Bestselling author and voracious consumer of romance Rachael Johns gives an insider’s perspective on The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings by Natasha Walker
Before I start, I must admit, I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey or any of the supposed spin-offs and had absolutely no inclination to do so. I read 100 pages of Grey because I thought I should – it sold bucket loads and as an author it would have been good research to work out why – but I honestly couldn’t go any further. Erotic romance has just never been my thing. So, I’d never had any inclination to pick up The Secret Lives of Emma series either. There were just too many other books on my TBR pile. I like a hot sex scene as much as the next person in a romance, but I’m more there for the romance than the sex.
And then a couple of weeks ago, I read an article online about the true identity of Natasha Walker, author of The Secret Lives of Emma and suddenly I was interested. You see, I’d recently met John Purcell, the author behind Natasha, at the Australian Romance Readers Convention and I was gobsmacked!!! Seriously, I would NEVER have picked this. I was really curious to see how John wrote from the point-of-view of a very sensual female and ordered the book (from Booktopia) immediately.
The Secret Lives of Emma begins with Emma Benson (32), a bored housewife, studying while sunbaking in her backyard. It is immediately apparent that she is an erotically-charged woman and has a past her husband is unfamiliar with. She’s longing for more excitement in her life, but in particular her sex life. She’s happy with her husband, David, who is apparently very good in bed, but she needs more. To quote the book, “She was a sexual glutton, but, like any good diet, her diet required variety.” While Emma loves David (or so she says, we don’t actually see much of this relationship), her views on marriage do not match those of the general public and thus some people might find her a distasteful character.
Personally, I liked Emma (although it took me a while to work this out) and I enjoyed the book. I’m sure there are plenty of people in ‘real life’ like Emma but I enjoyed the book as a fantasy. I found Emma’s daring and that of her young lover exciting and shocking all at once.
There are really only two characters in Beginnings – Emma and her 18 year old neighbour, Jason, whom she decides will be her project. She will teach Jason to be a good lover and reap her own pleasure in the process. Jason is an interesting
character – he is the perfect son and student but Emma lures him into her torrid world and she becomes his focus above all else. There’s mention of Emma’s husband, her other lover Paul and a teenage girl who is after Jason, but they take up very little page space. The story is all about Emma and her illicit affair with her neighbour’s son.
Maybe it is the illicitness of the situation that helps the chemistry leap off the page from chapter one. Although at first I wasn’t sure I liked the idea of an affair between world-wise Emma and innocent Jason, I found myself turning the pages as their encounters heated up, desperate for them to consummate their affair. Jason develops more as a character than Emma – changing from a naive and guileless, albeit hot, school boy, into a man aware of his needs and the power they can have on him and others. If I had any complaint about the novel, it would be that there wasn’t a deep emotional connection between the two lovers, but that didn’t stop me being invested in them and their story.
I can’t compare The Secret Lives of Emma to other books of this genre, but I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be ordering buying books two and three ASAP! It’s an easy but clever read and I’m desperate to know what happens next in the life of naughty Emma.
Rachael John is an English teacher by trade, a mum 24/7, a supermarket owner by day, a chronic arachnophobic, and a writer by night. She rarely sleeps. Rachael lives in rural Western Australia with her hyperactive husband and three mostly-gorgeous heroes-in-training. Rachael is the author of Jilted, for which she won the Australian Romance Readers Award for Favourite Contemporary Romance, and Man Drought, both of which have been bestsellers.