Bodice Rippers & Erotica Book Reviews: Vina Jackson
Vina Jackson sold the rights to her Eighty Days trilogy to Orion for a six figure deal in the hope the books will appear to the millions of Fifty Shades of Gregy and Girl With a One-Track Mind fans. This will further extend the number of books that are categoriesed in the edgy romantic fiction. Fina Jackson is the speudonym for two established writers working together for the first time. One is a successful author, the other a pbulished writer who is also a city professional working in the Square Mile of London. Due to the popularity of the Eighty Days trilogy, Vina Jackson has extended the series to include Eighty Days Amber (the story of Luba), Eighty Days White (the story of Lily). She also has a website.
Eighty Days Amber
Eighty Days Red
Eighty Days Blue
Eighty Days Yellow
Eighty Days Amber by Vina Jackson
Read by Tracy January 2013
Tracy recommends just to see how the story keeps progressing
After having mixed thoughts about the previous three books in this now expanded trilogy, this book is the fourth stand alone book in the series and centres around the charismatic dancer from the previous books 'Luba'. Before she meets and embarks on an adventurous and voltatile relationship with rare amber dealer Chey, we learn about Luba's childhood. How Luba embarked on her career as a ballet dancer after the tragic loss of her parents. She eventually leaves the dreary life in Donetsk to head to America and a life under the immigration radar. Chey walks into the patisserie shop she is working and takes her out of that drudgery but when he does one of his usual disappearing acts she finds herself broke and with the help of one of his friends, she soon finds herself dancing at some not very salubrious venues. Luckily an owner of the private club in New Orleans comes in and Luba is soon spirited to a new adventure where she first meets Summer and Dominik. However, she is still devestated at the disappearance of Chey and unable to fill the void, eventually heads to London where she is back in the sphere of Summer and Dominik and we see how their relationships grew from Luba's perspective. I loved the scenes in London, making me homesick for Camden, Hampstead Heath and Borough Markets. Luckily for Luba the unexpected happens and she is able to start making future plans albeit with some very interesting twists. Were they enough to make me buy the final book in the series, probably as the next character is one that is definately on the periphery and will answer many questions.
Eighty Days Red by Vina Jackson
Read by Tracy January 2013
Tracy recommends as a disappointing end to a promising trilogy
Well the final book in the series and the blurb had me riveted: World-renowned violinist Summer Zahova returns to London - the city where, for her, it all began. Free and single in the hedonistic capital, Summer embarks on a series of steamy affairs, embracing exciting new opportunities and travelling to Europe to fulfil her dreams. When Summer's priceless violin is stolen, fate brings wealthy and charismatic Dominik back into her life. Neither Summer nor Dominik can deny the obsession that still exists between them, but history has left its scars, and both realise that love and passion can't always go hand in hand. Summer knows that if she plays with fire, she'll end up getting burned, but then there are some pleasures that are just too hard to deny...Can Summer and Dominik finally overcome the obstacles that stand between them, and will Summer choose to follow her head or her heart? The unmissable third book in Vina Jackson's red-hot romantic trilogy.
I was really looking forward to this book, especially considering how much better the second book was in the trilogy. Alas, it was disappointing. I felt as if it was rushed and now totally unbelievable (if it wasn't already). It was a lot tamer as if everyone had mellowed to the point of being in a coma. Dominik is now writing his second novel, but it is not progressing as he had hoped. Summer is living in London with a rock star and Luba, who she had met in America in a sort of very strange ménage a trios situation which means that her relationship with Dominik is on the off-again phase. In fact they aren't even in communication, although they do spend a lot of time thinking about each other. I felt this book was written just to tie up loose ends, such as the history of the violin and how it came into Dominik's hands. However, the introduction of a raft of new characters (which I understand are for some new books being written by the authors), don't gel and are there to just fill the gaps.
Eighty Days Blue by Vina Jackson
Read by Tracy January 2013
Tracy recommends as an entertaining summer read
Eighty Days Blue is the second book in the Eighty Days trilogy by Vina Jackson. Yet again the blurb is fantastic: Recently settled in New York, fiery, flame-haired musician Summer Zahova is enjoying life as a violinist with a major orchestra. Under the watchful eye of Simon, her attractive Venezuelan conductor, Summer and her career flourish. But a new city, and her new found success, brings fresh temptations, and it isn't long before Summer is lured back to a dangerous underground world of intrigue and desire that she thought she'd left behind her for good. Meanwhile wealthy university professor Dominik, frustrated by his life in London without Summer, is drawn to New York to be with the woman he now knows he cannot live without. But while Dominik believes he can protect Summer from her dark side, little does he realise that his own passions could end up being far more destructive to them both. The addictive second book in Vina Jackson's bestselling romance trilogy is exciting, enticing and full of surprises.
