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This is a review without a rating, because I honestly have no idea how to rate it. At times I loved it, at others I hated it. In the end, after putting it down and elaborating on how it mad me feel, I'm no closer to setting a rating on in. Let me explain.
Tantalized starts with Jessica being shipped off to college; a decision her parents made for her. Jessica is suicidal and has periods of depression, but she's also angry at the world in general. She does what she has to: sign up for classes and attends (some of) them, but she does it grudgingly. When she meets Alexander - one of her professor - he opens up a new world for Jessica. A dark and sexual world where she is able to explore herself and what she wants.
I had the same problem with Tantalize as I've had with my recent readings: it's unclear what the purpose of the story is. Is it about mental illness? BDSM(ish)? Dark erotica? I just don't know. Sometimes spanning across genres is a good thing, in this case, I'm not so sure. Personally, I felt it caused some of the tension go away.
On the other hand, Jessica is such a well written character - complex and intriguing. She's also one of the rudest people I've had the pleasure of reading about. Yeah, pleasure. Because she's well written and you felt her pain and anger as had it been your own. The only flaw is the underlying reasons for her mental illness; there is none. Not one that is brought into light anyhow, and that was a big thorn that kept nagging me throughout the story.
The way Tantalized is structured also brings questions to mind. It's clearly not a romance, but the other main character (Alexander) isn't in the book - in person at least - until nearly a third in. Is he a major character? Or is he something akin to a plot device for Jessica to use? He does play a part in the story, but he isn't nearly as complex as the heroine herself. Was I supposed to care for him or was I supposed to hate him? Was I supposed to care for him at all, in any way? I just don't know.
The writing, however, is wonderful. A delight to read (as Campbell's writing often is). Perhaps all these questions were intentionally not answered. I just don't know. Despite them, I did enjoy Tantalized. But I also disliked it. Normally that would warrant a three star rating, but I just don't know.It's a complex story that can't be pinned down to a single rating. Meaning: read it and decide for yourself.