Review of The Next Life by Lise Gold and Madeleine Taylor, Audiobook narrated by Abby Craden and Tessa Stavers
It’s no mystery that Madeleine Taylor is Lise Gold’s pen name for her erotica books, a secret that she unveiled a few months ago, though many of us suspected well before that. Many authors use a pseudonym to write a different genre, for example, Kris Bryant writing erotica as Bryt Rider. Writing under two different names is not uncommon but it’s strange that Ms. Gold brought both names together in her latest novel. This book is high on erotica and romance parts so it makes sense to include both names and raise Madeleine Taylor’s profile in the process.
After a painful divorce from her husband, Reina Amari lives a quiet life by herself in a mansion in the Hamptons until Belle Rodgers comes into her life. Belle is a single mum working as a pool technician by day and escort by night. She has a crush on Reina which she keeps a secret until Reina books her escort services. They share sizzling chemistry but their differences in lifestyle and age might get in the way…
The Next Life combines Lise Gold’s heartwarming romance and Madeleine Taylor’s super hot erotica, the best of both worlds, really. Before reading it, I was wondering how this “collaboration” would work but now I realise that it was a great idea. I like the balance between romance and erotica, keeping the latter milder than in Madeleine Taylor’s books but still very hot.
This is an opposites-attract novel where the characters are not only very different in terms of age, social class, sexual orientation and profession, but they are also in different moments of their lives. Reina is coming to terms with her divorce, her sexuality and her grown-up children flying the nest, while Belle is a lesbian single mother of a 4-year-old girl trying to make a good life for them. But both women are lonely and they share a connection that goes beyond the physical.
This isn’t the first time that Ms. Gold introduces an escort main character, the other that I remember was in The Scent of Rome. Both escorts are sweet, driven and hot. Reina is in a difficult moment of her life in which she feels she needs to start over in different aspects such as her sexuality, her career and her relationship with her family. She is in turmoil and feels like her social circle cannot help, the setting in the super-rich area in the Hamptons reinforces her sense of not belonging and marks the differences with Belle even more. Her journey of transformation towards her “next life” is the most powerful message of the book.
I’ve listened to the audiobook narrated by Abby Craden and Tessa Stavers, the first performing Reina’s point of view and the latter Belle’s. I’ve said numerous times that I’m not a fan of two different narrators as I struggle with the change of voice for the same character. While I didn’t love this, I eventually got used to the change of voice until I could ignore it altogether. The choice of Abby Craden to perform the older character and Tessa Stavers the younger was very smart and both narrators did a great job.
If you are looking for an entertaining and hot erotica romance, this one is for you. 4.5 stars.
Length: 9 hrs and 44 mins