My Review: I had mixed feelings about the first book (review below) and was relatively non-plussed about reading the trilogy, however, hot weather coupled with a desire to do nothing but read had me opening up the sequel hoping it would be so much better. Eighty Days Blue picks up the story of Summer and Dominik who are a fiery, on again/off again couple who enjoy a bit of a dom/sub relationship. Summer is enjoying her life in New York and as her conductor, Simon, takes more and more of an interest in her, she starts to be recognised as a musician and her career finally starts to take off. However, her rising career trajectory and her reliance on Simon doesn't help her relationship with Dominik and they start to drift apart. Finally the characters are a bit more than two dimensional and there is romance and fun, not just hard core BDSM.
Summer is still confused and although her character grows, you just want to shake her to get her to realise just how lucky she is to be wanted, but she still ventures into the seedy sex industry to fulfil her fantasies. Whereas Dominik has realised he wants Summer and tries his best to juggle his own career to be with her. If only either of them could say how they really feel and not expect the other to have a crystal ball. When Dominik visits Summer, she has given up her life with Victor (creep) but keeps her involvement with him a secret from Dominik. When Dominik returns to London, Summer is lonely and Dominik soon decides to take a sabbatical and take up a research position in New York, but his timing is terrible as Summer is about to embark on a world tour, including a trip to her hometown in New Zealand. As with the feel of this book, the author, put in some more comedy - I thought I was the only person who got stuck next to boring people or screaming children on long haul flights, but now I don't feel so along. When Summer returns to New York, she is confronted by Victor who wants revenge after she left him previously and she ventures back into the BDSM underworld to try and escape Victors clutches once and for all.
This book was much better than Eighty Days Yellow, yes there is still lots of graphic sex, but the relationships are lighter more realistic about emotions, although not perfect by any means, as it still used that different character viewpoint. This all bodes well for Eighty Days Red, the final in the trilogy.
Eighty Days Yellow by Vina Jackson
Read by Tracy January 2013
Tracy recommends that you hang in there, the second book is worth it
As is so often touted on the front of a book - The Eighty Days series (this is the first book) by Vina Jackson is supposedly "in the manner of Fifty Shades of Grey" and yet so isn't. The book synopsis reads: Caught in a frustrating relationship with a man who can't accept her for who she is, passionate, flame-haired violinist Summer finds release in her music. She spends her afternoons busking on the underground, lost in the works of Vivaldi or Mendelssohn. When her violin is damaged beyond repair, Summer receives a surprising proposition from Dominik, a university professor with powerful desires, who has been captivated by Summer ever since he heard her perform. Dominik will replace her priceless violin, but only if she agrees to play for him in a private concert. Unable to deny the chemistry between them, Dominik and Summer embark on an intense affair full of daring twists and turns, as unpredictable as it is thrilling. For Summer it is a chance to finally embrace her long-denied dark side, but she'll soon learn that where there's pleasure must come pain. And can a relationship born of such all-consuming passion, ever really survive? Exhilarating, seductive and tantalisingly bold, EIGHTY DAYS is a love story that will leave you breathless for more.
My review: Summer Zahova is a violinist who is scraping by busking at a train station and any other work she can get, she is in a relationship with Darren, it is a relationship that seems to be based around being together is better than being lonely. Dominik sees Summer playing and when he finds out her violin gets broken in a scuffle, he tracks her down via Facebook and offers to buy her a new violin if she is up to a challenge he sets. Dominik is a professor and independently wealthy, so has plenty of time to device scenarios. They meet at a coffee shop and he gives her the terms and conditions. Initially it isn't about sex, instead it is about Dominik controlled how he wants Summer to play - where, when, clothing (optional), but it soon becomes sexual and frustrating at the same time. Summer agrees to the proposition and they embark on a strange relationship where Summer submits to Dominik’s dominating behaviour. They are so focused on following their desires, they forget about romance and a committed relationship. Summer eventually accepts a position in an orchestra in New York, where she meets up with Victor, a colleague of Dominik’s and starts to become involved in some very dark BDSM including slavery!
Dominik travels to New York to see Summer and they try and work through their issues, but although it seems to be a fairly simple ideal, they can't keep to their resolve. Summer is annoying and can't seem to think ahead, she gets involved in some very bad situations but keeps going back for more.
At the end of the book I wasn't sure there were any characters I particularly liked, they all appeared shallow and only followed their base desires, nobody seemed to really care about anything - in one scene there wasn't even a safe word used. Vina Jackson is a pseudonym for two authors and I wonder if that is why I felt the story was sometimes a bit disjointed. So did it live up to expectations, alas not. At the end of the day, the book is only similar to Fifty Shades in the sexual self-discovery, nothing else. However, I will read the next book in the series to see if it gets better and the characters are allowed to grow.