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My Need to Read

I love to explore genre fiction, and while I usually go for books with a romantic thread running through it, I just love great character and world building. And since I can hardly stand to let go of my favorite characters, I like series.

Dirty Beautiful - Jodie Becker Rating: 3.5Quick Take:The intriguing premise of Dirty Beautiful delivers quite well on its hints of the balance between love and lust. The male protagonist was the real draw for me--so much so that I would have loved to have seen more focus on his past struggles, which are referred to frequently in the book but not deeply explored. Overall, there's plenty of sexy and sweet, with a likable cast and promising plot threads for future books.Review (Originally posted at Book Lovers Inc):How does a porn actor find love? Dirty Beautiful is a rather straightforward bit of romantica (erotic romance) from Jodie Becker, one that addresses that thought. I’m completely new to this author, but I must say that liked what I read. I dug her premise of an adult film actor trying to escape his past, finding love and acceptance instead.The main character in this book, Dylan Marsden, is just a ball of sweetness. Okay sure, so he was a porn star. But he got into the industry due to financial hardships, and while he was good at it—damn good at it, thankyouverymuch—it never fulfilled him or gave him joy. As such, he escapes the “biz” and moves into a fixer-upper house in a sleepy Georgia town. His hope? Forget the past and live a quite life. Enter a sweet and affable local woman, Erica, who’s everything Dylan never knew he’d want, but who’s already been hurt by a previous lover’s infidelity. How ever shall the two see eye to eye? The main dilemma in this book basically involves a small bit of information that, if revealed, might ruin whatever romance and acceptance that Dylan and Erica were building. In this particular case, I understood and bought into Dylan’s reticence when it came to revealing his past life. I also understood some of Erica’s insecurities and emotional scars.This book presents a convincing portrait of a sleepy Southern town (notice I didn’t say accurate—being a city girl, I have no clue what small Southern towns and must therefore leave that evaluation for small town folks). The cast of personalities that populate this town are charming (or, in the case of the antagonist-for-now characters, compelling), some of which would make for great recurring characters.This story has plenty of steaminess; seeing as how one of the main characters is a former adult film actor, it almost goes without saying. ^_^ But again, there’s a layer of intimacy and sweetness that makes the material so much more compelling. In fact, I think the author does the first- and second-base descriptions best (which is to say, she’s great at steaminess even when not being explicit). ^_^ For a book whose premise is about sexuality, this book does sensuality quite well.And yet, believe it or not, I wish that there was just a bit more focus of Dylan’s former life as an adult film actor. Granted, the book is supposed to focus on the various perceptions others have of him, but he spoke so much about the love-hate relationship with the industry that it would have been interesting to see more of the internal struggles he’d endured (or didn’t perhaps) while he was an active actor.Also, I have to admit that the book wasn’t without some truly cheesy bits (“Her house would smell like Willy Wonka’s because she couldn’t get the willy she wanted.”) and some subplots that didn’t resonate with me.When I initially finished Dirty Beautiful, I didn’t know it was part of a series, so I was scratching my head as to the unresolved plot lines of some of the cast. But lo’ and behold, this is only the first book in a series, which I imagine will be about some of Dylan’s actor friends. I see on Jodie Becker’s website that the next book will feature Max, one of Dylan’s former colleagues. Do I plan on picking that next book up? You bet!