Eighty Days Yellow, by Vina Jackson

Review published on September 7, 2012.Reviewed by Marleen Kennedy

Summer Zahova is a violinist from New Zealand, living in London where she is in a frustrating relationship with a man who can’t meet her needs and struggling to make ends meets. While busking in the underground, Summer gets caught up in a scuffle between rival football supporters which damages her violin beyond repair. Dominik is a university professor who found himself enthralled by Summer and the way she loses herself while playing the violin on the one occasion he saw and heard her play. Unable to find her again and with no idea who the beautiful redhead is, he has almost given up the hope of ever meeting her when he reads an article about a violinist whose violin was broken. Now that he has a name, Dominik can contact Summer and he sets her a challenge:

I am willing to gift you with a new violin. Do you accept my challenge and my terms?”

Unable to resist Summer contacts Dominik and agrees to play for him in a location and under circumstances to be determined by him.

And so starts a strange, but initially, fascinating relationship. Summer discovers that submitting to Dominik’s requests satisfies her in a way she didn’t know was possible, while Dominik’s need for Summer only grows. Things don’t progress smoothly though. With their relationship being anything but exclusive Summer feels free to explore this newly discovered sexuality of hers with others as well. And when third parties become involved in the interactions between Dominik and his musician feelings get hurt and the two are torn apart. With Summer delving deeper into the BDSM scene in New York, and Dominik left behind in London with no idea where the girl he needs is, both find themselves delving into relationships that don’t begin to meet their needs. Is there any chance of these two people ever staying together long enough to discover that they actually need each other?

I’m not at all sure how I feel about this book. I have, by now, read a few books about people discovering their not quite vanilla taste for sex and up until now it has been a case of a novice meeting someone who likes to dominate, discovering his/her submissive side and while the couple explore this BDSM relationship they fall in love and live happily ever after. Nothing is quite that simple in this book. Summer and Dominik, while attracted to each other and enjoying the antics they get up to while together are not on path towards everlasting happiness. They are not even exclusive when it comes to sexual experiences. They come together only to be thrown apart again because they fail to communicate and don’t recognise their own feelings and needs until it is (almost?) too late. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this development. While it makes the story far more realistic – I mean, what are the chances that the first person with whom you indulge in a certain experience is also the person you want to spend the rest of your life with – it also makes the story more disturbing and liking the main characters more difficult.

In fact, I’m not at all sure I did like Summer and Dominic – or any of the other characters in the book. I’m not sure how I feel about the shifting perspective in this book either. Sometimes it is Summer herself telling the story, then it is a narrator telling the reader about Summer’s experiences and at yet other times we see things from Dominic’s perspective. These shifts seemed to take the flow out of the story as I had to stop and think about who exactly was telling me what. I can’t help wondering if this shifting perspective is the result of two authors having written this book together, and if that is the case, why an editor didn’t make them change it. Finally, this book comes with a “If you liked Fifty Shades, you’ll love…” sticker. Don’t be fooled by that. This book is only similar to Fifty Shades in that it deals with unconventional sexual relations. But whereas Fifty Shades was above all a love story, Eighty Days Yellow doesn’t read like a love story at all. This is the story of a voyage of sexual self-discovery more then anything else and will probably appeal to a different sort of reader than the Fifty Shades books did.

So, there was a lot to question and even dislike about this book. On the other hand, it was also an intriguing story especially because it was so very unpredictable. At no point in this story did I feel as if I knew what would happen next. Events and characters kept on surprising me. And, now that I’ve finished this book I’m still wondering where the story will take the characters and if they will ever figure out what it is they want, individually or together. And that curiosity means that even though I wasn’t crazy about this book I will probably read the next book in this trilogy before too long. The need to know what will happen next is far greater than my “dislike” of this story.

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