Book Review: “Sole Possession” by Bryn Donovan

I blame Bryn Donovan for a lot of things:

1. Reading and commenting on my former blog, even in its poorest-written, most insipid days.

2. Encouraging me to polish my writing skills by reviewing her first book, An Experienced Mistress, and interviewing her for said former blog.

3. Here’s the biggie: turning me into a bona fide romance addict. I’d previously disregarded romance and erotica, but An Experienced Mistress was hot. Two years later and I’m still hooked. I even attempted writing erotica – to which she gave thorough and supportive edits.

Damn you, Donovan. Damn you.

So here I sit, with better writing skills than I had in 2010 and a burning love for a genre by women, for women that continues to fuel the publishing industry. Here I sit, with a copy of Donovan’s new novel, Sole Possession, that she gave me for free with no obligation to review it. But I’m doing it anyway.

Book cover of Sole Possession by Bryn Donovan

And here’s why you should pre-order Sole Possession right now:

1. The setting: Chicago, the best city in the world and my home. And for the most part, Donovan gets the little things right (in other words, she’s not all “the Obamas live next to the Sears Tower!”).

The one little error I noticed was when a character said Hull House is located on the U of I campus. The University of Illinois at Chicago is called UIC by Chicagoans. “U of I” is mostly used to describe the university’s largest campus, in Urbana-Champaign. Everything else, however, is golden.

2. The story. I’m not always into paranormal, but Sole Possession successfully portrays the here and now – with a few spooky elements thrown in for good measure. David Girard is a personal injury lawyer (but don’t call him an ambulance chaser!) who’s inherited a house from his late estranged father. He hires badass female contractor Andi Petrowski to fix it up for sale, but Andi’s talents extend beyond renovation. Since childhood, she’s been able to see ghosts – and in this house she’s seeing plenty. Pretty soon David and Andi find themselves attracted to each other, but David has a dark past that’s not quite done with him and the spirits are getting restless.

3. The sass. I really liked Andi. She had the guts to ditch life as an office drone for a male-dominated profession, and she can hold her own with everything from power tools to employers who are expecting a dude. Even at her most frightened, she doesn’t squeal and flail. She fights back. Andi is a nice balance of relatable and heroine-awesome, and David’s a good match for her. Though he’s reticent in the beginning, he never crosses into stupid sexist jerk territory like certain “heros” (*cough* *cough* Christian Grey).

4. The sex. Donovan hasn’t lost her touch. Sole Possession doesn’t have quite as many sex scenes as An Experienced Mistress, but what’s there is lovely (and completely consensual). And take it from one who’s tried – sex is ding-dang hard to write. Heh. I said hard.

5. The fact that I kept picturing David like this:

Jeremy Renner, a very attractive man.
Jeremy Renner, or if you are my mother, “Jimmy Runner”. Image:

So yes, you should buy Sole Possession. Support a fellow P-Magger, have some scary fun, and maybe cross your legs a little while picturing the lurve-making. Sole Possession will be available in ebook October 15 and has already received a positive review from Publishers Weekly. Click here to preorder for Kindle or Nook, and become a fan on Facebook!

By The Unprofessional Critic

Lauren Whalen is a freelance writer living in Chicago. She reviews plays for Chicago Theater Beat ( and talks about movies on The Film Yap ( Lauren's young adult novel is represented by Chalberg & Sussman Literary Agency. Say hi to her at maybeimamazed02(at)gmail(dot)com. (Photo by Greg Inda)

13 replies on “Book Review: “Sole Possession” by Bryn Donovan”

Some links for general reference. I forgot to add them last night, but hey, I was tired and had gotten a small child to bed (who later woke me up again having peed on my futon, leaving my entire living room with the delightful aroma of pee.)

Vaginal Fantasy website
Vaginal Fantasy on Good Reads
#vaginalfantasy twitter hashtag- relevant stuff ends up there all month.

There have been 9 hangouts, 1-7 were on Felicia Day’s private channel and the rest are all on Geek & Sundry and will be from now on. This playlist has all the recordings in one place, but they aren’t in the order of when they happened.

We did Cthuhlurotica for September, with the alt being a paranormal romance with shape shifting dinosaurs that I’m STILL waiting on inter-library loan for.

October’s main is Poison Study (Study, #1) by Maria V. Snyder, with the alt being Master of Crows by Grace Draven. (But I feel really sketch about the Autism org supported by Draven’s book sales, as it’s very “autism is a huge tragedy!” and compares it with FATAL ILLNESSES like AIDS or cancer which is SO not cool.)

Also, there are local chapters for Vaginal Fantasy various places, which you can seek out via the good reads page. Apparently there’s a Canadian chapter somewhere called Beaver Dreams, which I think is hilarious.

Oooh, I didn’t know this was going to be here!

Dang, I wish I hadn’t gotten UIC wrong! I grew up downstate & my bro went to U of I in Champaign. I’m glad you mentioned that though, I like to know when I do something like that!

I like Jimmy Runner (ha ha) for the hero! I bargained to retain the movie rights. God only knows why. It made me feel fancy, I guess. :)

Thanks so much. You’re too kind.

Thanks for the comments, everyone! And definitely make sure to pre-order this book.

I just realized: I referred to “the Sears Tower”. In reality, it’s called the Willis Tower. However, I and most Chicagoans I know still insist on calling it the Sears Tower. Just like we still call Macy’s, Marshall Field’s.

Oh goodness, yes! I certainly hadn’t gone for this genre before, but I’m gently (had to leave it for a little while because the tension, dear goodness, the tension!) making my way through An Experienced Mistress and loving it. Did confuse Mr. Juniper a little however, when the parcel arrived from Amazon and I was squealing, “It’s here! An Experienced Mistress is here!”

Would pre-order Sole Possession but don’t have an e-reader – hope it’s out in paperback before long, like An Experienced Mistress!

Ooh, I LOVED An Experienced Mistress! Sole Possession will be coming out just in time for my birthday, so that’ll be my birthday present to myself.

Seriously, folks, though — Bryn is one of my absolutely favorite people who I’ve met through various online circles, and she absolutely deserves our support, which is made incredibly easy by the fact that she’s an impressively talented writer. Can’t wait for the new book!

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