Review: The Fetish Box by Nicole Camden

Tuesday, March 26

Title: The Fetish Box (Open All Night / What Escapes / What Remains) *
Author: Nicole Camden
Series: The Fetish Box 1-3
Genre: contemporary erotic suspense serial
Publisher: Pocket Star
Format: E-book
Date/Year: February 11, 2013 / March 4, 2013 / March 25, 2013
Reviewed by: Michele

*These books were provided to the reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Summary from the publisher:

Part One: Open All Night

An enchanting eBook debut about a world where your fantasies come true and nothing is quite what it seems. Come on in to realize your heart’s darkest desire...Virginal twenty-two-year-old Mary has just inherited a sex shop in Florida from her mother. After a long drive from California, she arrives at her deceased mother’s house only to be confronted immediately with two equally sexy strangers: the strong, silent John and the irreverent, taunting Max. She’s innocent, almost completely untouched, but feels a completely uncharacteristic pull to each man. Shocking even herself, she realizes it’s not an unwelcome desire.

Max is a playboy who knows how to give women what they want, but John… John might just be able to give Mary something even she doesn’t know she needs…

Part Two: What Escapes

The breathtaking second installment in the Fetish Box eBook series…open the box and see what escapes…Mary is surprised by the deep feelings that follow in the wake of her first sexual encounter, but fascination with her lover John doesn’t dim her desire for the unapologetically lusty Irish bar-owner, Max. Feeding one hunger has unleashed other needs, and Mary wants to experience everything her new life has to offer.

But Mary’s dark desires aren’t the only ones swirling in the depths of The Fetish Box, and violence erupts amid the passion. When one of the men is attacked and the people at The Box put in danger, Mary realizes that some desires are more dangerous than others…

Part Three: What Remains

The breathtaking final installment in the Fetish Box eBook series, where anything is possible…when passion is unleashed, only time will tell what remains…In an attempt to seek out the source of the violence against her friends, Mary takes on a role she’d never imagined she’d play—a role that requires Mary to embrace the darkest parts of her soul.

For the first time in her life, Mary understands who she is and where she belongs. What remains when you take away the sex and fun and adventure…is love. Love for her new friends, love for her lover, and love for the mother she never knew. She’s willing to risk anything—do anything—to keep them safe…

My Musings:

As difficult as it can be to read a serialized novel piece by piece over time, it’s often even more difficult to write a review that will do justice to each part without losing track of what should be the overall experience of the story. I struggled with The Fetish Box, debating whether to review each part separately or together. The result here is a combined review of the three, with specific attention to each in their own right but with an eye toward that ideal of a whole story that just happens to be told in three separate parts.

Part One: Open All Night

The heroine of The Fetish Box is Mary Duepree, the self-described “bastard consequence of an affair with a trashy whore from Florida” who was raised by her father’s mother while her father made cameo appearances throughout her childhood years. When we first meet Mary, she is driving down to Hollywood, Florida in an old beat-up car full of her worldly possessions to claim her inheritance from her recently deceased mother. The late Mandy Duepree had apparently lived quite a colorful life, complete with several husbands, and had left her only daughter Mary an equally colorful inheritance: part ownership of a local pub and full ownership of a 24 hour sex shop. There’s also the matter of her mother’s tumbledown house on the beach, and not just one, but two older and viscerally attractive men who had been her mother’s best friends and who are both hoping to be something more in Mary’s life.

For me, this was the most effective part of the three. It immediately set the stage and established the tone for how we would see Mary and how she discovers her own innate sexuality as she dives deeper into the life that her mother lived as the acknowledged Fetish Queen of the local kink community. The fact that we don’t know any more than she does about John and Max, the two most important men at the end of her mother’s life, or anything else other than what they tell her makes each moment of discovery all the more compelling. Best of all, the cliffhanger for Part One hits just the right note of wanting to know what’s next without being angry that it’s not there yet.

Part Two: What Escapes

Now that Mary has met all the people who knew and loved her mother, she’s becoming more comfortable with putting her own stamp on The Fetish Box and working to fill the hole left in everyone’s lives when her mother died. Both Max and John are interested in her sexually, but it’s John who volunteers to teach her more about the kink lifestyle and appears to lay a claim on both her body and heart. There is a big kink party coming up at a local socialite’s home which will be Mary’s first real chance to show everyone that she can take over where her mother left off. But the party may also be the catalyst for real danger to both The Fetish Box and Mary herself.

The tone of sexual mystery continues in Part Two, although not as overwhelming as in Part One since there are several plot points to be worked through in support of the suspense elements moving the story forward. The sex scenes between John and Mary are especially erotic and we see Mary becoming more like the mother she never knew. Part Two has a less immediate cliffhanger after Mary survives two active threats to The Fetish Box and her own home, but it is no less compelling than the first. And with only one part remaining, literally anything can happen next on our way to the end of the story.

Part Three: What Remains

In Part Three, all things are resolved as Mary finally takes her rightful place as the new Fetish Queen of the local kink community and we discover the source of the threats against her and the ones she has come to love. But Mary has to make several difficult choices and deal with immediate personal danger before she can reach her own personal Happily Ever After.

I suppose it’s the nature of a concluding third part of a trilogy that setting up the plot payoffs and wrapping things up neatly is what needs to be provided above all, but I still found Part Three to be somewhat of a let-down. I’d guessed the source of the threats back in Part Two - it wasn’t really much of a mystery - and when that person finally appeared, it was almost anticlimactic as the scene played itself out and the story moved along to its happy ending for all. It’s not like I wanted Mary to actually be killed or harmed, but the buildup had been so effective that the payoff just couldn’t live up to my expectations.

Nicole Camden has made a writing choice in The Fetish Box that I feel deserves a special warning for those readers who are particular about a story’s point of view. Although The Fetish Box starts out as told from Mary’s POV, once she arrives in town and meets the other characters, the narrative switches between multiple characters multiple times, sometimes from paragraph to paragraph and never providing any other indication whose head we are in at any given moment. If you are not a fan of switching POVs, The Fetish Box will make you want to throw your e-reader across the room. But if you can keep up with who is telling the story, this writing style can add to your enjoyment of discovering just what Mary has gotten herself into and what the gifts her mother gave her really mean.

The Fetish Box is definitely nothing like anything else I’ve read this year. It didn’t always work for me but I appreciate Nicole Camden’s effort at writing something different than all the other serialized erotic stories available today. Although I can’t help thinking that this story would have been better served without serialization, I’ll always treasure the perfect jewel that was Part One.


Overall: 4 stars (Part One: 5 / Part Two: 4 / Part Three: 3)
Sensuality level: 5
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