Opal Carew
2008, Erotic Romance
Griffin, $13.95, 272 pages, Amazon ASIN 0312367783

Grade: B
Sensuality: Burning

It seems to me that mainstream society has become curious about the swinging “lifestyle" and, after watching some crime shows based around murders occurring at a swinger’s party, and hearing interviews with Peter Sagal about his Book of Vice, I too became a bit intrigued as to why a couple would be into this sort of relationship. Opal Carew’s Swing provides some of that motivation, along with a lot of erotic, varied love scenes.

Melissa Wood’s best friend and long-time unrequited love Shane is considering buying The Sweet Surrender, a resort for those who live “the lifestyle” to come and enjoy the tropical setting, the entertainment, and the fellow guests. He wants to check the place out first-hand before he buys it, but the rules state that no single person can come - only couples. So he asks Melissa if she will come with him, posing as his wife.

Melissa is understandably shaken by the request, and would refuse if it weren’t for some news she got from her sister. So, she and Shane go off to the resort to scope it out. The current owner, meanwhile, has reason to believe that the potential buyer will send an agent to inspect the resort, so she asks her good friend and sometime lover Ty to try to figure out who this agent is - and make sure that this person gets a good impression of the resort. Because Melissa appears more uneasy about the place than most “virgins,” they believe she is the spy, and Ty befriends her in order to keep her happy, and have a positive report for her boss. However, he quickly becomes protective of her and soon begins to fall for her, while Melissa struggles with her affections for both Shane and Ty, and the newfound exhibitionist, hedonistic side of her personality.

As erotica, Carew certainly knows what she’s doing, and her scenes are hot, though if you don’t like to read about anything more unusual than straight one-on-one sex, this obviously isn’t the book for you. Overall the characters were well-developed and interesting. However, I had some difficulty liking Ty; some of the things he did and thought while I was "in his head" made him less likable to me.

As a word of caution, I reiterate that you won't like this book if you can't abide reading about swinging. While I may not fully understand Melissa or the other characters, Opal Carew did a good job of explaining the motivations behind their actions and why a committed couple would live this lifestyle. If you are curious or interested in this sort of thing, this is a well-written - and very hot - book.

-- Jane Granville

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