Wednesday, November 4, 2009

RAview: Jill Nelson's Let's Get It On

I would call Jill Nelson's Let's Get It On women's fiction or chick lit. It's a sequel to Sexual Healing, in which three single Black women friends open a spa that also sells safe, women-focused sex from hot male sex workers.

Both books are quick reads, employing lots of dialog and first-person narrative chapters from various characters. Sexual Healing focuses on Lydia and Acey, and Let's Get It On pays more attention to Wanda and Odell (a partner hired to manage the sex workers). I thought the characters were better established in the first book, and I found Lydia and Acey more likable and relatable than the primary narrators in the second installment.

Story line themes in Let's Get It On include politics and parody (e.g., the President is trying to pass "No Child, No Behind," which would outlaw sex except for procreation to build an antiterrorist Christian army), the Black social elite, Martha's Vineyard high-class island lifestyle--golf, clam bakes, etc.--and the historical lineage of white supremacist groups.

Details of clothing and dialect are used to portray characters. There are also detailed sex scenes, and details of running a small business. The tone is generally light and humorous, righteous, proud. Language is not particularly distinctive, but it does help with characterization, as the narratives from Odell, Wanda, and Lydia are written in their manners of speaking and thinking (e.g., from one of Lydia's sections, while a stranger's loose dog is humping her leg: "Frankly, the spectacle of a Yorkie creaming on my leg, not to mention my cashmere sweats, takes me past disgust, fear, and anger to homicidal rage and self-preservation...I'll beat the little pooch's paws with my pocketbook until it lets go and topples into the ocean, hopefully to die an unnatural death being ground into shark chow by the rotors of the ferry.").

Setting is relatively important. Martha's Vineyard as an elite vacation town helps define the character cast. The new spa franchise they open in Let's Get It On is on a boat just off the coast, and nautical themes play a role. Also, good food, drink, and company (which is easily associated with a place like the Vineyard) helps forward the book's themes of relaxation, pampering, and sexual satisfaction.

As far as readsalike go, nothing in my personal library jumped out at me, and I'm having little luck searching around online. Brenda Jackson's Solid Soul is on my TBR list, so I'll get back to you on that one.

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