Book Review

Decadent by Shayla Black


Title: Decadent
Author: Shayla Black
Publication Info: Berkley 2007
ISBN: 9780425217214
Genre: Erotica/Erotic Romance, Romance, Science Fiction/Fantasy

(Warning: Massive spoilers for this book lie under the fold, as well as a link to a LOLPORN photo. Read on at your own peril.)

Reading Decadent deafened me.

Have you ever had that experience before? You finish reading a book and you feel just a bit numb. Your brain is ringing the way your ears do when leaving a venue with a terrible sound system, after watching a band that’s far too fond of playing very loudly and not nearly fond enough of playing with skill. I haven’t read too many novels that do that to me, so I attempted to analyze why Decadent inspired that reaction, and what I finally figured out was this:

The book was written in such a way that its ideal narrator was the Summer Blockbuster Guy.

“This summer… An innocent beauty learns the price of earning the love she thinks she wants… is finding love in a place she never expected.”

“This summer… A hardened soldier of fortune discovers that gaining the girl of his dreams… means letting go of the girl in his past.”

“This summer… A girl becomes a woman… and learns she can preserve her virginity… by having anal sex with two men.”

“HANG ON,” I can almost hear you saying. “You’re just making shit up, now. Candy, your slice-n-dice reviews have gone too far.”

Psh. You think I’d kid about something that important? You think I would make a crass joke about teh buttsecks to illustrate how incredibly silly this book is? Trust me. I’m not even remotely kidding about that last bit. In fact, there’s no way I can convey how silly this book is. It is so silly that I expected Graham Chapman to appear in Colonel regalia, declaring that this book was too silly to continue.

Alas, the latter would indicate that this book was funny. And it’s not. I initially read this book as a bit of high camp and was able to maintain this mindset (and therefore enjoy it to some degree) for about one third of the way, because the plot was too deliciously cock-eyed for me to take seriously: Kimber Edgington, the heroine, is in love with Jesse McCall, her childhood sweetheart (whom she hasn’t seen in almost a decade—whom she knew only for a summer when she was a kid, really). Jesse happens to be an international rock star with a taste for threesomes. Not the usual boy-girl-girl threesomes that are the stuff of fantasy for millions of males, of course. This dude’s into two guys and a girl. (Structuring this story any other way would’ve involved TEH GAY for the heroine.) So Kimber, in her quest to prove her everlasting love and commitment, decides she needs tutoring in the Ways of the Double Penetration, and seeks out Deke Trenton, a mercenary who used to work for her father and who apparently has a thing for threesomes.

(How does she know this? One of the more hilarious aspects of Deke’s fetish for this bit of vanilla kink is how everybody seems to know about it, from sheltered girls in their twenties to random people in bars to the Kimber’s brothers to Kimber’s dad. Seriously: every time somebody finds out that Kimber is having a relationship with Deke Trenton, there’s usually some sort of horrified gasp (or inarticulate rage on the part of the brothers), followed by “Do you know what he’s into?” It makes me wonder how in the hell they’d find out something like that. Does the dude have a Wikipedia page? If he did, I’d love to see his history/discussion pages.)

And when I say “he has a fetish for threesomes,” I mean it in the clinical sense. (The pedants in the audience will note that the fetish isn’t, strictly speaking, a fetish, because it refers to a sex act instead of an object or a body part. Look, just go along with me, all right? Pretend I said “paraphilia” and call it a day.) Seriously, Deke can’t work his dirk of manly passion unless he has additional male company. No, I’m serious. This dude hath not a workable stiffy unless another dude is there. Specifically, his cousin, celebrity chef Luc Traverson. This initially perked my interest—was Luc the Piers Gaveston to Deke’s Edward II, except kind of incestuous, which would make it somewhat more kinky? Alas, no. The true reasons why these two paragons of masculinity engage almost exclusively in threesomes are both much more hilarious and much more repulsive than using a woman as a conduit to express homosexual urges. But more on that later.

So I trucked along for a while, wallowing cheerfully in the terrible plot, but after a while, the sheer weight of the terrible prose crushed my sense of humor. The only comfort left to me was reading the more ludicrous parts out loud to friends.

