Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Season of Eden by JM Warwick

Published October 2008.

I let the door silently close at my back. He stared at me, and a taut quiet stretched between us.

"I like hearing you play," I said, moving toward him.

He turned, in sync with my slow approach. He looked up at me but didn't say anything. I rested my clammy hand on the cold, slick body of the baby grand. "May I?"

The muscles in his throat shifted, then he swallowed. "Eden."

My knees weakened, like a soft tickling kiss had just been blown against the backs of them. "Is it okay?" I asked.

His gaze held mine like two hands joined. He understood what I was really asking.

"Let me stay," I said. "Please."

"You're going to get me in trouble." (book back blurb)

I don't know about you, but that's one of the damn sexiest things I've ever read. It's dripping with this forbidden, strained, stressed sexual tension that permeates the pages and has me rooting for the two to just hook up already.

Is this a high school student/teacher relationship? Yes. Why do I find nothing wrong with this? Because the student, Eden, is 18. The teacher, James, is 22. Under any other circumstances, there'd be nothing wrong with this relationship. Is it undermining James's professional integrity? Absolutely. Is he still violating a code of conduct? Of course he is. But both parties involved are of the legal age of consent in any state so circumstances aside, I don't have a problem with it.

That out of the way, I absolutely devoured this book. Would I call it a romance? Not really. It doesn't fit any of the romance tropes. The ending is optimistic but not conclusive. It leaves you wondering, which romance, as I understand it, doesn't. But is it raw and passionate? Absolutely.

Every single fleck of emotion Eden emoted I could feel. From her jealously of other female students to her drive (and at times obsession) to be with James. Every single piece of it I felt. It was like I became Eden, I could feel her emotions so deeply. But there were times where I was able to step back, where I wanted to warn her to back away. Take it easy. Not so fast. Chill out. In a way I was kind of guiding myself.

Why? I was in a similar, albeit much less involved, situation in high school. I was a senior (17 until May of that year) and we had a student teacher that like every girl was drooling over. He wasn't even out of college although I can't accurately remember if he was getting his Masters or if he was finishing his teaching degree. Since he was externing in a classroom, I'm logically leaning towards the latter. So that made him . . . 21? 22? We flirted. Absolutely. We could have rightly shared a cafeteria table only a few years before so where was the problem, right? I knew things about his personal life that a student probably shouldn't have known. It never advanced to the degree that Eden and James did. Not even close. But reading this book made me remember everything I felt with that student teacher. All the jealously, striving to stand out in a group of girls so he'll notice me, structuring my day around his class. Of course. I felt like I was reliving a part of my high school life reading this and for a few hours, I absolutely loved it.

It's such raw emotion. It flames forth unabated, unchecked. Eden wants to find out where James lives so she stalks him a little. Just a little. There are no checks or balances there because it's something she always does with her friends when they want to know more about a new boy. Things like that are rationalized. The Id is prominent, clawing its way to the forefront and telling reason to shut the hell up. God, I couldn't get enough of it.

As I said before, the writing just drips with a vibrating, buzzing sexual tension that's just at the forefront of coming to a head. From the beginning it's there, mounting, and you keep reading because you're willing to do anything to sate that tension but will it go away?

I was a little over Eden's rich girl 'I get everything' attitude. Even though that was a major factor in the storyline, I kind of wished it happened to a, well, more deserving girl. One that didn't have everything handed to her on a silver platter, that couldn't manipulate her way into and out of anything to get her desired outcome. Like I said, it's all relevant in the end but I still couldn't help but wish she wasn't the little rich girl. The absentee parents kind of irked me as well. It was very convenient. Again, relevant to the plot as it all comes full circle but like the rich girl, I was over it.

There is also some pretty heavy religious undertones in the story. Eden - garden of forbidden fruit, Eve the temptress. It all fits. On top of that, Grove Creek Publishing in and of itself has a religious bent to it. They're not a Christian press but their mission statement is having "clean" YA absent of lewdness, etc. But reading A Season of Eden with all its ripe sexual tension, you wouldn't get that if you didn't look into the publisher beforehand. There's definitely some level of spiritual cleansing going on at the end (absent actual religion, I just want to be clear, this is not Christian literature) but honestly, it's something the character needs so it fits. I didn't mind it in the slightest.

So while there were a few things I could have lived without in A Season of Eden, those were easily enough stashed away under the rug and allowed me to read this flavorful piece of meat from beginning to end, running the entire way. The writing is glorious, the tension rips at your brain and it'll have you salivating for more the more pages you turn. If you want an nontraditional romance that'll leave you scratching at your face, but in a good way, you'll want to read A Season of Eden. And then you'll probably get writer envy because quite frankly, I've never read sexual tension written this well before. Makes me want to write a scene just to see how I measure up. And I don't even write romance-ish stuff.


Anonymous said...

Seems to have made a powerful impression on you. Although I'm not one for romance (at least as the dominant feature of a story), if this author managed to move you at such a visceral level, then she did her job well enough.

jenniferlaurens said...

No rotting veggies for me, thanks. Well, as imagined, I get a variety of feedback on this book everything from the book should be banned to insightful comments from readers like you who "get" the story. So, thank you for reading and for "getting" it.

Jennifer Laurens aka JM

Chel said...

OHMYGOD! You should totally write a book about that. I will definitely, definitely buy it! This book is on my March Reading Pile. I hope I'd like as much as you did.

The Procrastinator's Corner

Donna (Bites) said...

Seriously, this book is amazing. I think it highlights a very real circumstance in this country (if not the rest of the world), as evidenced by my own experience. I probably would have taken issue with it if the student were 14 but they're two consenting adults; the only thing keeping them apart is 6 months of high school. I really don't see the huge deal.

Wings said...

I'm glad you liked this.

I wanted to like it so much because I love the whole forbidden romance teacher student type stuff...don't know why but I guess its better than enjoying incest...but unfortunately I didn't

such is life

great review :)

Jordan Haleigh said...

I really want to read this book very badly...i understand where she is coming from. I myself had an all-too-close relationship with a teacher of mine. he was my teacher when i was younger, i am seventeen now. He is 36.It was a recent mistake.and Way too much of an age difference. He is a great looking and charming man..and i am a beautiful young lady who did the wrong thing..and wasnt very respectful to myself nor him or his family.. i regret it very much so. We took it too far but i would love to read this book and read something i can relate to.

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