by Megan Hart


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I met him at the candy store. He turned around and smiled at me and I was surprised enough to smile back. This was not a children's candy store, mind you—this was the kind of place you went to buy expensive imported chocolate truffles for your boss's wife because you felt guilty for having sex with him when you were both at a conference in Milwaukee. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

I've been hit on plenty of times, mostly by men with little finesse who thought what was between their legs made up for what they lacked between their ears. Sometimes I went home with them anyway, just because it felt good to want and be wanted, even if it was mostly fake.

The problem with wanting is that it's like pouring water into a vase full of stones. It fills you up before you know it, leaving no room for anything else. I don't apologize for who I am or what I've done in—or out—of bed. I have my job, my house and my life, and for a long time I haven't wanted anything else.

Until Dan. Until now.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780778314356
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication date: 09/11/2012
Edition description: Original
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 357,167
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Megan Hart is the award-winning and multi-published author of more than thirty novels, novellas and short stories. Her work has been published in almost every genre, including contemporary women’s fiction, historical romance, romantic suspense and erotica. Megan lives in the deep, dark woods of Pennsylvania with her husband and children, and is currently working on her next novel for MIRA Books. You can contact Megan through her website at www.MeganHart.com.

Read an Excerpt

This is what happened.

I met him at the candy store. He turned around and smiled at me. I was surprised enough to smile back.

This was not a children's candy store. This was Sweet Heaven, an upscale, gourmet candy store. No cheap lollipops or chalky chocolate kisses, but the kind of place you went to buy expensive, imported truffles for your boss's wife because you felt guilty for fucking him when you were both at a conference in Milwaukee.

He was buying jellybeans, black only. He looked at the bag in my hand, candy-coated chocolate. Also in one color.

"You know what they say about the green ones." The rakish tilt of his lips tried to charm me, and I resisted.

"St. Patrick's Day?" Which was why I was buying them.

He shook his head. "No. The green ones make you horny."

I'd been hit on plenty of times, mostly by men with little finesse who thought what was between their legs made up for what they lacked between their ears. Sometimes I went home with one of them anyway, just because it felt good to want and be wanted, even if it was mostly fake and they usually disappointed.

"That's an urban legend made up by adolescent boys with wishfulfillment issues."

His lips tilted further. His smile was his best asset, brilliant and shining in a face made up of otherwise regular features. He had hair the color of wet sand and cloudy blue-green eyes; both attractive, but when paired with the smile…breathtaking.

"Very good answer," he said.

He held out his hand. When I took it, he pulled me closer, step by hesitant step, until he could lean close and whisper in my ear. His hot breath gusted along my skin, and I shivered. "Do you like licorice?"

I did, and I do, and he tugged me around the corner to reach inside a bin filled with small black rectangles. It had a label with a picture of a kangaroo on the front.

"Try this." He lifted a piece to my lips and I opened for him although the sign clearly said No Samples. "It's from Australia."

The licorice smoothed on my tongue. Soft, fragrant, sticky in a way that made me run my tongue along my teeth. I tasted his fingers from where they'd brushed my lips. He smiled.

"I know a little place," he said, and I let him take me there.

The Slaughtered Lamb. A gruesome name for a nice little faux-British pub tucked down an alley in the center of downtown Harrisburg. Compared to the trendy dance clubs and upscale restaurants that had revitalized the area, the Lamb seemed out of place and all the more delightful for it.

He sat us at the bar, away from the college students singing karaoke in the corner. The stools wobbled, and I had to hold tight to the bar. I ordered a margarita.

"No." The shake of his head had me raising a brow. "You want whiskey."

"I've never had whiskey."

"A virgin." On another man the comment would have come off smarmy, earned a roll of the eyes and an automatic addition to the "not with James Dean's prick" file.

On him, it worked.

"A virgin," I agreed, the word tasting unfamiliar on my tongue as though I hadn't used it in a very long time.

