The LDS Eros series has been neglected for a while, but a new book by Moriah Jovan is all that's needed to jump right back in. In case you missed my lengthy comments on her first book or short blurb on her second, her books tend to involve that sex stuff. But more on that after some official-because-they-are-in-italics notices.
(NOTE: Although this book qualifies for protection under my MS POLICY, I will not be treating it in that way for a number of reasons. Most notably, the book is nearly finished, is being released in under three months and, for a third reason, see the following disclaimer.)
(DISCLAIMER: I am Moriah's editor. We have a business relationship. I have mercenary reasons for wanting this book to do well. Keep that in mind.)
008) Magdalene by Morah Jovan, finished January 27
- one month
Well. Where to start?
Let me start with some accolades.
Starting with Moriah's first book, I knew she was a writer to watch. With this book, I think she has arrived. She is now a significant voice.
But a statement like that can only have meaning within a certain context, and so let me clarify my meaning thereof.
Moriah is a romance writer, but I am not ensconced in the romance scene so I can't really comment on her significance within the world of romance. Moriah is a noted expert in ebooks, but "ebooks" is not really a literary scene so much as a technological and marketing scene so the question of vocal significance doesn't seem relevant. Moriah is also a Mormon writer and it here is where my personal knowledge can start to have relevance. Because, in my opinion, Magdalene is, now, three months before its release, already the Mormon book to beat in 2011. Now, I don't know if its sex will be hard for the Whitney Academy, but I really truly hope they do for reasons that are coming right up. I do think AML will give it a fair shake if they get it thrust into their faces by enough eager members, but we'll see. I hope so.
The provocative ad copy for this book is A MORMON BISHOP!!!!! AN EX-PROSTITUTE!!!!! A MAN WITH A VENDETTA!!!!! LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!!!!!!!!! ( !!!!!s not present in original but added by me for extra duper excitement) and that's as good a place to start as any. Because, and this is important, although this book does share characters with her other two books it is not a sequel and you do not need to read them first.
The MORMON BISHOP!!!!! is that most interesting creature that seems to exist more frequently in fiction than in real life, the widower bishop. He's also one of the richest men in America (he's in steel, if you're wondering).
The EX-PROSTITUTE!!!!! (very high end [not a crack whore], if that makes a difference to you) has since gotten her MBA and become a one-woman restructuring machine, moving into floundering companies and gutting them and saving the money from dissipating.
Our two protagonists meet through business and recognize something in each other they've never found before. But, that said and as you might imagine, they have rather different viewpoints on a number of important issues (eg, SEX!!!!!).
Now, it's no spoiler to say that this book has hawt and hevvy sex in it. What may be a spoiler though is that, in my opinion, this sex should not disturb a faithful Mormon audience. Clever people will be able to figure out why.
(If you're new to my LDS Eros posts, let me refer you to Part I which I will be referencing the next few paragraphs. Note though that the definitions I'm using today have different meanings in different posts. Today's definition of "pornography" for instance assumes it's a bad thing. But elsewhere I posit the possibility of a moral pornography. Keep that in mind if you start cross-referencing.)
D.H. Lawrence says that pornography is "the attempt to insult sex, to do dirt on it." Or (to obnoxiously quote myself), porn is "artless and ugly and serves just one purpose: to give your brain an unnatural (and unholy) injection of the sex drug."
This is bad.
Erotica on the other hand we'll describe in this way: while it "may titillate and arouse . . . that is not its sole purpose --- it also desires to be beautiful."
Which is in keeping with a Mormon viewpoint of sexuality, I think. Sex is one of life's beauties and may be celebrated as such.
So the question that will matter to Mormon readers is whether this sex is P or E.
First let's note again that this book has sex, actual sex, not just the-door-closed-and-suddenly-it-was-morning sex, but sex sex.
Second let's add the shocking should-be-a-spoiler-but-everyone-familiar-with-the-book-already-knows-it fact that this book's plot is modeled after the Gospels.
And now let's drop onto this pile of observations that for all the sex and religious allegory and big business deals and the sociopathic badguy and the other bells and whistles that make Magdalene a blast to read --- notwithstanding all of that --- ultimately this is the story of two people who fall in love. It's a character story. And how these characters change is The Whole Story. Really. When you come down to it, everything else is merely trappings to help the author tell her story of two characters and how they change to become one with another.
Forgive me if I state the obvious and say that sex should be part of this story.
Because here's the thing --- no matter how explicit the sex may be, no matter how much of it there may be, this novel does not contain one single sex scene that fails to develop the characters in serious and important ways. Every sex scene --- each and every one of them! --- provides us, as readers, access to the sex-doers' souls. We understand them in a way that can only be accomplished through their physical joining. We learn things about them we would never understand if the camera had cut away.
This sex is about people, not sex. And so no matter how explicit it may be, it is never gratuitous. Which is remarkable, really, that this much sex never drops into justfortheheckofit. Amazing for such explicity to be utterly unexploitative.
Besides the fact that the book is well written, besides the fact that it provides a compelling and accurate look at Mormonism for people unfamiliar with Mormonism, besides the fact that it goes places few Mormon books have gone before --- besides all these things, Magdalene is a significant Mormon book because it deals with subjects we consider sacred (sex is just for starters), places them in a broader world context, and forces readers both outside and inside the faith to consider their significance through an original lens.
This is not a trivial accomplishment. Mormons are always complaining that books appealing to "nonmembers" always present the Church badly or lightly or inaccurately. I for one have always rejected that view and here is a book that proves the point.
Whatever you do, don't let the sex keep you from this landmark (also, don't let the Mormons keep you from this landmark). And, sorry, if you just skip the sex (or the religion) you will not understand the characters. It's just not possible.
For the average national reader, this is a book that will demonstrate that Mormons should be taken seriously. For the average Mormon reader, this is a book that will demonstrate sexuality should be taken seriously.
Magdalene demands our attention and discussion. So don't let my puffery go unanswered. Read it for yourself and let's parse the difference between good and evil.
We'll never know until we eat the fruit.
(The book's not available until April 24, but if you would like a reminder, let me know in the comments. In the meantime, admitting that you don't have much to go on other than what I say, what do you think?)
Previously in 2011 . . . . :
007) Knightfall Part Two: Who Rules the Night by a slew of DC folk, finished January 23
006) Bayou by Jeremy Love, finished January 17
005) Mr. Monster by Dan Wells, finished January 10
004) The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, finished January 6
003) The Mystery of the Dinosaur Graveyard by Mary Adrian, finished January 5
002) Batman - Judge Dredd: Judgment on Gotham by John Wagner and Alan Grant and Simon Bisley, with lettering by the famous Todd Klein; finished January 4
001) Batman: Venom by Dennis O'Neil et al, finished January 2
EDIT: ADDED THIS IMAGE FOR LINKAGE REASONS: