The Club by AL Brooks is an erotic novel about a lesbian sex club in Manchester. It’s structured in a way I’ve never quite seen before, blending erotic romance with erotica, and it works very well.
Mandy knew what she wanted for years: a place women can go for the safe, anonymous same-sex hookups that weren’t always available to her in the early 90s. She spent years climbing her way up from working at clubs to running them, all towards her dream of opening her sex club.
The Club is a haven for many—women who are there for a little no strings attached “me time” sex; women who are too shy to ask someone on a date, but crave the intimacy and touch of another woman; women who are unhappy in sexless, long-term relationships; and even women who are happily married, there together because one wife isn’t able to offer the other the one thing she craves most. All are welcome at The Club, so long as they obey the rules.
With a cast as big as this, it would have been easy to make the characters shallow, but A.L. Brooks does a great job of fleshing out each. Their motivations and perspectives are clear, and they’re all very human and relatable. I also like that there’s a range of body types, affirming the idea that all women deserve good sex, not just the ones with perfect bodies that we often see in erotic fiction.
The Writing Style
The Club is so well written that I can’t believe it’s AL Brooks’s first book. The writing is clean and engaging, but the real strength is in how it’s structured. It almost straddles the line between full-length novel and short story collection, with each woman or couple’s story followed individually, threaded together through their interactions at the club. Mandy is the only character we see followed from the beginning to the end, and even that is through a series of flashbacks that tracks her journey to opening the club.
The blend of erotica and erotic romance is also interesting and works well. I define erotica as when the sex drives the story and there’s not necessarily a happily ever after, and erotic romance as when the sex drives the relationship and there is a happily ever after (or happy for now, at a minimum). We see both in The Club, with characters like Kath, who visits to blow off steam when she’s not caring for her elderly mother, and Cassie and Nina, who work at the club and finally admit their attraction to each other. Because the point seems to be more about celebrating lesbian sex and embracing sex positivity than anything else, it just works, whether we’re seeing sex between strangers, a committed couple, or couples that are just forming.
Excellent, varied sex writing. Interesting, relatable characters. This book delivers something new to the world of erotic lesfic that I didn’t even know was missing.
Some readers won’t be able to get past the plot line where Max cheats on her girlfriend, or when Tania and Jacky visit together so that Tania can finally have the one sexual thing that Jacky can’t give her. I would recommend trying the book anyway and skipping those parts if you need to.
The Club isn’t going to be for everyone, but I loved it. It’s exciting to see authors play with plot structure, especially when that effort pays off in the form of a complex, nuanced, compelling book like this one. I recommend it to anyone who likes a good, erotic read.
Excerpt from The Club by AL Brooks
“Thanks again. It’s a while since I got out of here on time,” said Mandy, smiling.
“No worries.” Nina played with the loose strands from her ponytail. She was itching for Mandy to leave so that she could lock that front door behind her and then get back to Red…and Cassie.
Mandy stopped as she pulled on her jacket. “Everything okay, Nina?”
Nina fought the blush that attempted to invade her cheeks. She nodded. “Fine,” she replied. “Just…fine.”
Mandy cocked her head to one side briefly, her expression thoughtful, then shrugged on her leather jacket and picked up her handbag. She walked out of the office, and Nina followed behind her ready to lock the door.
As Nina closed the door, Mandy turned to her. She stared deeply into Nina’s eyes until Nina dropped her gaze. Mandy’s piercing stare seemed to cut straight through her.
“Be careful with her,” murmured Mandy. “She’s not as…robust as you are.”
Nina stared at Mandy in surprise, and Mandy smiled back, understanding written all over her face.
She nodded once and then stepped out of the door, leaving Nina to push it closed behind her.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9783955336547
- Publisher: Ylva Publishing
Note: I received a free review copy of The Club by AL Brooks. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.