Ingredients to a successful relationship? To love? Good sex, according to thirty-something and single Melanie Leon who cannot seem to make the leap of commitment and instead relies on the “friends with benefits” approach… until she meets police officer James Perolo in T. A. Pace’s The Opposite of Love. As witness to a tragic car accident resulting in the death of an infant, Melanie recounts the impressionable details to Perolo who follows up with a phone call offering some emotional consolation that leads to a first date.
In the wake of overcoming the toll of the accident, a relationship is on the horizon for Melanie, a real estate consultant who is no stranger to attraction and who finds herself overwhelmed with Perolo’s ability to physically satisfy her. On a racy thrill ride through Las Vegas where “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” Melanie seems to send her inhibitions on a vacation. A little gentle coercing by James leads her to participate in some sexual escapades at The Green Door where she is liberated in secret, or so she believes.
As her friends and family question the validity of the recent connection she has found with James and haunting memories of her father’s death, Melanie begins to explore her own reticence over relying on a man who possesses a power over her that she cannot deny or refute, especially in the bedroom. And despite the chemistry, there is a resonating disquietude; each harbors a poignant secret that seems to cast a shadow over their future together.
Pace’s book has Erica Jong stamped all over it in its candor of female sexuality and how it factors into the psychology of relationships. Intimate moments abound in a story that challenges the limits people can defy in discovering what love is, only to recognize it is the opposite of that.
When 37-year-old Melanie is challenged to find a mate by her overbearing mother, she finds herself in a relationship that pushes her sexual boundaries, and in a place like Sin City, that can be a precarious ride.
An homage to Erica Jong’s Any Woman’s Blues, The Opposite of Love is a psychological/sexual ride through Las Vegas and its local sex scene as experienced by two lovers who will test each other’s ability to accept them as they are, as well as their own ability to accept themselves.
Excerpt from the Book
James arrived at Melanie’s door promptly at seven-thirty wearing a suit and carrying a bouquet of flowers. Melanie opened the door in a burgundy chiffon gown that draped modestly in front and dramatically in back, with a slit up to her mid-thigh on one side. She spun in a circle, modeling for him, and he let out a low growl in sincere approval. Without a single strap holding it in place, it seemed like the dress could just slide right off of her shoulders. The thought made his dick pulse.
“That is some dress, babe.”
“Glad you like it,” she said. Then, nodding at the flowers, “For me?”
“Who else?” He handed them over with a kiss on the cheek.
He’d had his truck washed and waxed and when he opened the door she climbed in gracefully, her leg sliding out of the open slit in her dress, then sliding back in before he closed the door. That visual image reminded him of what he’d be doing to her later.
James didn’t always bring a date to the policemen’s ball. The last time he had was three years before and his date had worn a short, silver sequined dress with porn-star cleavage and platform heels that looked like they’d just fallen off a pole dancer. She’d had too much to drink and giggled at everything anyone said. Did she make his dick hard? Sure. But she looked like she was paid for, and that didn’t help his image with the higher-ups. Melanie was the kind of woman who could be sexy without being trashy and manage interesting conversation and drinking without being silly or embarrassing him. She was the kind of date who could help him get promoted.
It was August and monsoon season was at its worst. Almost daily, black storm clouds materialized over the valley, looming like dark ghosts, dropping an inch of rain and hundreds of lightning strikes in the matter of an hour, downing trees and power lines and causing flash floods before moving on and leaving the residents feeling vaguely assaulted. But worse, the air had become the one thing locals couldn’t tolerate: sticky. Even humidity of thirty percent was likely to have a Las Vegan mopping his forehead and complaining of swampy weather.
They valet parked, and once inside the casino, they were safe. No matter the weather outside, the air-conditioned wombs of the casinos were always mild and dry. As they crossed the casino floor heading toward the banquet hall, men playing blackjack and craps twisted their heads around and leaned back from their tables to get a look at Melanie. With her high heels she was still about two inches shorter than James, but the way she held herself made her appear statuesque. She didn’t have bombshell curves, but her femininity was palpable and what curves she had were classy. She held her head high and kept her arm threaded through his as they walked. James tried to remember ever feeling so proud to have a woman on his arm, and couldn’t. The thought made him a little nervous, but more than anything, he felt like the man. His colleagues would be insane with jealousy and insatiable with questions.