by Eliza Black
As its title suggestions, Dear Vivian : An Erotic Journal chronicles a sexual awakening, a series of episodes of ever-escalating sensuality and sexiness. We know little about the unnamed young woman who authors these diary entries: she´s in her mid-twenties, she grew up in a particularly strict Christian household, and has yet to lose her virginity. At the outset, she is determined to explore her sexuality to the fullest, to try new things along the way, and to live up to some promise she made to Vivian, the mysterious recipient to whom each chapter of the journal is addressed.
With this debut novella, Eliza Black writes with authority, detail, and steamy sex scenes. We follow her protagonist in some nameless small-town as she quickly escalates from meeting strangers in bars or at music venues to having sex in public, uncovering some hidden kinks, and more. She has threesomes with two bi guys as well as a bi man and woman, and goes on a serious of adventures with Keith, an exceptionally wealthy older man who is delighted to provide her with as many memorable entires for her journal as they can dream up.
But ultimately, her heart is more invested in Nathan, with whom she shares the most of herself. This quiet and sweet outdoors guy with all of the big muscles is the one she shares not just her body, but also her emotions, her pain, and her fears. Nathan is the one with who she explains who Vivian is, and why she is having these experiences and writing them down in the first place.
Black is masterful in knowing which breadcrumbs to leave for readers along the way in Dear Vivian, before offering the reveal in a penultimate scene with Nathan. And while some may deduce who Viv is before then, most will be surprised at how Black resolves her novella. Instead of a predictable "happily ever after", this author chooses an ending which is grounded in a more believable reality, ending this novel that is both surprising and seemingly inevitable, as well as quietly satisfying.
Dear Vivian is a wonderful introduction to an assured and intelligent erotic writer. I look forward to reading what she shares with us next!