He ordered us both shots of Jameson Irish Whiskey, and he drank his back as one should do with shots, in one gulp. I am no stranger to drinking, even if I'd never had whiskey, and I matched him without a grimace. There's a reason it's also known as firewater, but after the initial burn the taste of it spread across my tongue and reminded me of the smell of burning leaves. Cozy. Warm. A little romantic, even.

His gaze brightened. "I like the way you put that down the back of your throat."

I was instantly, immediately, insanely aroused.

"Another?" said the 'tender.

"Another," my companion agreed. To me he said, "Very good."

The compliment pleased me, and I wasn't sure why impressing him had become so important.

We drank there for a while, and the whiskey hit me harder than I thought it would. Or perhaps the company made me giddy enough to giggle at his subtle but charming observations about the people around us.

The woman in the business suit in the corner was an off-duty call girl. The man in the leather jacket, a mortician. My companion wove stories about everyone around us including our good-natured bartender, whom he said had the look of a retired gumdrop farmer.

"Gumdrops don't come from farms." I leaned forward to touch his tie, which featured a pattern that upon first glance appeared to be the normal sort of dots and crosses many men wore. I, however, had noticed the dots and crosses were tiny skulls and crossbones.

"No?" He seemed disappointed I wouldn't play along.

"No." I tugged his tie and looked up into the blue-green eyes that had begun vying with his smile for best feature. "They're harvested in the wild."

He guffawed, tilting his head back with the force of it. I envied him the free and easy way he gave in to the impulse to laugh. I'd have been afraid people would stare.

"And you," he said at last. His gaze pinned me, held me in place. "What are you?"

"Gumdrop poacher," I whispered through whiskey-numb lips.

He reached to twirl a strand of hair that had fallen free from my long French braid. "You don't look that dangerous, to me."

We looked at each other, two strangers, and shared a smile, and I thought how long it had been since I'd done that. "Want to walk me home?"

He did.

He didn't attempt to make love to me that night, which didn't surprise me. He didn't try to fuck me, either, which did. He didn't even kiss me, though I hesitated before putting my keys in the door and smiled and chatted with him before saying good-night.

He hadn't asked for my name. Not even my number. Just left me buzzing from whiskey on my doorstep. I watched him walk down the street, jingling the change in his pocket. He faded into the darkness between the streetlamps, and then I went inside.

I thought about him the next morning in the shower while I washed the scent of smoke from my hair. I thought about him while I shaved my legs, my pits, the curling dark hair between my legs. When I brushed my teeth I caught sight of my face in the mirror and tried to imagine seeing my eyes as he had.

Blue with flecks of white and gold visible upon closer observation. A feature many men praised, perhaps because telling a woman she has pretty eyes is a safe way of judging whether they can next move on to putting a hand on her thigh. He hadn't mentioned them. He hadn't, actually, complimented me on anything other than the way I'd drunk the whiskey.

I thought about him as I dressed for work. Plain white panties, comfortable in cut and fabric. Matching bra, a hint of lace, enough to make it pretty but designed to support my breasts rather than flaunt them. A black skirt cut just above the knee. A white blouse with buttons. Black and white, as always, to make the choices easier and because something about the pure simplicity of black and white soothes me.

I thought about him on the ride to work, my headphones tucked inside my ears to discourage random conversation from strangers. The shield of modern times. The ride was no longer than it ever had been, nor shorter, and I counted the stops the way I always did and gave the bus driver the same smile.

"Have a good day, Miss Kavanagh."

"Thanks, Bill."

I thought of him, too, as I climbed the cement steps to my office and pushed through the doors precisely five minutes before I was due in my office.

"You're late today," said Harvey Willard, the security guard. "An entire minute."

"Blame the bus," I told him with a grin I knew would make him blush, though the blame was not upon the bus but upon my distracted gait that had made me slow.

