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Book Review: Quarter Past Midnight by CJ Asher

December 4th, 2014

Book Cover: Quarter Past MidnightOoo, what’s that?

That is CJ Asher’s debut self-published novel Quarter Past Midnight.

What’s it about?

Kate (aka Taylor) is a small town girl who quit her accounting job and moved to Philly to escape personal tragedy. While searching for an accounting job in Philly, Kate took a part time job at a strip club to pay the bills. Her boss there tips her off to another job at a swanky lingerie store, and before long, Kate finds herself in the middle of a high class “fantasy fulfillment” service of the sexual sort.

How is it?

Rayne’s Rating:
Pros: Cons:
realistic characters
decent story
unusual writing style
heroine isn’t likable
leaves a few questions unanswered

I had a really hard time getting through this book.

Being a writer, and knowing how I feel when people make similar comments about my writing, I really hate myself for saying that, but it’s true.

Here’s the thing:

I am a sex worker. Well, okay, I was. I don’t get paid for what I do, anymore (unless you count the whole being a kept woman thing), so I guess I can’t really claim that label anymore. But I started selling my body (willingly and on my own steam) when I was a teenager, and then, as an adult, I began writing about (and getting paid for writing about) sex, and selling things to help other people have better sex. I can say with a good amount of certainty that if I wasn’t currently in a monogamous relationship with a man who is not only content to be supporting me but demands that I allow it, and needed a way to support myself, I’d go back into sex as a career.

Sex is my thing. It’s what I do. And I’m fucking good at it.

So reading about how Kate felt about sex workers and her coworkers at the strip club infuriated me and made continuing to read and not let it color how I felt about the story (Kate’s story) a challenge.

Kate is not a likable character. At all. I kept reading, hoping she would redeem herself, and trying to understand where she was coming from. It became sort of an inside joke between Kate and me. “Hahaha, you’re such an asshole.” “I might be nicer on the next page.” I turn the page, and there she is, being an asshole again.

I don’t think she means to be an asshole. I think she’s well intentioned. She just doesn’t “get it”.

Kate is a stripper, which, in and of itself, is not an issue for me. I’m friends with a few strippers. If I had even an ounce of confidence in my dancing skills, I’d probably give stripping a shot, but while I can keep a beat, I’ve got no moves. None. So I leave that to the folks who do.

The problem, for me, was her opinion of her stripping job.

Kate’s single act is the most cliché “small town, good girl” stripper act I think I’ve ever seen, which I think is the point. She feels like she’s doing the men she dances for a favor by pretending to be interested in them. And she lets everyone know with her attitude that she feels like she’s degrading herself by doing it. And that’s just annoying. I mean, if you’re gonna do it, do it.

Kate is an idiot. Oh, she’s book smart, and she thinks she’s street smart, but when it comes right down to it, she’s incredibly naive, and a little on the closed-minded side. She sort of comes across as a strong person, but not because she is a strong person so much as she finds herself between a rock and a hard place. In reality, she’s a runner who flees to which ever situation seems least uncomfortable, like when she picked up and moved to a whole other city so she didn’t have to face problems in her personal life.

She seems to think that because she had a “good” upbringing by “upstanding” parents, she’s above her coworkers at the strip club. And when she takes a job at a swanky lingerie store, and finds out what the shop’s owner is really up to, she seems to think she’s above her boss, too.

Kate has little sparks of redemption throughout the book; tiny glimmers of moments when she allows herself to open her mind a little, and realize she’s being too judgmental. These little glimmers were what kept me reading, wanting to know if she would see how wrong she was. And she seems to in the end. Either that, or the money is enough to make her forget her morals.

All of this, from her well intentioned asshattery to how she feels about her stripper job, makes her a believable character, just not a likable one.

Gretchen, on the other hand…I fucking love Gretchen. Gretchen is a middle-aged, no-nonsense, fantasy fulfiller who embraces her sexuality, and her personality, and doesn’t give a single fuck what other people think about that.

Who does that sound like?

Sadly, Gretchen passes away, and Kate is left holding a very large bag, the contents of which she hasn’t even begun to comprehend.

The book is written in third person limited, and from Kate’s point of view, which is weird. Not bad weird, just weird. It sort of makes you feel like Kate is reading the minds of the supporting characters.

Ultimately, it’s not a bad story, despite Kate’s bullshit holier-than-thou attitude. There are some things I might have done differently, and a couple things that were sort of left open-ended, but when you’re done reading, you’re curious where Kate’s new life takes her, and that’s always a good thing. I just hope that if there’s a sequel, Kate learns some things about herself, and lets go of her inhibitions.

Would I recommend it? Sure. It’s not a terrible read. Would I read it again? No. I just don’t like Kate enough for that.

Where’d ya get it?

CJ Asher reached out to me and provided this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, CJ!

You can purchase it on Amazon.com right here: Quarter Past Midnight.

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  1. Heaven
    December 6th, 2014 at 20:37 | #1

    Kate sounds like someone you want to punch in the face. If you don’t like what you do then don’t do it. I am a cam girl, yes there are days that I want to curse every guy out for being idiots but I actually enjoy what I do, but that does not make me any better then the other girls who I cam with either.

  2. December 12th, 2014 at 10:50 | #2

    You were much, much more diplomatic about this book than I could have been.

    I read it on one of my day-long train journeys, and I almost permanently fucked up my vision by rolling my eyes so hard. Everything you’ve said about Kate was spot on. I’m not sure if the book was even really edited, because it was full of grammatical errors. Most notably, the classic Philly-ism, “done ____.” As in, “When I get done class, I’ll call you.”

    Nopety nope nope. All aboard the train to Nopeville, population Nopemillion.

  3. December 12th, 2014 at 10:59 | #3

    @ Sarah Most of the editing issues seem to have been format related, and were fixed for the print version. But yeah…the rolling the eyes thing. So glad I’m not the only one.

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