Total Eclipse of the Heart – Zane Review

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In Zane’s latest, Total Eclipse of the Heart (released 12/1, Atria Books) she verges slightly from the expected sensual musings of America’s hottest erotica writer. Her novel contains a pair of interwoven novellas that take us through the negative aspects of love to the shining transcendence of the heart’s fulfillment.

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Zane introduces us to the main characters, Brooke Alexander and Damon Johnson. We find our heroine Brooke locked in a psychologically abusive relationship with partner Patrick, a hot shot attorney in Washington, D.C. She endures unfulfilling and sometimes forceful lovemaking alongside scathing comments on her weight and lack of a career outside waitressing. Meanwhile, Damon is a human resources manager, married to his wife Carleigh for four years. Handsome in looks and charm, he is regarded as a sex object by his spouse and subsequently becomes the target of unwanted sexual advances from her horde of so-called close friends.

An unexpected tragedy at a concert renders both Brooke and Damon injured, altering the course of their lives. This is where we see the band-aids placed on the fissure cracks of unhappiness exposed for what they really are. But the twist ending leaves you baffled, pleasantly surprised, and flipping back through the book to see how you could have missed it.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this novel because it takes the reader through the chasm of falling in love and attempting to remain there, even when the waters become turbulent. Zane’s sensual scenes titillate the erogenous zones while her in-depth dialogue makes both Brooke and Damon blaze to life with color.

But I consider the novel’s strength to be its secondary characters. Through Carleigh we experience the realities of the mortgage crisis and the current state of the damaged real estate market. We learn that our relationships bleed over into other people’s lives through the hostility shown by Patrick’s parents along with the conflict of friends Bobby and Steve as they stand by Damon despite their misgivings. Through Zane’s Tony, we are taken into the unspoken lives of gay America, the “down-low” phenomenon and the honest truth about how sex often runs secondary to commitment. Finally, we see the paradoxes of love in the character Destiny, a woman who believes all men step out on their ladies, yet finds herself unable to reconcile her best friend Brook’s possibly immoral behavior.

Ultimately, I’d say pick this one up. If nothing else, it will make you take a long look at the eclipses of your own heart when you’ve ached for love, needed it and found hoping for it just too damn hard.

Total Eclipse of the Heart receives a PARL

Rating system
P …Horrible
PA …Tolerable
PAR …Good
PARL …Excellent
PARLÉ …Classic