Warning: This is a review of an erotica novel. This is not a book I would recommend to anyone under the age of 18.
Sexual awakening is a tried and true fictional story. Romance novels and other literary works use it to great effect but the story is usually chaste. The consummation of underlying passions normally occurs after great trial and tribulation for the main character. When erotica authors tackle the subject there’s a guarantee of sensual exploits. “Babysitting the Baumgartners” by Selena Kitt explores a young woman on a vacation that changes her life. Kitt uses the novel to walk some fine lines in terms of content. She does an excellent job in creating an atmosphere believable enough for the character’s inhibitions to be subverted.
Veronica is the main character, an ingénue barely over the age of 18. The story is written from her first-person perspective. Kitt uses this format effectively, letting Veronica’s awareness grow along with the reader’s. Veronica is repeatedly told by her employers that she is like part of the family, having worked for them throughout her teenage years. This isn’t the first time Kitt has used near-incestuous themes to add spice to her storytelling. For this story, Veronica is almost a surrogate daughter to the people she calls “Doc” and “Mrs. B”.
One scene in particular highlights the near-incest at play in the story. It also highlights the key difference between erotica and romance storytelling. Veronica discovers Mrs. B large toy and begins experimenting with it, fantasizing that Mrs. B is using it on her. It’s like how a child in a non-sexual situation might seek the love and approval of a parent figure, which only makes the fantasy in this scene more controversial and more erotic. In a conventional romance novel, the fantasy would remain as such until much later in the story. Kitt teases the reader briefly before fulfilling the fantasy a few pages later, with Mrs. B joining the young ingénue.
It would be easy to call this a coming of age story. In some ways it is. Veronica is still a child in some ways, despite having a few sexual experiences in her past. The story focuses on Ronnie’s sexual awakening, whereas most coming of age stories involve male protagonists reaching their sexual maturity. One facet I do find interesting is that there is no discussing of orientation. There are both hetero and lesbian lovemaking scenes. The narrative push is devoted to Veronica growing into an understanding of adult sexuality. Labels for orientation are not as important to Kitt as the connections people make in both carnal and emotional ways.
The vacation away from the rest of the world is a common trope for stories such as this. Removal from normal everyday settings allows the characters to branch out. It creates a self-contained universe where there are no judgments. In that universe there are no families to hide things from or possible shaming from friends. There is simply the experience.
The novel isn’t without a few flaws, however. I felt that the three lead characters were not fully developed people. There’s playfulness and witty dialogue between them at times but not enough serious characterization. The characters felt like cyphers through which the reader could place themselves in. This could have something to do with the pace of the novel, which felt rushed at times. The lack of development doesn’t make the story any less titillating but for me it detracted from my connection with the characters.
Kitt writes sex exceedingly well. Her skills at describing the physical and emotional realities of sex in graphic detail are excellent. The flowery jargon used by romance novelists to describe sexual activity is not found here. There are, however, copious amounts of grunting, begging, and thrusting to satisfy any erotica reader.
“Babysitting the Baumgartners” is a good but not great erotica novel. Selena Kitt’s writing style reveals the marrow of sexual desire. She uses common sexual fantasies and scenarios to excellent effect. Kitt is also unafraid to venture into taboo fantasy scenarios to give her readers something extra. I definitely suggest checking out this novel as well as her other works. You might want to keep a spare set of underwear handy though. There are times where you’ll need to change from the debauchery that lies within.