"Exposure" Ava Marsh
Kitty Sweet is in prison, charged with double murder. She’s as damaged as she is charismatic, as dangerous as she is charming. And now she’s been invited to tell her story, to explain how on earth it came to this.
Hers is a story of heartbreak and desperation, of adulation and glamour. Of ruin. She’s descended to an underworld that most people can only imagine and she’s lived to tell the tale…
This novel opens in 2016, with Leanne (Kitty Sweet) in prison serving her sentence for double murder. The writing is gritty, making the reader very aware of the brutal world of prison with its favours, game playing and the need to be constantly alert and wary of every other inmate. Leanne knows she must never give anyone leverage over her despite how tempting it is to confide in someone you think could be a friend. The language is brutal, coarse, offensive and harsh but used by Marsh to create authentic and believable characters. She ensures that the right atmosphere and setting for her hard hitting story is established. By the end of the first page it is clear this novel is not for the faint hearted!
We then move back to 2004 when Leanne was only 19 years old, returning right to the beginning in order to find out just how she has ended up in prison for murder. Finding herself in serious financial difficulty thanks to her ex-boyfriend, Leanne starts to earn extra money by posing nude. The lure of the thick wad of notes becomes too enticing and too "soothing for the soul" and before she really can stop herself, she has entered the world of porn movies and begins to earn a significant income this way. She doesn't walk into this lightheartedly; there is plenty of dilemma and conflict surrounding her decision which she is never fully comfortable with but she is young and this is "easy" money. It is not until the work becomes more pornographic that she realises there is no going back. The passages describing her work and the seedy world of the porn industry are incredibly explicit and graphic. Again, they are not for the faint hearted or prudish. They are eye opening and hard hitting.
Leanne is a character you can care about. She is naive from the outset and the truth of her situation - of the effect it will have on her and how it will shape her- only dawns on her later. Marsh has written a book which "exposes" the porn industry and explores the effect it has on the people within it. From the outset the reader is pulled in and pulled down in to a dark, violent, exploitative and uncomfortable world. She doesn't hesitate to include shocking detail and language, but manages to create a story in which she is not passing judgement or making moral comment.
The chapters are short. The novel is well paced with a good build up of tension. It is full of action and colour. The language is explicit and there is a lot of erotic and sexual content which at times is quite overwhelming. However, there are lots of reviewers who are captivated by Kitty Sweet and compelled to find out her full story. This could be the next "Fifty Shades of Grey", albeit a much more gritty version.
Thank you NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book in return for a fair review.