– by Roslyn Sinclair
Having read Telanu’s fanfic of the same title first a while ago and had since been waiting in anticipation for its full publication because, first, “The X Ingredient” was so superbly written and told that when Telanu left me hanging at the end of the fanfic version with a promise of a full publication at a later time, I was beside myself with horror because….well, I really wanted to know what happened in the second act and Telanu spared no mercy with that cliffhanger! That was prolly 2 years ago?
As you know, Telanu is Roslyn Sinclair‘s fanfic pen name – and whilst we’re at it, I HIGHLY recommend you to go get yourself some Telanu reads because they’re simply a cut above, you’ll never realise you’re reading a fanfic piece! Her “Truth & Measure” (DWP)? Truly outstanding, one of my all-time favourite lesfic and I don’t even classify it as a fanfic, really. Top notch quality writing. Ok, ok, I’m sorry. I think I just went off-tangent here! THIS is about Ms. Sinclair’s newest book, “The X Ingredient,” the finished product of its original incomplete fanfic piece, which, technically is not, since Sinclair practically overhauled the entire DWP-inspired setting, basically scrubbing off any trace of it, toned down the level of “explicitness” (you know what I mean!) but just a little bit (no worries!), and reworked it into an office romance in a high-powered law firm with a new premise of the story. Now, if you’ve never read the fanfic, then you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about and it really doesn’t matter because this book is practically a newly crafted book, really. So, you can ignore what I just said about the fanfic.
Having said that, the nature of the romance between the 2 MCs remained the same – age-gap, rich girl/poor girl, boss/assistant, thawing the ice queen, forbidden love, coming out later in life (latebian), light D/s. For me as someone who read the fanfic first, I had to readjust to the change in the story setting initially but when I sank my teeth into it, I enjoyed it very much. I mean, who doesn’t like an office romance, eh? Especially when it’s devilishly written with erotic, delish effect!
As such, the office romance began with Laurie rushing through to her job interview with Diana, one of the named partners in the prestigious law firm and a renowned attorney in the city. Chemistry practically oozed from the start when Laurie first laid eyes on the prim and proper, exquisitely dressed, no-BS, gorgeous woman – Diana – who’d either hire her at the end of her interview or kick her to the kerb for being an utter loser especially with her pink streaked hair!
Before I proceed further, I need to point out that I loved Sinclair’s approach to presenting BOTH MCs’ POV, in alternate chapters and/or segments. So, I was able to explore Laurie and Diana’s romance from both of their vantage points because this story, imo, benefited from the reader being able to get into either character’s psyche to better understand their emotional journey as well as all their nuances as their attraction became more serious and deeper, effectively invested in their journey as lovers and individuals. So, thank you, Ms. Sinclair for opening up both Laurie and Diana’s very different POVs!
I utterly loved how Sinclair described both of these polar opposites – not only in age, but appearance and demeanour – as they quietly assessed each other as the interview went on. In my opinion, Sinclair has a knack for nailing her characters’ internal musings when it came to physical attraction. Laurie’s instant attraction toward Diana was palpable, thanks to Sinclair’s richly described nuances of what Laurie was thinking about and her body language.
Whereas Laurie’s attraction was acutely described, Diana’s was far more muted and calculated in how Sinclair depicted her confused feelings that surprised her to the core. I could sense Diana’s internal turmoil about why Laurie had this almost instant magnetic pull on her. That’s why I love Sinclair (Telanu)’s way of characterising every emotion, be it verbal or non-verbal, that her characters experience because the effect of her written expressions resonate. That’s exactly what she did with Laurie and Diana’s internal monologues. Especially Diana’s, because she was such an ice queen, a little fish out of water when it came to her unexplained attraction toward Laurie.
Speaking of our resident ice queen, I utterly LOVED Diana!!! Yes, I’m partial to ice queen characters especially those with the sharpest, caustic tongues! Having known just how brilliant Telanu/Sinclair is in writing fabulously devilish ice queen characters, I was dead chuffed to explore Diana’s character! And my anticipation was positively sated by Sinclair’s perfect portrayal of Diana! Right from the start, her visual description of Diana’s character, physically, mentally and emotionally brought Diana to life. I could clearly see her character in my mind’s eye, as she tried to no avail to repel Laurie’s increasingly irresistible pull. The icier and more caustic she was in her interaction towards Laurie, the more dismissive she behaved, the MORE sizzling their undeniable chemistry was, it was deliciously erotic!
