As far as Bliss Edwards can tell, she's the last virgin standing, certainly amongst her friends. And she's determined to deal with the 'problem' as quickly and simply as possible.
But her plan for a no-strings one night stand turns out to be anything but simple. Especially when she arrives for her first class and recognises her hot new British professor.
She'd left him naked in her bed just 8 hours earlier... From Goodreads.
WARNING! For the purposes of reviewing this book as part of Sex in Teen Lit Month II, I will need to give some minor spoilers. Please read no further if you're planning on reading this book and don't want it spoilt for you.
Losing It by Cora Carmack was recommended to me as a book to cover for Sex in Teen Lit Month II, but once I started reading, I came across a problem; Bliss, the main character, is twenty-two. I'd reasoned with myself that some NA titles could be covered as long as the protagonist was still a teenager, but that wasn't going to work with Losing It. I read on though as I had started, and was planning on giving it a normal review. However, now I've finished, I've realised that it's still a pretty good book to cover for the month, despite the ages of the characters. Losing It is quite a sweet romance, but the romance could have been deeper.
Bliss is a virgin. She's just told her best friend Kelsey, who is shocked and determined to help Bliss change it. She drags Bliss out for a night at a pub so Bliss can have a one night stand. Bliss isn't really into it, and is only going along to keep her friend happy, but is sure she won't find anyone. Until she meets Garrick. Hot, British, and reading Shakespeare, Bliss is unable to resist the magnetism between the two, and soon the two are at her house, in her bed. Things get complicated, though, when she turns up at school the next day ands finds the new Buisness of Theatre professor is the guy she brought home last night.
Despite the setting and the ages of the characters, Losing It feels just like a YA novel - it's no more sexually explicit than some YA novels I've read, and considering the topic it covers, I decided to include it for the event. Shortly after it opens, Kelsey is draggin Bliss to a pub, and I felt uncomfortable. Until Bliss told Kelsey about her being a virgin, she had no plans to rid herself of her virginity. The only reason they're at the pub is because Kelsey thinks Bliss is too old to be a virgin, and it's something that needs to be "fixed".
'"If you're not gay, and it's not about Jesus, then it's just a matter of finding the right guy, or should I say... the right sexual sword."I was completely against Kelsey's attitude; if a virgin wishes to lose his/her virginity on a one night stand, fine, but someone else telling that virgin that they need to, and this is how... that's not on. Especially as Bliss didn't really want to - thought she does just give up and go along with it. It's something that was never really addressed in the book which I have a problem with.
I rolled my eyes. "Gee? Is that all? Find the right guy? Why didn't someone tell me sooner?"
"I don't mean the right guy to marry, honey. I mean the right guy to get your blood pumping. To make you turn off your analytical, judgemental, hyperactive brain and think with your body instead."' (p3)
But otherwise, the book is mostly pretty good on the subject. Bliss is conflicted about her virginity. She doesn't want to be that person, the one who hasn't "done it" yet, but actually having sex? She's not so sure.
'I wasn't ready. Not at all.Then Bliss meets Garrick and the sexual tension is instantaneous. They can barely keep their eyes off each other, let alone anything else. Bliss realises, he is the guy. The perfect guy to have her one night stand with, the guy who stops her thinking and has her body wanting. They get to her place, and soon they are in bed, and things are moving. The sex scenes in the book - all two of them - are graphic, but not overly so. They're not like the kind you read in most NA novels. They're not tame, but they're not written for the sole purpose of being hot and sexy and turning the reader on. The two are, in a way, quite different. This first is about Bliss' first experience of anything sexual, and finally understanding what the fuss is about. However, when it gets to Garrick starting to remove her knickers, she panics. She can't do this. She's not ready. This is not what she wants. I'm not going to go into detail about how they get out of it, I'm not going to spoil it that much, but they don't have full penetrative sex, just mild foreplay.
There was a reason I hadn't had sex yet, and now I knew it. I was a control freak. [...] But sex, that was the opposite of control. There were emotions, and attraction, and that pesky other person that just had to be involved. Not my idea of fun.
I could do this. It was just a problem that needed to be solved, an item that needed to be checked off my to-do list.
It was that simple.
Keep it simple.
I didn't want to be a virgin. That much I knew. I didn't want to feel like the immature prude who knew nothing about sex. I hated not knowing things. The trouble was... as much as I didn't want to be a virgin, I also didn't want to have sex.' (p5)
The story then takes a turn, and focuses mostly on the romance aspect. Garrick is now Bliss' teacher, she is mortified, but they're still undeniably attracted to one another. It's difficult for them to keep away from each other, but they try to do what's right. It's a really sweet, adorable romance, and it's great watching it develop. It's actually really awesome to have an NA novel where there's all this sexual tension, but for the most part, no sex. The only problem I did have with the romance was that... we never really find out much about either character other than they're an actor and a theatre student, and as we don't really get to know much about them, I don't see how they do, either, so I found it difficult to believe when they fall in love. But otherwise, it's really, really lovely, and Garrick is just amazing (apart from the slightly cheesy, stereotypical Britishisms).
When we get to the second sex scene, when the two actually have sex, this time, it's sweeter. It's about their feelings for each other, Bliss' trust and love for Garrick, as well as her desire for him, and how her worries and nervousness go out the window. When it comes to being her first time, it's quite realistic about pain, but without being scary about it, and also shows it can be an enjoyable experience, too, which is another reason why I think this is good for teen readers (maybe older teen readers, some may argue). As I said, there are only two sex scenes, and as much as I enjoyed that, I did find it surprising that as a book about Bliss losing her virginity, the focus was much more on the romance than it was on sex. The sex is completely secondary, but I don't think that takes away from this great novel.
Overall, as a romance, Losing It is just gorgeous, and as a book that deals with a girl losing her virginity, I think it does brilliantly. If you can deal with not a huge amount of depth to the characters, Losing It is a wonderful novel. I'll definitely be checking out more of Carmack's novels.
Trigger Warning: There is some use of politically incorrect language in this novel that I was uncomfortable with. The language used made light of mental illness and self-halm; "borderline schizophrenic display" (p50) and "Twenty Seven. The Number of times I was tempted to do myself physical harm because I am an idiot." (p49) These are just two examples, but there are a couple more towards the beginning.
Published: 28th March 2013
Publisher: Ebury Press
Cora Carmack's Website