Reviewed by Gwen Masters
The day I left Japan, I stared at my reflection in the mirror in the airport ladies' room and made the following vows:
I would never tell another lie, especially to myself.
I would never let desire overwhelm common sense.
I would never sleep with a man who was married to someone else, mime fellatio with a complete stranger on a stage, or take money for sex again.
In fact, to cover all the bases, I would never have sex again with anyone, man or woman, for the rest of my life.
Amorous Woman opens with those words, and to say they hooked me from the get-go is an understatement. I love stories that begin with a mystery, and why in the world Lydia would want to swear off sex for the rest of her life was anybody's guess. I had to find out.
Throughout Amorous Woman, Lydia's fantasies -- and her real-life adventures -- were enough to deepen the mystery. Lydia is a woman who has no problem with any stretch of the sexual imagination. From the first moment she discusses the intricacies of sex with her much more worldly cousin, Lydia is open to experience. She blossoms into a sexual being like a new flower lifting its face to the sun.
In Japan, she finds all the things a young lover needs. The passion of the country enchants her from the beginning, and the men she finds there enchant her even more. She loves it so much she makes it her homeland and takes a husband -- but soon discovers that the traditional, benign life of a Japanese wife is more foreign than the country itself could ever be.
Lydia sets off to find herself through a series of experiences, each more sensual than the last. She discovers things that surprise her, shame her, and excite her. She tackles a new question about herself with every encounter. Where did this begin? Where will it end? How many lines has she crossed? How many promises to herself has she broken?
How far must a woman go before she finds her own redemption? Donna George Storey invites us to share in Lydia's adventures, and she makes the journey an easy one. Her attention to detail is astounding, and serves to bring the reader right into the scene. She paints a lovely picture of Japan, one that could only be told by someone familiar with its quirks and customs. The breathtaking imagery of Japanese culture made me yearn to visit there myself.
Written with sparse but passionate prose, Amorous Woman is the kind of book that demands you slow down and savor. The sex scenes are hot, almost always emotional, and inventive more often than not. The backstory that surrounds Lydia's sexual journey is just as appealing as the naughty bits.
There are no gratuitous sex scenes here. Every encounter serves a purpose. Each moment reveals more about Lydia and what she really wants -- and who she really is. She is not an easy character by any means, and that's good. She is deeply flawed, innately beautiful, and heartbreakingly honest. Lydia is so human, she leaps from the page in vivid, glorious color.
As Lydia points out during her tale, the literal translation of "amorous woman" is "the woman who loved colors." Storey paints her story with the fine strokes of a learned, purposeful brush. In Amorous Woman, she has illustrated exactly how good erotica should be written.