Up the elevator, down the hall, through my door, to my desk. Not one thing was different, but everything had changed. Not even the columns of numbers in front of me could wrest my mind from the puzzle he'd presented.

I didn't know his name. Hadn't given him mine. I'd thought it would be easy, two strangers looking to fill a mutual need. A standard seduction. One that didn't need names to complicate it.

I didn't like men knowing my name, anyway. It gave them a sense of power over me they didn't deserve, as if by gasping out my name when they jerked and spasmed they could cement the moment in place and time. If I had to give a name, I gave them a false one, and when they shouted it out in come-hoarse voices it never failed to make me smile.

I wasn't smiling today. I was distracted, disgruntled, discombobulated…I'd have been disenchanted if I'd ever been enchanted to begin with.

I worked the problem in my mind like I'd figure a calculation. Separate the equations, decipher the individual components, add the pieces that made sense and divide them by the parts that didn't. By lunchtime I still hadn't been able to relegate him to a memory.

"Hot date last night?" Marcy Peters, she of the big hair and tiny skirts, asked. Marcy is the sort of woman who will always refer to herself as a girl, who wears white pumps with too-tight jeans, whose blouses always show a little too much cleavage.

She poured herself another cup of coffee. I had tea. We sat at the small lunchroom table and peeled open sandwiches delivered from the deli, hers tuna and mine, as usual, turkey on wheat.

"As always" came my reply, and we laughed, two women bound in friendship not from qualities in common or mutual interests but because our alliance forms the cage that protects us from the sharks with whom we work.

Marcy fends off the sharks with a blunt and unassuming, forthright presentation of her femininity. Of herself as woman all-powerful, all-intriguing, allencompassing. She is blond and buxom and not above using her attributes to get what she wants.

I prefer a more discreet approach.

Marcy laughed at my response because the Elle Kavanagh she knows does not go on dates, hot or otherwise. The Elle Kavanagh of her acquaintance, junior vice president of corporate accounting, makes the cliche of the lady-librarian-with-spectacles-and-bun look like Lady Godiva.

Marcy doesn't know anything about me, or my life outside the walls of Triple Smith and Brown.

"You hear the news about the Flynn account?" This was Marcy's idea of lunchtime conversation. Gossip about other employees.

"No," I said to appease her and because she always did manage to dig up the best stories.

"Mr. Flynn's secretary sent the wrong files over to Bob, who's handling the account, right?"

"All right."

Glee danced in Marcy's eyes. "Apparently, she e-mailed Mr. Flynn's private expense account, not the corporate one."

"It has to get better."

"Apparently, Mr. Flynn likes to keep track of how many hundred-dollar hookers and bootleg cigars he buys!" She wriggled in her seat.

"Bad news for Mr. Flynn's secretary, I guess."

Marcy grinned. "She's been blowing Bob on the side. He didn't tell Mr. Flynn."

"Bob Hoover?" That was unexpected news.

"Yeah. Can you believe it?"

"I guess I can believe anything of anybody," I told her honestly. "Most people are far less discriminating about who they take to bed than you'd think."

"Oh, really?" She gave me a ferrety look of interest. "And you'd know this because.?"

"Pure conjecture." I pushed away from the table and threw away my trash.

Marcy didn't look disappointed, only more intrigued.


I gave her a sweet and bland smile, and left her alone to meditate on my mysterious sex life.

The fact is, people are far less discriminating in who they fuck than anyone wants to admit. Appearance, intelligence, a sense of humor, wealth, power…not everyone has these qualities, and fewer have more than one. But here's the truth. Fat, ugly and stupid people get laid, too, the media just doesn't report on it like they do when the lovers are gorgeous film stars. Men don't need to be clobbered over the head with the sight of your tits to know you're looking for action. Even pent-up librarian types can get fucked with their panties around their ankles and a brick wall scraping bloody welts on their backs.

At least, this one can.