I just loved how Sinclair displayed Diana’s utter confusion with her own actions with visually compelling expressions that I couldn’t help but felt Diana’s dilemma, her struggle to reconcile with her true self as her sexual awakening became more prevalent and inevitable. Sinclair effectively portrayed Diana’s journey of coming out later in life (she was in her 40s) – her chronic denial, lifetime of conditioning due to her religious upbringing, family expectations – with resonating effect.
I utterly enjoyed this push-pull between Laurie and Diana as their attraction toward each other reached fever pitch. Their first kids in the elevator was intoxicatingly breathtaking, acutely seductive and hotly passionate. Brief but thanks to Sinclair’s innate flair in describing every move, every emotion, every desire of what both of them were experiencing, that stolen moment reverberated with fervour. Both smitten characters were headily undone.
Hence, it marked the start of their physical intimacy experience which became increasingly erotic, not to mention the fact that theirs began as a D/s arrangement which was steamy, carnal and all-around electrifying, to say the least! Let’s just say that Sinclair’s flair in writing explicit scenes with such vivid detail, gives Meghan O’Brien, my favourite erotic romance writer, a run for her own money! Erotic, sensual, intoxicating, heady. And the D/s interactions between Laurie and Diana? Absolutely fun to read and explore as these two’s relationship slowly shifted gears as their emotional intimacy started to overshadow their physical one.
Needless to say, I have a feeling fans of erotic, light D/s romance will enjoy exploring this intriguing relationship! I sure did! And oh, I was so very glad that Sinclair decided to use one of the brilliantly crafted oh-so erotic ideas from one of her DWP fanfic pieces (if you’ve read Telanu’s fanfics, you’d know which one I’m talking about!) involving the…ahem…”vibrator” for this story! Trust me, you’re gonna have so much fun with it! I did! Bloody well done, Ms. Sinclair!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the secondary characters, Jenny Kayce, the cosmetic company mogul who was Diana’s de facto client (you’ll have to read the book to find out how she came to be). I utterly enjoyed all her scenes because she offered the funny side of the story with her eclectic character! Hilarious interactions with both Diana and Laurie! And.. 2 words: “Kayce case”..!!! LOL! I know, out of context but wait until you read it and you’ll know what I mean!
All in all, I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed Diana and Laurie’s unique romance which, to say that it was refreshingly fun, addictive and utterly absorbing, would be an understatement! Again, if you’re familiar with Telanu’s DWP fanfic, you’d be in for a whole lot of explicit thrills! Now, whilst I utterly loved this office romance, I wish there were more fleshed out office situations involving the secondary characters, if only to give Diana and Laurie’s forbidden love and their clandestine relationship a little more depth and a sense of danger/riskiness of being caught all throughout their journey. Since it was an office romance, I’d hoped to explore Laurie and Diana’s respective relationship with at least one or two characters working in the firm. Perhaps some banters of some sort. Maybe I was expecting something like the original fanfic. So ignore me because the lack of it really didn’t affect the overall effectiveness of the romance. It’s just my personal preference, mind!
Having said that, I HIGHLY recommend to every lesfic romance reader this brilliantly written forbidden, unorthodox romance that will keep you entertained from start to finish. It’s also a compellingly told journey of sexual awakening, self-discovery and coming out for such a self-assured, successful, powerful and steadfast character like Diana who thought she had her life and herself all figured out in her 40s. I thought Sinclair depicted her journey of truth and reconciliation, acceptance and eventual coming out later in life with acute sensitivity and resonance. I loved it.
For me, “The X Ingredient” was a bloody fun and fab read, that’s for sure! Reread material? Yes! If only to enjoy re-visiting the thawing of the utterly delish ice queen!
Read it and find out for yourself!
**I was given, with much thanks and appreciation, an ARC of this book, by Ylva in return for an honest review.
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