The part that broke me? The part that made me throw my hands up and say “I give up”? Was when Kimber decides that her virginity is so special, she needs to save it for Jesse. And by “save her virginity,” I totally mean “have copious amounts of loud, sweaty, multi-orgasmic anal sex with two men she’s known less than a week.”

If this had been written with any sort of tongue in cheek tone, or with any sort of nod or wink to the sorts of people for whom anal sex is somehow a culturally acceptable way of preserving a façade of sexual purity (read: stupid, horny teenagers for whom obeying the letter of the law is much more important than adhering to the spirit), I would’ve cheered it for the bit of high camp it was. Unfortunately, the story tried to sell the heroine as being a smart, spirited young woman a little too hard while showing just the opposite in every turn.

Come on, now. Preserving your virginity with buttsecks. Look, I’m all for people enjoying the hell out of anal sex, and I’m all for people having it with as many partners as they can stand at one time. Just don’t pretend that you’re somehow protecting your sexual purity by having it—whatever sort of definition of “sex” you may subscribe to, I’m pretty goddamn sure just about everyone would agree that that having a man stick his cock up your ass qualifies as “having sex” with him.

But wait, there’s more! Deke, besides being incapable of fucking a woman unless Luc is there (NOT GAY NO NOT AT ALL), has a really, really strange complex about virgins. Namely, he’s convinced that fucking a virgin in the va-jay-jay means she’ll die. This is made into a Really Big Deal, and is also part and parcel of his sexual dysfunction in general and with Kimber in particular (NO REALLY NOT AT ALL GAY). This results in the best conversational exchange in any erotic romance novel, ever, when Kimber finally offers to allow Deke entrance into her cinnabar cavern of feminine wonder (because what she feels for Deke is even more speshul than what she feels for Jesse), and Deke, after pondering and sweating and struggling over this decision heroically, takes decisive action:

“Fuck!” he snarled.

He tilted her up again, her legs now resting on his shoulders, and positioned himself and began to push.

Into her back entrance.

Kimber drew in a great, shocked gasp, her hazel eyes wide. “Deke?”

“What the hell are you doing?” Luc barked.

Tensing a little more with every inch he pushed inside Kimber’s tight passage, the tendons on his neck standing out, the muscles in his arms shaking, assailed by the amazing sensations of being slowly enveloped by her tight, ready flesh, Deke could barely form a word. “Fucking her ass. Saving her life.”


Wow. Talk about a lifesaving procedure you’ll never see on-camera on, say, Grey’s Anatomy.

But wait, there’s more! When I read this part aloud to my friend Ben (who was the first victim of many), his immediate response, after he’d picked himself up from the floor, was “I’m in ur ass, saving ur life.”

And being the enterprising nerd that he is, he actually hunted down a picture and captioned it, LOLCat-style.
(Warning: the picture is pornographic. It seriously is. Don’t click on it, for the love of God, if you’re anywhere in the office, or if there are little kids or animals or sweet, sheltered little old grandparents within a direct line of sight of your monitor.)

So behold! The first instance of LOLPorn found on Smart Bitches.

Recovered from that yet?


Too bad.

After that marvellous bit of characterization, the story chugs along completely predictable lines: Kimber is dumped brutally by Deke (who’s utterly freaked out at how attached he has become), after which she promptly reunites with Jesse, finds him to be not at all what her memories have made him to be, and is repulsed by Jesse’s regular threesome partner, a pretty boy with tattoos who drinks before lunch—evidence of moral turpitude if we’ve ever seen it.

And then a wacky suspense plot springs up out of nowhere and ambushes the rest of the storyline, putting Kimber in danger (remember, kids: it’s never acceptable to have the heroine save the hero’s ass, because that might mean he’s a pansy who can’t get it up unless another man’s also…oh, wait). All of this is a convenient way of getting Deke back together with Kimber so he can open up about his Deep, Dark, Loathsome, Virgin-Killing past—the explanation for why he never fucks virgins, and why he always has to have a wingman in bed. Are you ready for the secret?