Or at least I'd been able to three years ago, which was the last time I'd gone out looking. I hadn't been looking for action at Sweet Heaven, merely jonesing for chocolate. So why, then, had I let him take me away? Why had I asked him to walk me home and been so disappointed when he left me on the doorstep with nothing but a wave?

That I hadn't been looking to find someone that day only exacerbated my private torture. If I'd found him in a bar instead of Sweet Heaven, if my hair had been loose about my shoulders, if my blouse had been unbuttoned, would he have asked to come inside my door? Come inside my body? Would he have kissed me on the stoop, his hands slipping around my waist and pulling me against him tight? I would never know.

I thought of him all that day and all the next, and the wanting of him grew and grew in my mind like pouring water into a vase filled with stones. Thinking of him consumed my waking moments and seeped into my dreams, leading to sweaty nights amongst tangled sheets.

I studied my face incessantly, wondering what he had seen that day to take me from the candy store and to the pub, but not to bed. Had I failed somehow? Had I said some wrong thing, revealed some flaw, laughed too loudly or not quickly enough at his humor?

I knew I was obsessing. That's what I did. Turned things over and over in my brain to pick them apart from every angle. Analyzed and calculated and pondered.

I could not forget the way his breath smelled when he leaned over to whisper in my ear, "Do you like licorice?"

I could not forget the warmth of his hand on mine when he congratulated me for downing that first shot of whiskey.

I could not forget the flash of his blue-green eyes or the small but perfect cleft in his chin or the faint freckles on the bridge of his nose and forehead or his voice and laugh, the slow deep honey of it that had made me want to lean against him and rub myself on him the way cats do, purring.

The last time I picked up a man in a bar and let him take me home, he'd ejaculated all over my skirt and cried beer-scented tears all over my face. Then he'd called me names and demanded I pay him back for the drinks he'd bought me. It had been one last bad encounter in a string of them. Boys who didn't know what to do with their pricks, older men who thought two seconds of fingering counted as foreplay, sweet-faced lads who turned into abusive bastards the moment the doors locked behind them.

Celibacy had become the better option. A challenge I set myself that became habit. The day I'd met him in Sweet Heaven it had been three years, two months, a week and three days since I'd had sex.

Now, with thoughts of him on my mind, that nameless stranger, I couldn't stop thinking of sex. A man I passed on the street could catch my gaze and my cunt would clench like fingers closing on a flower. My nipples rubbed with constant friction against my bras. My panties tugged incessantly at my clit, urging me to stroke that small button over and over, no matter the place or the time or the circumstance.

I was horny.

