Although it’s a wonderful Palate Cleanser, the narrative catalyst of Robin York’s engrossing, sexy, thought-provoking Deeper is something that may well leave a nasty taste in the mouth. Metaphorically, I mean. But perhaps that’s an awkward choice of phrase, given that the event that sets the story in motion is pictures of our heroine, Caroline, in flagrante being released on the Internet… So, use your imagination. Though in fact, what is fantastic about York’s story is that she does not shy away from the graphic, difficult nature of non-consensual pornography, and the consequences it can have for the individual upon whom so-called revenge is being sought.
In Deeper, Caroline believed she was sharing a private, intimate moment with her boyfriend, but when they break up and sexual images of her are disseminated across the Internet, she has a choice to make. The mortification, fear and shame that she feels are dealt with well – but then Caroline makes a decision, slowly, carefully, to abandon the feelings of negativity and ‘fault’ that are heaped upon her, and that she heaps upon herself. Instead she is learns that sex is not something to be ashamed of, and the hateful actions of others need to be separated from the sense of her own sexuality and strength. That’s where West comes in. Excellent name, for starters. He’s dangerous, cocky (ahem), intelligent, flirtatious, moody, imperfect (drug dealer, anyone?) – he’s a great foil for Caroline’s strong-willed but somewhat sheltered heroine. Plus, he works in a bakery. Free baked goods. Win-win. The narrative alternates in chunks between Caroline and West’s point-of-view, but never in a repetitive or contrived way, and it’s great to explore both of these characters and the totally convincing complexities that York allows each of them to inhabit. Their relationship plays out tantalisingly, with palpable sexual tension, and believable reasons, both internal and external, for the obstacles they face on the path to love. As they begin a sexual relationship, York manages to make their explorations seem both realistic and smoking hot, as well as allowing Caroline to reclaim her sexual – and personal – power through her relationship with West.
Little Spoiler Alert here, but I have to say: their bittersweet goodbye at the end of the book is totally credible and utterly heart-wrenching. It’s quite rare that I feel compelled to read on in a series – it always feels like a law of diminishing returns exploring past the initial stages of a romance in such stories. But with Caroline and West, I genuinely want to know what’s going to happen to them, how they will come back together. You want those kids to make it, gosh darn it. Robin York is here confronting an important issue facing young women today: who owns their sexuality, their image, who owns their body, who gets to tell them what is acceptable and what is not. (Clue: they do.) It’s refreshing to see an author allowing her heroine to make strong, positive decisions about her sexuality and her ownership of it, and York’s engrossing, beautifully written prose makes it all the more compelling. Like Caroline and West, you should get “deep and then deeper” into this one. Mmm. Sexy yet emosh. Do it.
Cringe Factor 1/5
Is it Hot in Here? 4/5
For the Love of Feminism! 4.5/5
Overall Tasty Goodness 4/5