Back when Deke was a teenager, he de-virginized his beautiful but highly unstable girlfriend, who became pregnant, got crazy, and killed herself.

That’s it. That’s the big, dark, tormented secret of Deke’s past. Which is actually a pretty good tormented secret, except that his reactions are both nonsensical and morally repulsive. When you attempt to unpack the implications, you come up with the following:

1. His avoidance of sleeping with virgins only makes sense if you accept that virgins are much more likely to become pregnant than other women. Because it’s not as if there’s such a thing as fertile non-virgins, or, you know, BIRTH CONTROL THAT WORKS RELIABLY.

2. Deke needs another man in bed so that if the woman becomes pregnant, he’d have another man to blame. Because in Deke’s universe, paternity tests, like birth control, do not exist.

In case you’re thinking that I’m inferring point number 2, let me assure you that I’m not. I am, in fact, quoting “another man to blame” verbatim from the book.

I could go on, but I think you get the point: this book is a trainwreck of unintentional hilarity. If ever there was a book ripe for MST3K treatment or a drinking game (take a shot every time a character starts a musing with “Damn”), this would be it. The sex scenes are pretty hot, I’ll give it that, but even those are subject to gems like “Fucking her ass. Saving her life.”

If you’re really into copious quantities of sweaty, distressingly hetero buttsex and a menage that wimps out in the end, you might enjoy this book. Me? I’m still recovering from the LOLPorn.

And really, if I had to summarize the book, I think the look on the porn actress’s face in the LOLPorn photo says it all.

Comments are Closed

  1. mlg says:

    So here I am, minding my own business, finishing a paper and sending it off and I decide to check out any new posts. Either I am hallucinating or that book actually exists. So I thank you , Candy, for the laughter and for saving ours lives by taking the metaphoric ass fucking of reading this book.

  2. kyra says:

    Hilarious review!  You owe me a new keyboard, though, ‘cause mine now has coffee spewed all over it.

  3. Eirin says:

    Now there’s a whole new avenue (heh!) to explore for guys who want to talk their girlfriends into having buttsex:

    “Honey, I love you. Let me save your life!”

    Also, LOLPorn!!!

  4. annemjw says:

    Can’t. Stop. Laughing.

    Oh my. Sometimes, you hear about romance novels so crappy that you have to read them, just because it’s a challenge. But this? I’m not sure even I could read this, and I’ll read damn near anything once.

  5. Bernita says:

    One word: crap.

  6. Danielle says:

    Her expression in the lolporn is hilarious. Hee!

    It makes me wonder how in the hell they’d find out something like that. Does the dude have a Wikipedia page? If he did, I’d love to see his history/discussion pages, because god knows he’s one hot mess.
    I love these reviews. So much.

    I must say I’m somewhat squicked by Deke’s I-cannot-devirginise-you-so-surprise-buttsecks!, because (from the excerpt I’ve seen) he doesn’t stop to check if she’s okay with that first. (Or to add lube, either, come to think of it.) That’s not considerate or caring. Chalk a big minus mark in the hero column, imo.

  7. omg.  wow. just. wow.  *blinking*

    Way to, um, take one for the team, Candy.  S’riously.

  8. KimberlyD says:

    I’m with Danielle on this. The virgin needs lube, dude. Of course, in comparison to the rest of the review, that is fairly minor I suppose. I hope you know that I have to find and read this book. I don’t want to call you a liar, but I can’t believe this book exists until I find it for myself.

    And LOLPorn just made my morning. Seriously.

  9. KTG says:

    Okay, now that I’m pretty sure my neighbors heard me guffawing over here…

    OMG! I have to read this book and then send it to people, so they can share in the WTFery!

  10. LOLporn FTW!!! 

    And about Dick—er, I mean Deke—just ‘cuz a guy can’t get wood without another guy in bed, lurves buttsecks and is terrified of the va-jay-jay doesn’t mean he’s GAY.  Why the hell would you even consider teh gay?  It’s totally hetero!

  11. If ever there was a book ripe for MST3K treatment or a drinking game (take a shot every time a character starts a musing with “Damn”), this would be it.

    The Loinfire Club are right on it. We’ll send you results should we not die of drink first.