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Dirty 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 192 reviews.
SamanthaP More than 1 year ago
Darkly Erotic! Wonderful Book! I wasn't prepared for how emotionally deep this book was. Elle is a beautiful, very intelligent VP for and accounting firm. Elle knows she is beautiful so to offset unwanted advances from men, she dresses very conservatively. The mystery of her past relationships is revealed slowly as the story progresses. This story is told in first person from Elle's point of view and it needed to be because Elle has a lot of issues. She has erected a tough exterior shell to help protect her fragile interior. Ella wants sex on her terms cause she has an issue with feeling dirty. Though she is has no problem with having sex with strangers, she has a major problem with emotional attachments. She meets Dan at the candy store and things begin to change. There is an instant attraction between Dan and Elle that neither of them can deny or explain. Dan often says to Elle, "What are you, Elle? Are you a ghost? Are you an angel or a demon? Because you can't be real." The problem lies in that the pain that Elle struggles with is all too real. Dan proves time and time again that he has the patience to deal with a woman that won't allow him to kiss her on the lips. Neither pair of lips, if you get my meaning. Dan stole my heart as Elle continued to break it. I usually don't like my smut mixed with deep emotionally distressing subjects. I don't wanna be sexually stimulated and crying five minutes later. That being said, I loved this story of growth and acceptance because that's what this book was truly about. Yes, there was a lot of hot sex, but that was just the outer crust. The interior however, was full of betrayal, pain, and yearning. A woman yearning to be normal, hoping to feel clean, and learning to be able to love.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once again harriet klausner ruins another book. This poster must be stopped. She thinks it is her duty to reveal every plot point in the book. I for one am sick of her. Call bn and report this plot spoiling poster. I think when bn realizes she is costing them money on lost sales they will ban her egotistical self from posting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is the kind of book every woman should read. It brings out a different side to yourself realizing there is nothing wrong with being in touch with your more sexual side. Also it is impossible to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my second megan hart book (the first was broken) and i cannot wait to read more. Her writing style causes one to really feel the emotions the characters are going through. As another author so eloquently put it, " even the f* cked up deserve a Happily Ever After". This seems to be the common theme with Hart's books and i love rooting for the emotionally damaged :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of those books that will make u think long after u r done..the main character, Elle, is extremely complex and interesting. You are frustrated, empathetic, sad and a whole bunch of other emotions for her at the same time. Mind you, this is a very expletive and erotic book as well, but it is more than that. The other is why I loved it so much. I read it very quickly and am still thinking about it hours later. Very good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very real and flawed main character...you rooted for her along the way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It was something I did not expect to like. But once I started to understand the story I could not put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book, well written. Trying to find more to read by Megan Hart, unable to pick which one I want to read next! I guess I will have to read them all =)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story line was pretty good, but the ending felt rushed. Nevertheless it was a decent read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable ! I have been reading classical romance and historical fiction for years . It's been so much fun reading erotica since fifty shades( my first time..ugh).  Dan might be my favorite! Remember these books are fun.. Not Jane Austen.  I give it 5 stars because of its entertainment value..
Guest More than 1 year ago
Even though I can't stand novels written in the first-person viewpoint, I was hooked from the first chapter. I loved her writing style tremendously not a single boring page. I loved Elle, and I fell in love with Dan. Emotionally captivating, and sexy.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
vampiregirl76 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dirty was a book I've been wanting to read ever since I seen it featured in RT Magazine, it's just taken me a while to get around to it.It took me a while to like the lead, Elle. At times she was frustrating, and the girl definitely has issues. Elle has a bit of a dark past, which really explains why she acts the way she does. Dan on the other hand is at first mysterious, but he's just a really sweet guy and I liked him right away. I did think he was almost too perfect. Although the more I read the more I found myself rooting for him.Elle and Dan's story is steamy, sexy and at times very dark and heart wrenching. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys Erotic Romance. Some might think that since this is an Erotic story its all sex. But that is really so far from the truth. It has a deep and emotional back story, that might surprise some readers.
