Sizzle by Sheridan Kesselman

Note to self: whenever I come across a book where the first sentence is, “I am a sociopath”, I need to shut my Kindle, put it down on the nearest flat surface, and walk away slowly. Scratch that, I need to run like a bat out of hell in the other direction. Believe it or not, this is now the second book I’ve encountered with that damning first sentence. I hated the first book that used it, and I must say I really, really, really…really didn’t like this one either.

Boy is that an introductory paragraph! Despite how this review started I am going to add a very important disclaimer right here: if you are really interested in reading about the darker psychological aspects of relationships, specifically related to sexual dysfunction and family issues, well then get in line because this book will be right up your alley. If you’re a psychology major you’ll probably find it fascinating, and could write a term paper about the lead character. You should also just ignore the rest of this review. Although please do come back again because I love having you around. On the other hand, if you are looking for a romance between two people who fall in love with all their hearts, then this book definitely isn’t for you. Personally, I had three main issues with this book, which I will proceed to outline below.

1. The Plot

sizzleBasically, there wasn’t one. The synopsis reveals that Mackenzie Stark is a woman who travels halfway around the world to sleep with Damian, a man half her age. He wants her, she wants him, you get the picture. After spending a few days with him which culminates in an intense night of passion, she returns home to start a journal of her life at her therapist’s request. Now I’ll admit, the first 20 pages or so of this book were interesting by discussing her flight to Europe to be with Damian. However, just when we were getting to the good part between the two of them she switches to talk about her “life”, which is basically just a retelling of sexual conquest after sexual conquest. That’s it. There is no real story being told. She literally goes from one man to the next. We don’t find out how all of these conquests led her to seduce Damian. He’s pretty much just another conquest like all the rest of them. At the beginning of the book, Mackenzie even reveals that she is divorced from her husband, and has a daughter, yet nowhere in this journal of her life does she ever mention meeting her husband, getting married, or having a child. Based on this journal, her life is literally just about sex, and a shitty relationship with her drunken mother. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously love reading books that contain an element of sex. Hell, just read any one of my other book reviews. But this book is just sex with no real feelings, let alone love, involved. That is something I don’t care to read about.

2. The Lack of Organization

Good God in Heaven this was the most frustrating aspect of the book for me. So, Mackenzie starts her journal with a discussion of how she met Damian whilst (I love using that word) flying to Europe to visit her daughter. Then she skips ahead a year to when she flies over again just to meet up with him. Right in the middle of her seduction of the young lad she backpedals to her first sexual experience, which happened to be fantasizing about gripping another boy’s hair. Hair fetish, who knew? She then proceeds into a ridiculously long dialogue detailing all of her other sexual escapades with pretty much everyone in the state of California. Then she jumps ahead to Damian for a page and half only to go back in time again for another 50 pages, and then we get another Damian paragraph before going back further in time once again to a time that was before the first time we went back in time. Are you getting frustrated just with my explanation of this? Mackenzie describes a lot of her life around the age of 15, and slowly moves forward in a linear path in age, but just when you think we are getting somewhere she goes back again to another sexual episode years before. For crying out loud, keep to a timeline! And poor Damian. He’s the focus of the first 30 pages, as well as the synopsis of the book, but then he only gets brief mentions here and there, only to completely disappear from the story for the last half of the novel. It’s only in the last few pages that he makes a comeback to have sex with Mackenzie. Then they both go their separate ways, seemingly without any intention of meeting again. This disorganization made the book so extremely difficult to follow because I could never keep straight if she was in high school or college, who she had already slept with, and where the hell Damian was supposed to fit into all this mess.

3. Mackenzie

Mackenzie was definitely not a fun character to read about, especially for 340 pages. Let me put it to you this way. When I get home after a long day of work, I like to curl up in bed with a nice romance novel so that I can live in a dream world where there are nothing but happy endings and true love. Yeah, I realize that’s delusional, but what can I say? I love reading about the fairytale. I do not however like reading about a woman who had her first sexual awakening at the age of 6, how she later went on to have sex with her first cousin, had affairs with married men but felt no remorse whatsoever, 12-year-olds humping like rabbits, or how she took part in a sex show with yet another cousin in front of a live audience. That’s right. ANOTHER cousin! Not just one, but a second one. Sure, this one was a distant cousin, but still! Too icky for my tastes. I remember one scene in particular (although I can’t remember which cousin it was with, Yuck!) where Mackenzie and her cousin are flirting like mad while her parents are in the other room, and just before they enter she tries to think of a way to steer the conversation to a more “cousinly” topic. Maybe you should talk about the fact that you two are related and how messed up it would be were you to ever have children!! Ok, I need to regroup. Anyway, what I really didn’t like about Mackenzie was that she made it seem like this whole journal was a build up to sleeping with Damian, but once she finally manages to successfully seduce him and have sex it still seems like she has no real feelings for him. Again, he’s just another conquest. So what was the point of this whole journal in the first place?

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: No.

Should you read it? If you are looking for romance, hell to the no. However, the author has been a practicing psychotherapist for many years, with a focus in family issues and sexual dysfunction, so I’m sure this book could be an excellent study of that topic. It just isn’t something I want to read in my spare time.

Smut Level: Honestly, pretty disturbing. I had to stop reading at 50% and read another book before coming back to finish this one. There are threesomes, kind of a foursome, cousin sex, affairs, being tied up, being tied down, getting turned on when a guy shoots someone else, and pretty much everything else in between.

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