Tuesday

Book review: Tear You Apart by empress of erotica Megan Hart

"I carry the weight of my secret like a stone, and I hold it in both my hands because I don't want to let it go."

Megan Hart writes about sex. That's the simple version.

But there's no such thing as a simple version with Hart — she writes books that lure you in with lust and mystique and then sink their claws into your most vulnerable emotional spots until you're huddled in a corner sobbing. She writes about love, loss, evolving as a person and, yes, about sex in a way that's lyrical and sincere. Tear You Apart, named after a badass She Wants Revenge song, is another unflinching, unapologetic erotic novel that consumes one's thoughts long after the last word.

The title is a warning. This book will leave you in shreds.

Another warning straight from the novel's sexy leading man: You never know how thirsty you are until someone offers you a drink ...


The story is narrated by Elisabeth, a married 40-something who works at an art gallery and whose twin daughters are already out of the house. You've heard of the Hollywood meet-cute, correct? Well, when Elisabeth meets photographer Will at an opening and unknowingly insults his portrait while he mischievously eggs her on, it's not a "meet-cute" so much as it is a "meet-hot-and-freaking-supernova-sexy."

Poor Elisabeth, I thought. Early in the book, I found Will to be too hot, too smooth, almost one-dimensional. The narrator was helpless to resist. When they first get it on (and trust me, this isn't a spoiler, they get it on a LOT), I thought there was so little build-up that it would fizzle out and I wouldn't really feel for the characters or emotionally connect to their situation, because it seemed too effortless, too plotted.

Wrong. I was so wrong.

This isn't just a book about a bored wife whose husband is away too much and doesn't appreciate her. It's not just about steamy, illicit encounters, or about envying a glossier, more exciting lifestyle and imprinting on someone who represents that. This book is about love — how it begins, how it fades, how it can turn two sensible people into absolute maniacal monsters, grasping for each other, unsure of whether they want to embrace or strangle each other.

Hart chose to do something very interesting with Elisabeth. She experiences synesthesia. I've always found synesthesia — perceiving one sensory experience simultaneously with an unrelated one — absolutely fascinating. It's the perfect literary tool, an excuse to metaphor your little heart out by writing about hearing colors and smelling sounds and tasting words! I lost my breath a bit every time Elisabeth said Will's voice saying her name sounded like the ocean. Her synesthesia provides a creative frame through which we can be voyeurs and feel the intensity of everything happening to her.

As the story progresses, Will and Elisabeth begin to fill all the cracks in each other's lives. They're in constant contact, each the invisibly dominant force in the other's world. Every text, every call, every kiss, every heart-shattering fight is so charged. There were times I put the book down and started pacing and shaking.

Now, I love books written in first person. They're the most relatable, because it's like hearing our own thoughts. It's much more intimate hearing a person's take on what's happening to them than hearing it from some unseen consciousness telling us little more than what we could guess from body language and dialogue. But first-person narrators are notoriously biased and unreliable. Elisabeth didn't strike me as cruel or a sociopath. So even though her husband was a complete tool very deserving of being slapped in the face with a bag of manure or something, I call shenanigans on her repeated assertion that she felt no guilt from her betrayals.

There was so little development of Elisabeth's family life, which is understandable because Will is the main attraction. However, to justify how family affects Elisabeth's decisions, Hart could have shown more. I would have found it far more interesting than backstory about Elisabeth and her boss, or a throwaway scene with a gal pal who has her own problems.

I will give nothing away, but I'll say that I'd gladly volunteer a nonessential organ if I had a guarantee she would write a sequel. The ending left me with a lot of questions and a lot of topsy-turvy emotions.

Did Will win me over? Oh. Yes. I love him and Elisabeth together and desperately wish I could read more. If Tear You Apart were a movie and I were the casting director, Will would be played by a long-haired Bradley Cooper, and Famke Janssen would be my Elisabeth.

This is the third Megan Hart book I've read, after Dirty and The Space Between Us. None of her books are formulaic romances. The endings aren't predictable, and they aren't always happy. But Hart's work doesn't feel emotionally exploitative (I'm looking at you, Nicholas Sparks, you cad) — it's just very true to life. This is an incredible but difficult book. I wholeheartedly recommend it and anything else by Megan for readers who have the seemingly opposed desires for both escapism and an intellectual, emotional challenge.

You can pre-order Tear You Apart on Amazon ahead of its August 27 release. Do it.

* Ms. Megan Hart herself kindly sent this to me for review. No type of bribe was given, and my opinion is totally my own. Which makes it correct.

3 comments :

  1. Hi Liz:) Thanks for your review on this book, it sounds interesting!

    I nominated you for the Liebster Award ♥

    Check it out here!

    Camille, Miss Blissery

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  2. I love Megan Harts books! I have read all of her erotic ones and she is just fantastic at making you fall in love with one or more characters. She brings characters in from her other books too! I can't wait for this one! Awesome review, very thorough!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Melissa! Which of her books do you recommend I check out next?

      I am really really REALLY hoping we see more of Elisabeth and Will, like them popping up in another book even for a cameo. Fingers crossed!

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