VirginiaGill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was not at all what I was expecting (mindless titillation), it was a gripping read. Not sure what the e-book equivalent of reading something cover to cover in one sitting is but that's what I did. What this woman's struggle to put the past in its place and move forward in life with an open heart felt like a priveledge. It's a book I will no doubt read again soon.
risadabomb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very entertaining and gritty read. This was my first Megan Hart book but will definitely not be my last.
reneebooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a much harder review to write than the one I did for Broken. Elle Kavanaugh is a very troubled young woman and even though this book is written in first person we don't really know what's going on. Somewhere around a third of the way into the book I started to decipher all the signals and hints which had raised my suspicions. By the halfway point I had figured out the main issue and although the subject is a difficult one for most women, I couldn't put the book down.Elle is not a likable person or admirable in any way. She doesn't act wisely and seems self destructive. Well, actually she is self-destructive and that right there is a big hint and should set off the alarm bells in your brain. When we first meet Elle we find out that she has been celibate for 3 years but before that had been having frequent anonymous sex. It was strange how the way Ms. Hart wrote this made me feel like I was inside Elle's head but she wasn't telling me what I really wanted to know ..... mainly my question was "Why?" Eventually I had to figure it out for myself.Elle meets Dan Stewart in a candy store. They start dating but their relationship takes weeks to become sexual. Elle can't do emotional intimacy so she treats their relationship like those anonymous sexual encounters from years ago. Some reviews I've read on this book thought Elle's voice read rather flat but I had the opposite reaction. I thought it was very emotional and very thought provoking especially after I figured out her issues. It was difficult and sometimes painful to read but I have to agree with Janine from DearAuthor when she describes the tone of the book this way: ...this delivery showed Elle¿s numbness, her emotional armor, in a way that a different tone would not have.That about sums it up.Dan wants more intimacy and Elle wants less. Eventually they figure out why she pushes him away and they have a happy ending but it was not an easy journey. The resolution of their problems was dealt with very realistically and some readers might feel it's a bit too real. The cover calls it "An Erotic Novel" and the sex scenes are burning but some of them were not really "sexy", if you know what I mean. Well, maybe you don't. Anyway, this book isn't for everyone but I found it satisfying and was convinced of Dan and Elle's future happiness. If you want to read something a little deeper or if you enjoyed Hart's Broken, you might consider giving this book a try. GRADE: B+
LynnB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Elle is a 29 year old career woman dealing with the effects of abuse, having grown up in a dysfunctional family. This story is told from her perspective as she faces the demons of her past. She is a very real and believable character, and I loved her story.The other characters, as often is the case in first-person narratives, are less well developed but the book kept me interested. At least 'til I'd figured out the family secret, and then the story continued to the usual "boy loses girl, boy gets girl back" conclusion, which was a relatively weak ending to an otherwise good story.
kulikuli on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My first Megan Hart but not the last. Sexy, gritty, and.....Dirty! I felt Elle's loneliness and fell in love with Dan as she did (although I admitted my love way before she did). Erotica with something more than mindless sex (there was plenty, don't get me wrong). EROPLOTICA.
amf0001 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent protagonist. I usually don't like books told in the first person, and especially not erotica, but this works very well. My only criticism is that while Elle is a complex and interesting heroine, Dan was less well realized, perhaps because we only saw him through Elle's own perspective, but he was just a 'good man' with a fragile sexual woman, who worked through her defenses while encouraging her sexuality. A keeper.
lauren_dane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First of all, right up front, Megan is one of the people on the planet I flat out adore. Seriously. Very few people can make me laugh like Megan can. She¿s just a joy to be around and I¿m thankful to count her among my close friends. Secondly - this book is amazing. I mean, when I first read it, I had to put it down and pick it up and read it again immediately. Yep, I was fortunate enough to have seen this book from the seeds to final product and it¿s been stellar from day one. This story gets under my skin. It¿s fragile and deep and beautiful and sad and joyous. It IS a romance - you know how I can say that? I¿ve read it. I¿ve read people talking about what the book is and isn¿t but they haven¿t read it. Is it a traditional romance? It does have a romantic resolution, it does have the couple together at the end and happy. Nothing about this book is what I¿d think of as traditional though. It¿s, I don¿t know how to describe it really. Elle is one of those characters that once I read her, she stuck with me. I didn¿t like her all the time, she¿s very flawed. But all humans are flawed and she¿s got reason to be. And yet, she rises above and overcomes. Elle is probably one of the most three dimensional and compelling characters I¿ve ever read.And Dan, oh sigh. I lurve Dan. He¿s so not your typical chest beating alpha male. Oh he¿s a man, masculine, sexy, smart, just enough wicked to make you all tingly. But he sees Elle, sees her in a way that makes her freak because it¿s hard to be known like that. This is not ¿a woman¿s sexual journey.