  12. lisabea says:

    OK. I think the disclaimer of, you know, THIS IS REAL PRON, should come before the actual link so retarded readers, such as myself, don’t click prematurely.


  13. MamaNice says:

    I’m quite sure I enjoyed reading Candy’s review much more than I’d ever enjoy reading the book…much much more.

    mlg – oops! Always read everything first before taking action. Even (or especially) with LOLPorn.

    Speaking of LOLPorn; that poor chick – she’s like, “Um, dude? I think you missed.”

  14. tudorpot says:

    Thank you for the witty, funny public service announcement- saving innocent romance readers from the awful.

  15. “Was it good for me?”

    How the hell can it be good for me when my sides hurt from laughing, there’s coffee sprayed on the monitor and the dog is barking hysterically ‘cause I look like I’m having fits at the keyboard?

    Yes, just another typical Monday morning.  With LOLPorn.

  16. Lorelie says:

    Oh how the mouse hovers over the lolporn link and oh how my finger hovers over the button.

    I wanna click!

    But I’m just hoping for a transfer from my job, not to get fired, so no clicky for me.  🙁

  17. DS says:

    I loooked at the LOLPron.  That’s a remarkably clean and new looking rug they are doing it on.  Do you suppose this was shot in a discount store after hours?

  18. rebyj says:

    Two erect fellas in her bed and just taking it up the butt?? That’s taking a female fantasy and turning it into ………a gay man’s fantasy?  K-y jelly commercial?

    You say this book isn’t written funny, I would say that NOW it is. Any of us read it, we’re gonna remember your review and yeah…you lubed it up good and its gonna slide thru funny like a……. well, you know.

  19. fiveandfour says:

    I think I just fell in love with Ben a little bit.  (I was already there with you, Candy).

    And why isn’t there more LOLPorn?  ‘Cause there should be.  There really, really should be.

  20. Jean says:

    “everyone would agree that that having a man stick his cock up your ass qualifies as “having sex” with him.”

    Well, maybe not.  Remember, a former President swore that oral sex wasn’t really sex.

  21. Teddypig says:

    Next on Entertainment Tonight!

    Deke Trenton is not gay he just wants another man to blame.

  22. Sandra D says:

    I can’t get over the ‘hero’s’ name Deke. Hockey fans will know that deke means to fake out another player, sneak past him and get the goal. Kinda adds a whole new level to the book for me lol.

  23. Teddypig says:

    I welcome you to cinnabar cavern
    We’ve been expecting you
    You bring such joy in cinnabar cavern
    No matter where you stick it in know our love is true

  24. Jen C says:

    For me, I think the best part is that he doesn’t (apparently) put on a condom for buttsecks-

    Announcement to the technical virgins of the world!  The ass contains many a delicate tissue; really, you need a condom as well as lube for buttsecks. 

    Also, threesomes with a cousin are really a little incesty.  I know romance novels tend to think its vegan-kosher to have sex with in-laws and adult step-siblings, but really, that is gross and people shouldn’t do that, even years later.  That is automatic book-against-the-wall behavior.

  25. Jennie says:

    The only thing I regret about the review is not having the book in my posession so I can throw it into the wall myself.

    Perhaps if you posted a video of said book flying across the room and hitting the wall I could get my vicarious thrill that way.

  26. Mala says:

    Dangit, I cannot click on the LOLporn, lest I get summarily axed from my job.  Then again, that might not be such a bad thing…

    At any rate, I just laughed myself silly, complete with wheezes and chokes. That is the saddest, SADDEST excuse for surprise buttsecks threesomes I have ever seen.

    I’m going to have to seek out some Emma Holly to cleanse myself. (And THAT’s saying something…)

  27. I’m supposed to be working, but I couldn’t resist clicking on the SB page one more time to take a second look at Candy’s review.  I only had to read “Fucking her ass.  Saving her life.” again to fall apart in helpless laughter.

    Damn you, SBs!  How am I supposed to get any work done?

  28. Eeyore9990 says:

    I have to offer you my firstborn now.  Take him.  He’s yours. 

    *is dead from laughter*

    Omg, my stomach!  My lungs!  I hurt!  You have killed me with an od of crack!

