Femme Fatale: The Agency by CA Bell – Erotic Book Review
By Pleasure Panel reviewer K of the Oh Glow Blog
I wanted to like Femme Fatale: The Agency by CA Bell. I really did. I like spy-type crime stories involving secret agents, mystery, fancy outfits and gadgets. I also like erotica. The Agency, the first in the series of Femme Fatale by CA Bell, should have been my jam. The blurb promised a tale of deception, split-second decisions, sexual tension and subterfuge.
Alas, the book itself was … disappointing. Perhaps it’s just me. Perhaps the flat tone of the novel didn’t resonate according to my personal preferences. It’s a similar style used by various thriller novelists, in which everything appears to be narrated in the monotonous drawl of a police reporter, describing events with alacrity but with such blandness that all emotion is removed. This quality has caused me to give up triptychs smack in the middle, having hoped everything would get better or that I just got a bad translation and a different edition would be fine, before realising that no, this was all there was.
Even so, I am ever hopeful.
Monica Frost is an editor at Read Reid, a gossip magazine. Her days are mundane – she arrives early to the office, works late, settles in at home alone with wine and a film, goes out for pastries with her (apparently only) friend Jane, and visits her dementia-stricken mother in the care-home on Sundays. Sometimes she wishes that her life was a little more exciting, but that’s what her boss is for. Edward Reid is gorgeous, tall, wealthy, and his brief appearances in her life always add a little interest to her day. Naturally, she’s barely spoken a word to him in the five years she’s worked there.
Until she’s headhunted by the Femmes, an agency specialising in catching cheating spouses in the act and using beautiful women in fancy outfits and wigs to do so. Monica is recruited, there is a makeover scene in which the reader discovers how drop-dead beautiful she is, she’s given a bunch of tech and begins her new job as an infidelity-spy, infiltrating strip-clubs to snag concrete proof that spouses are cheating on their partners. On one of her missions, she discovers that her former boss might compromise her new life and needs to deal with this accordingly. Glamour and intrigue awaits; and Monica can’t wait. She even gets a cool new alias – super undercover agent-style!
Let’s not include spoilers, because it’s a fun fantasy story about hot babes playing spy. And I think that’s exactly what it’s meant to be. It’s a little window of escapism for you to fold yourself into and imagine that you, too, are a Femme, skilled in the subtle arts of erotic manipulation, seduction, laser-eyed observation, and walking in stilettos. The fact that the sexy boss is called Edward, and that no vaguely power-playish male character will ever be able to be named Edward without Twilight connotations shouldn’t bother you. The fact that the author justifies a nasty, misogynistic character by introducing him as a recreational drug user, and implying that he only qualifies as a sexual assault threat to the Femmes when he is on cocaine (as if drugs are an easy explanation to for this behaviour) should be easy to ignore as just part of the story. This is fantasy-land, after all. A little light reading before bed to inspire some swoony dreams of glamorous Mercedes-driven car-chases and really big yachts with spotlights over the bed. What does get to me, though, are the inconsistencies in the text – the use of both “hard on” and “hard-on” as a euphemism for an erection during the sex / fantasy scenes only make the grammatical errors more obvious.
Because the book does have minor errors. Right near the beginning, Monica squeezes her “friends arm,” while later she and Sharon engage in roll play (which, I’m disappointed to report, is exactly the same as roleplay and has nothing to do with spirited bread-making), and the two women “both smiles wide at one another.” And yeah, I’m being a bit nitpicky and everyone hates a grammar-fiend, but it sort of opens the book up to criticism on other weak points in style and narrative. Even that which is grammatically perfect can seem a little ludicrous when written in that uniform, descriptive tone. For example, while attempting to seduce Edward as part of an assignment, “Monica attempts to get his attention with her sexy eating.” Have you ever tried to eat asparagus chicken in an erotic manner? I rest my case.
There are some varied sexy scenes scattered in the novel, involving Monica’s first impressions of a BDSM club (which are fairly brief and focus her fascination with the S/M dynamic between the Dommes and their subs), a little girl-on-girl attraction and makeouts, a fantasy-driven solo session and sex with a partner. These add to the sexuality which is a prevalent theme within the book, emphasising the excitement of the protagonist’s glitzy new job. You’ll be happy to know that it ends on a positive note, with much room for further development of the series.
Overall, this short novel is a fun little escape into espionage, romance, lady-driven plot devices and fancy-dress. I couldn’t let go of my critical biases enough to stop unnecessarily interrogating it (what can I say; I make notes as I review things), but if you’re looking for a little light-hearted entertainment that fulfils all the fantasies you ever had while chasing the other kids around during hide-and-seek, you’ll probably have a grand time.
The erotic e-book Femme Fatale: The Agency by CA Bell was provided free of charge, in exchange for a fair and honest review by the Pleasure Panel, by the author. Thank you! 🙂
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