Meet Saylor Oz. Yes, like the place where the wizard lives. And
no, it does not help that Saylor, a sex therapist, is a rather
small person. Of course, people like to nickname her
She's really more of a poking-into-things kind of person, like
Dorothy. When Saylor's oldest friend, Gwen Applebee, is found to
have committed suicide, Saylor is sure that it was a setup and that
Gwen was murdered. For what, she doesn't know. But Gwen would never
be caught alive with a fanny pack on her waist --- and that's what
she's been caught dead in. The police won't listen, so Saylor
enlists her best friend and roommate, Benita "Binnie" Morales, to
help solve the mystery.
Just as soon as Saylor starts digging around, Gwen's murderers grab
her and give her an ultimatum: she has seven days to hand over
Gwen's tablet. Saylor has no idea what the tablet is or how she's
going to find it, but she and Benita are determined to figure it
out and save their lives.
That's enough for any girl to handle, but Saylor also has normal
things to do, like work (she's hosting a party to sell Do-Me-Good
sex toys). There are all the guys she's meeting and dating.
Eldridge Mace, a bad boy boxer, is a curious one, and then there's
the famous Hollywood director whose biggest reason for wanting to
date Saylor is that she's not gorgeous like all the other women
he's gone out with.
As Saylor and Binnie unravel more pieces of Gwen's mystery, they
learn the real reason she was murdered. It seems Gwen's latest
hobby and passion was perfume. Not only did she collect it, she was
also working on developing her own. The tablet Saylor is searching
for may have something to do with an ancient formula for a perfume
that's more like a love potion, thanks to a love goddess older than
While the Manhattan sex therapist uses her own knowledge on people
and relationships, she comes closer and closer to clues leading to
Gwen's tablet, both useful ones and failures. She and Benita learn
more about a friend they thought they knew well, and they are led
to more friends and foes, all of whom could have a tie to this
This sexy, exciting race against time is a gripping, fun read that
is hard to put down. Just when things get a bit too tough, we,
along with Saylor, are treated to a little romantic reprieve. There
is just enough going on to keep the story interesting, but it never
gets close to being smutty or too heavy-handed.
Obviously comparable to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie
Plum novels, APHRODISIAC (the first in a sure-to-be successful
series) has a bit more substance and more going for it. It is
certainly more diverse, with characters of different ethnic
backgrounds and sexual orientation. The Brooklyn setting lends
itself to an array of different moods and supporting characters.
Saylor's and Benita's lives are refreshingly like the lives of a
lot of people --- there's some fun and glitz when you can manage
it, like attending the launch party of a brand-new designer
fragrance, but there's also the pressure of keeping track of
friends and family, performing well at your job and paying rent.
That depth makes the book a great read.
The plot was fun and just believable enough while being fresh. I've
certainly never read another crime novel about perfume, and I'm
excited to see what comes next for Saylor.
Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gómez on January 5, 2011