  29. Joanna S. says:

    Or, how about…

    Deke Trenton – he’s not gay, he just wants to know what his cousin’s penis tastes like.

    (or fantasize about it while he screws some “virgin” up teh ass, but he’s worried that doing so will kill the man he loves!)

  30. Oh, jeebus, Candy, you almost killed me. I was laughing so hard I could barely leave a message for Jenn Echols. “Call me… when you… get this…”

    I love the virgin’s response to being taking like a greek boy. “Deke?” Because I know I get timid and wide-eyed when that happens to me.

    So how is it practice for the double penetration if she won’t do the double penetration? Hmmm. Mysterious.

  31. Lorelie says:

    “everyone would agree that that having a man stick his cock up your ass qualifies as “having sex” with him.”

    Well, maybe not.  Remember, a former President swore that oral sex wasn’t really sex.

    What if it was a cigar headed up that way?


    Do you know, over the weekend I had a conversation with 4 adults (over the age of 30 for that matter) who hadn’t heard of the cigar aspect of all that?

  32. Jenns says:

    *Still dazed and stomach sore from all the laughing.*
    I am so glad I was drinking coffee while I read that. (That life saving bit was hysterical.)
    Wow. Just … There are no words.
    Candy, you deserve tons of credit. I’m sure you’ve saved many of us today.

  33. Deke Trenton – he’s not gay, he just wants to know what his cousin’s penis tastes like.

    Joanna, shut up. I can’t take any more of this. Too. Much. Laughing.

  34. sara says:

    “Reading Decadent deafened me.

    Have you ever had that experience before?”

    Yes, with Jude the Obscure. But I don’t remember nearly so much buttsecks in Thomas Hardy. Damn him.

    I’m at work, albeit in a fairly liberal environment, but I can’t wait to get home so I can see the LOLporn. Maybe I’ll have to borrow my coworker’s iPhone.

  35. Robin says:

    You know, there are some books I’ll purchase just to see how bad they really are.  But after the Carol Lynne phenomenon (just how many of her books did those bad reviews sell, I wonder?), I’m much more careful about even inadvertently sending a message of approval via purchase.  This is one of those books I won’t be buying, especially after both your review and Jane’s.

  36. mlg says:

    Ok, so I had to prove to myself the book really exists. I went to Amazon. The review there…and I quote, “Though she’s saved herself for Jesse, Kimber soon learns that he’s not the man adept at stoking her aching, endless need. That’s Deke, and he can’t resist when Kimber begs for more-and more.” Also, this is a sequel! And finally, four out of five stars….

  37. Joanna S. says:

    Victoria –

    It’s ok…just relax the muscles and move into it, which come (hur!) to think of it is probably what Deke said to his cousin once they got rid of their “virginal” beard.

    I know.  I am very bad for doing this to you. I am not sorry.

  38. Candy says:

    In all fairness to the book: there was lube (Luc had had a turn just before Deke, if I remember correctly, and I guess she was, uh, still juicy from that—ohgodnotthinkingofsantorum), and there were condoms.

    Also: good point about having the warning about the explicit nature of the link BEFORE the link. I’m going to edit the review accordingly.

    And in case anybody wonders about the true homogay content of this book: there’s none, at least textually. Which is part of what killllls me, because oh my God, Deke for the greater part of the book literally needs Luc there in order to get any bonin’ done, and you’d think the story could play with that, have some fun with it, but no. No. It’s because of the dead virgin. It’s always the dead virgins, man. When I start a punk band, I’m going to call it “Dead Virgins.”

  39. nitenurse says:

    The Amazon site actually has 30 odd reviews for this. 

    Just google the title and author and it’s amazing at what reviews you will find.

    It’s a whole genre I never even knew existed.  Menage a trois. 

    So, does oral count as part of the DP???

    anything84 to submit??

  40. (Luc had had a turn just before Deke, if I remember correctly, and I guess she was, uh, still juicy from that

    Wait, wait, wait. Then why did Luc cry out in horror, “What the hell are you doing?” Did he mean, “Back off, man, that’s MY hole!”

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