A New Year: Book 1 of Audrina´s Year of Yearning
Originally serialized on Kindle Vella, A New Year is a new set of contemporary erotic literature written by the talented Artemis Glass. The first book, subtitled "Audrina´s Year of Yearning," is also sometimes referred to as the first "season", as we begin in what passes for winter in Southern California, on a fateful New Year´s Eve party.
Our protagonist is a recent empty-nester whose husband Sol travels the US frequently with a major hotel chain. After teaching for many years in-person in public schools, Audrina now works remotely as an educational consultant. All of these shifts have not only made her happier within her career, but also more satisfied within her marriage. In fact, she is eager to explore some fantasies that have remained long dormant within her consciousness, to start fresh and make some new resolutions with this new year.
As the novella opens, we´re following her to a party hosted by her sister-in-law, Pilar, a photographer and queer activist. Audrina´s traveling solo as her husband is working out of state on New Year´s Eve, yet have a scheduled call at the stroke of midnight so the two can enjoy some phone sex. But before she leaves, she meets the mysterious and alluring Gayane, a friend of Pilar´s who is the quintessence of exoticism: an Armenian who grew up in France, a photographer, and candid about her experiences with kink and being poly. When offered a "shotgun" of smoke from her lips, Audrina cannot refuse; in fact, she lingers there longer than she expected, and thus begins her erotic adventure.
A New Year contains a number of deliciously sensual scenes, from the depiction of their phone sex scene to the first time the two women consummate their desires at Gayane´s modest apartment, a converted garage which lacks any kind of heating system and therefore requires the two share some serious bodily warmth. But what makes Glass´ writing refreshing is its realistic attention to detail in terms of her characters and their connections to their surroundings. While making out with Gayane in a public place, for example, Audrina runs into Rachel Marie, a former colleague. Far more conservative and unflexible in her values, Audrina fears the repercussions this encounter may have on her current job, particularly given that she works in education. With this episode, the author deftly reminds the reader that not everyone is open to bisexuality, polyamory, and non-ethical monogamy--gesturing that erotic fiction would do well to include more of these reality-checks, particularly in 2023.
Further, Glass goes to great lengths to make her characters grounded in reality, taking the time to reveal not only their attractions to one another, but their hesitations, concerns, and questions. During the two women´s first date together, Audrina talks about going to the hospital for a surgical procedure, and how this affected her relationship to her body, from weight-gain to body-image. She also confesses her timidity due to her lack of "experience", having had little sexual encounters outside of her husband for many years. Glass is astute enough to know that such brushstrokes both bring Audrina into sharper focus, as well as invite readers into closer identification with her and her feelings. With A New Year, we too can allow our fantasies to roam, and to learn ways of connecting them with our own desires--and perhaps even more.