Tell me the first thing that enters your mind when you see that cover art. Without knowing what this book is about, does that image remind you of something?
(Please let me know that I’m not the only one with a dirty mind around here. LMAO.)
If we’re friends on Goodreads, I might have flooded your feed with a selection of books that is quite out of character for me (if you’ve been noticing my reading trends and tastes). I’ve added quite a few “teacher-student/taboo relationship” books to my TBR. I know. I actually had a GR friend ask me if I’m not losing my mind because I didn’t add just one or two, I added A LOT. I’m picky with my erotica and taboo relationships is one of those subgenres that I am curious about. Even in non-fiction, reference books and such, I tend to read a handful in this subject. I assure you that I’m not going into deviant behavior myself. Hah! I’m just curious.
Which brings me to Tampa by Alissa Nutting. This is one of those discounted picks from daily ebook newsletters. The cover art was so different from the rest. It’s a button hole, okay? But it’s so clever. It doesn’t really tie in to the story but the double entendre is so stark.
Usually in taboo erotica stories, we experience it via third person or the POV of the “victim”… the much younger innocent girl or earnest “boychild” wanting to please his mentor. Very rarely do we hear the side of the suspect… the child molester or the “cougar”. This book is narrated through the eyes of predator: Celeste Price, a 26-year-old eighth grade teacher. She’s married to a rich, slightly older man who understandably, does not know of her much younger preference in sexual partners. Strictly sexual relationships only. Her job as an 8th grade teacher is a perfect hunting ground. Her preferred prey are boys aged 14-16.
Within the first few weeks at the school, the cougar pounced on 14-year-old Jack. She seduced the innocent child in her classroom to her car and to his own bed in his own home that he shared with his single father. They were careful not to be noticed and not to have any accidental pregnancies. Celeste taught Jack what to do and showed him what felt good to the both of them. Those parts of the book were pretty graphic and detailed but surprisingly nonchalant. It was as if Celeste was telling the story so casually over a cup of coffee.
After a couple of close calls with Jack’s dad – and because Jack was getting a bit up there in age – she moved on to another young child. But Jack had fallen in love with Celeste. In his mind, they were meant to be together while for her, it was a temporary physical relationship. They all lived in a small town and secrets were bound to get out. Celeste’s compulsion kept her going and it also caused her downfall. And even then, she had no remorse at all… it seemed like she didn’t think she was doing anything wrong.
If any of this sounds familiar, it should. This was very loosely based on convicted sex offender Debra Lafave. The author actually went to high school with Lafave. Seeing someone she knows on the news inspired her to write this book. And what a book! It’s like looking into the mind of a child molester with absolutely no hesitation, no shame. I think her only regret was not spending more time with that younger kid that she victimized. I’ve only seen this POV on Criminal Minds and even there, predators seemed dark and insane. Celeste was none of that. She is a psychopath in a way that she fooled everyone around her. And yet, she seemed normal and there were no indications that she harbored past traumas in her life to lead her to become a sexual predator.
Overall, it was a great read. Dark-ish yet very candid look into such a heavy and controversial subject.