer the question; did the adult industry influence Mary Katherine's addiction to drugs and ultimate cause her death? To learn more, Sean deceptively becomes a member of FATE by posing as a former male stripper to discover the truth about what it's like work in the pornography business.
This story has a little bit of everything, likeable main characters, erotic interludes and a few plot twists. In the age where adult stars are portrayed as dumb, drug addicted, and sluts, the lead character, Liz, is nothing like these negative stereotypes. But, unfortunately, a few ancillary characters are portrayed in this way.
This book also tackles a taboo subject regarding sex after a mastectomy. Even though Liz is self-conscience about the scars left by her mastectomy she takes back her sex life with the support of Sean. This provides a hopeful message for women who might be struggling with intimacy after cancer.
While the book has its positive attributes, at times I found the plot and love story too predictable. If you like a story with more twists and turns you might be bored with this one. I liked the Liz and Sean characters, but I felt they had the potential to be depicted in a richer and more in-depth way. I wanted to know more about their family histories and past relationships which would have better explained their rationales for certain decisions they had made in their lives. These characters always seemed to be presented too superficially.
Spice offers a quick, fluffy read that features interesting sex scenes and it kept me reading to the end to find out what happens next. If you're expecting this to be a great literary work or Hemingway, you will be disappointed. Just accept it for what it is, like a juicy episode of Young and the Restless, and enjoy the read.