World-Building in Romance
But I had a plan! Organizing my reading & reviewing life.

Taken by Charlotte Stein (mini-gushy review)

Charlotte Stein is the master deep first person weirdness. I just love her stories. Taken is an intense & delightfully off-kilter erotic romance.  Taken is the story of an unexpectedly tender/kinky accidental-kidnapper bookseller and the reluctant vandal/nearly arsonist who falls for him.

This story is just a short 99 pages but it is worth every cent. I stretched out reading it over a day and half, because it was too good to rush through. As it is I felt I read it too fast. If you have never read any of Stein's gloriously erotic stories give this one a try. Taken has so much of what makes her a joy to read.  

Stein's meet-cute are more like meet-under-the-most-bizarre-of-circumstances. In this case a college student agrees to accompany a friend to play a prank on store owner who was rude to her, but instead finds herself nearly helping her friend set fire to his store.  Johann stops them before they do much, and in a fit of anxious panic ends up handcuffing her to his bed in the store basement. Then he really panics.

Stein's voice is hilarious. I've yet to read one of her stories where I don't end up laughing or at least chuckling to myself.  None of her characters are cool and aloof, however much they want to be. They are full of this effervescent excitement.  These sex feelings and tinglings are the best things ever and even if they want to seem in control and sophisticated it just leaks out of them.

Stein's stories are about acceptance and celebration. Many of Stein's hero and heroines have an idea of what kind of people they should be.  They feel woefully inadequate and alien. They might be externally competent and put together but inside they are mush.  Yet the very things they deny about themselves are what their lover wants them to express the most. Are you secretly kinky, and afraid of losing control? bring it! Do you care too much too fast? me too! I just love the underlying joy of recognition, of seeing someone else say "I just love that about you!"  Her heroes and heroines bodies, personalities & quirks are celebrated and desired.  Their arousal & satisfaction are gloried in and in the end her protagonists are allowed to revel in love they never expected to have. 

In the end Stein's stories always feel to me like warm weirdly arousing hugs and I always want more.





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