Having read Untouchable, Ava Marsh’ first novel, I couldn’t wait to get hold of Exposure, her second. Kitty Sweet is an infamous porn star in prison for double murder. Her real name is Leanne, Kitty Sweet being her porn name. The novel begins with Kitty/Leanne in prison having been convicted. Her best friend from school visits and tells her that her mother is dying. We learn that Kitty is not on speaking terms with her mother. In fact, most people in her life have shunned her. Kitty is later involved in a fight with another prisoner and so is asked/compelled in to therapy. One thing leads to another and she decides to tell her story to her therapist. The story unfolds from here, with chapters alternating between her recollections of the past and conversations in the present with her counsellor. The narrative takes us through how Leanne became Kitty Sweet, how she entered porn and rose to the top of the Adult entertainment industry. Finally, we learn of her fall and how she came to be convicted of double murder.
Untouchable, Ava Marsh’s first novel, was a thriller set in the world of the high-class escort. It was a great book in its own right. As well as being a brilliant thriller, it was an erotic novel that in some ways glamourized the life of the top-tier prostitute. Exposure, on the other hand, is a complete turnaround, at least in tone. It also works as a great thriller, but here the Adult entertainment business is portrayed as nothing but sleaze. In fact, the porn industry is well and truly trashed by the author who has clearly done her research.
I would go as far as to challenge any man reading this book to watch porn again. I’m not sure that it’s possible. The industry is portrayed as completely exploitative, the sex scenes as soulless, the actors and people who work in its production as either irredeemably damaged or cynical to the extreme. There’s nothing sensuous to be found, just women being preyed upon by men. This isn’t apparent at the beginning, Kitty being taken in by the faux glamour and the adulation of fans, but it doesn’t take long for the veneer of respectability - and it’s a thin veneer at that - to wear off. In the end, her tragic decline appears all too inevitable. In Ava Marsh’s telling, this is an industry sucks in the desperate and the impressionable, chews them up, and in spits them out again, wounded in one form or another.
Exposure is a raw, brutal and tragic novel. A step change to Untouchable, I wonder where Ava Marsh will go next.