¿ There is sex, very well written sex that is in some places, so insightful and raw that it made my nerves a bit jangly because Megan has this way of writing that simply distills so much emotion and sensory information down into a few pages - it¿s vivid and sharp and unforgetable.I suppose that¿s Dirty in a nutshell - vivid, sharp and unforgetable. When I read the first draft of this book, I knew it was something special. Not just good, not even just great, but one of those books every author dreams of writing someday. Megan has outdone herself. Do yourself a favor - Amazon is shipping now and it¿s already in stores here and there with the official release on the 1st - grab it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Much more than your standard erotica
Dianadomino More than 1 year ago
I expected light erotica, I didn't expect to like the book, and I thought I would put it down after the first few pages. But the beauty of a free sample of a book is that you can give up after a few pages, or you can become totally hooked. This book was very erotic. There was a beautiful shamelessness about the sexy bits that were wonderful and refreshing. And the best part was the story: there was an actual plot. There was a secret in Elle's life that needed to be explored - so at the beginning, Elle is a lusty, yet disappointed woman who is scarred and afraid of real intimacy---not afraid of sexuality, but of actual intimacy. Discovering Elle's secrets was what drew me through the book the way it did. This book is a page-turner - and don't be afraid of the sexy bits. They're lovely. This is not only well-written, but thoughtfully and carefully done. I look forward to many more encounters with this author.
AustenStudent More than 1 year ago
Elle is an accountant but who sleeps with lots men to escape the turmoil of her past sexual abuse. Instead of drinking, it’s the only time her mind is totally blank, except for counting, which she has been doing since she was a teen. She counts to calm herself. It’s logical and soothing to her. It’s also obsessive. This is revealed slowly through the story and Hart gives us hints here and there that keep the reader wondering whatever happened to Elle. “I stopped smiling. Counting helped, and counting food helped more. Bites of cake. Pieces of popcorn. I shielded myself in layers of fat and clothing, hiding the beauty…Nobody asked me what was wrong.” She feels dirty, hence the title. It also refers to the raunchy and graphic sex throughout the book, including a ménage that Dan gives Elle what he thinks she wants) arranges. Elle’s own bitter mother tells Elle she’s dirty. Poor girl. Despite the abuse, her parents didn’t help her. With Dan, Elle finally meets her match. He won’t go away, first accepting a purely sexual relationship with Elle until he slowly pushes her to want more with him. Because Elle seeks sex for escape she shies away from intimacy and she is up front with Dan about this from the start of their relationship. Elle must do this on her own terms and it’s a testamant to Dan’s patience that he waits for her to come to him. Elle admire this about him–he pushes her, he doesn’t just comply–and ultimately he breaks down her boundaries and makes her want to share everything with him. “Why is kindness so much harder to believe than cruelty?” Elle was once in love and the breakup devastated her into thinking no one would ever accept her past. Until Dan. “Head over heels, madly, passionately, devastatingly in love with the boy I thought might be my knight in shining armor. Funny thing about that shining armor, by the way. It tarnishes pretty fast.” Elle lives an almost monastic and minimalist existence. Her walls are painted pure white, she only wears black and white clothing, and she’s very thin. Personally, I didn’t like this part of the story as contributing to her isolation; I just thought she liked her simple life, including her work uniform. Some people do like that. But it works with the story because, as soon as Elle opens up to Dan, she makes changes, including painting her dining room in a color and communicating more with her mother. There are allusions to The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, a book I haven’t read but those who have will enjoy. Elle was forced into adulthood before her time through tragic circumstances and I like how Hart weaves this allegorical tale into an erotic novel. The sex between Dan and Elle is very hot, edgy, impersonal at first but slowly growing closer. It’s interesting that Elle refuses to let Dan either kiss her or go down on her, but Hart again gives us glimpses into Elle’s boundaries. Her fears and pain are overwhelming and palpable and they permeate every page of this taut novel. It’s also very sad but I found myself hoping for the best for Elle. Hoping she would eventually triumph and heal. I also like how neither Dan nor Marcy, her bubbly co-worker who becomes her closest friend, give up on trying to draw her out, pushing her to happiness. For the rest of this review: http://bit.ly/1RrmLds
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good writing style. Best book by rlthis author is still switch. Loved