When I was asked to review Night Shift by Joanna Angel I wasn’t sure what to expect. The book is the first Choose-Your-Own Erotic Fantasy book I’ve read. I wasn’t sure how this genre of book, which I mainly associate with kid’s adventure books would translate to erotic fiction. Joanna Angel is the founder of adult company BurningAngel and I’m a huge fan of both her and her companies work. I’ve read Joanna’s work before in Asarotica and had high hopes for Night Shift.
Night Shift is set in a little independent sex shop called Dreamz. Taryn works the graveyard shift after leaving college and not really having a plan for her life. Taryn has no real friends or relationships to speak of, so giving up her nights doesn’t feel like a sacrifice.
Dreamz, The Sex Shop
Dreamz is situated in Pasco County, Florida and is not your average sex shop. Owned by the slightly off-the-wall Sandy, Dreamz is one of the few remaining shops in Pasco County with a licence to have sex on premises. This takes place (usually) in one of Dreamz Roomz in the back of the shop. The specially fitted out spaces can be hired to test out the purchases Dreamz clients have just made.
Sandy, despite loving Dreamz seems more intent on getting drunk and having fun. She’s an older lady and Taryn is exceptionally fond of her. Sandy has a way of knowing her customers and being able to tap into exactly what they need. Taryn learns from Sandy the easiest way to put people at ease is to be non-judgemental and to try to understand their needs.
Taryn begins to feel at home in Dreamz, reorganizing the store and learning more about the items she’s selling. She also begins to form relationships with her customers. Depending on which version of the story you’re reading Night Shift will take you through just about every kink and fetish you’ve heard of and probably a couple you haven’t.
If you’ve never read a Choose-Your-Own book before it’s a simple premise, you read the first chapter to set the scene and then you’re offered a choice. At the start of Night Shift, the choice is a very simple one. To give the key to the Roomz hired by DJ Jimmy to him or to the girls with him. Dependant on your choice you’ll be given a page number to continue reading from. The book continues in this vein all the way through at points in the story where a choice can be made.
This means there are lots of different stories within Night Shift. Each choice takes you down a different path and leads to different experiences and characters. My first read of Night Shift had Taryn assisting a lumberjack called Billy to purchase lingerie for himself. Reading about her helping him to select items and making alterations to the pieces so Billy can wear them was touching. This wasn’t something I expected to feel reading erotica. Taryn becomes invested in helping Billy explore his cross dressing.
She starts to put things aside for him, selecting items she thinks he’d like. Then one night during a storm, they cross the line into something more than friends. Taryn experiences sex like she’s never had. Her and Billy begin on an adventure to explore sides of both they’ve been afraid to tap into before. I was sad when my first story of Night Shift finished. It was sweet but sexy and I very much enjoyed it.
Other choices within Night Shift will take you to stories involving all sorts of sexual adventures from Taryn’s budding relationship with Amanda, a rep visiting the store, to her being a Unicorn for a hot couple she meets while arranging a swinging night. There is even a special appearance by author Joanna Angel herself in one variant.
One thing I really enjoyed was the diversity during Night Shift. None of the story patterns are too similar and, in each variant, you see a different version of Taryn depending on the path she follows and the characters she interacts with, most noticeably Amanda.
The supporting characters are diverse and interesting. I feel like Dreamz is somewhere I’d love to spend a night, exploring the shelves and meeting likeminded individuals. Joanna Angel makes sure every character Taryn meets is fleshed out well, not just a way to engineer a specific fetish into the story.
A Little Education
As a reviewer I also really enjoyed the way Angel sneaks a little education within the book. It’s done so subtly and yet it’s there. As Taryn learns about the products she’s selling, and the fetishes she’s accommodating you as the reader learn a little something too. I smiled when Taryn almost sells silicone lube with a silicone toy and her rep girlfriend corrects her. It’s a great book for anyone with an interest in toys.
Seeing Taryn grow and change in each adventure really allows you to relate to t=her character. There were my favourites amongst the stories in Night Shift but there wasn’t a single story I didn’t like. I enjoyed them all in their own ways. Joanna Angel writes well, each story feels like the path is reached organically rather than being a jarring fragmented journey.
Descriptive Sex Scenes
I was fully absorbed into Taryn’s adventures. Rather than Night Shift being just about the sex, each choice path has its own story arch with the sex interspersed into this. I like this a lot. It was very engaging and kept me interested. The sex was graphic and frequent, which is what I look for in erotica. The varied nature of the different characters tastes means there is something for everyone within Night Shift. Reading Joanna’s descriptive sex scenes had me hot and wet. Working my way through the tales led to play on more than a few occasions.
Joanna Angel ensures there is humour and emotion within the stories too, I wasn’t expecting to emote so much and yet I did. Some of the endings were heart-warming, one was very empowering and at times I felt pangs of empathy for Taryn and the other characters. This makes Night Shift feel like more than erotica.
My only criticism of the book is sometimes the path you follow meant jumping a bunch of pages. Notably during my first adventure I went from page 37 to 233. This isn’t so bad in an e book as you can just skip further up the book. But if you had this in paperback it would be a bit tiresome flicking so far through the book. I assume this was purely due to the amount of content in between but it did disrupt the flow a little. None of the others seemed quite as bad as this one, but because it was my first path followed it stuck out.
I loved Night Shift. I have dissected it and read every single-story arch within it and can honestly say it’s my favourite erotica I’ve read for a long time. I’d love to see more of this type of erotica from Joanna Angel, I’d buy it.
If you enjoy graphic varied erotica with a difference, Night Shift would be an excellent choice for some bedtime reading. Night Shift is available for £6.99 for Kindle edition and £11.99 for paperback from Amazon. You can also buy it from Waterstones and Barnes and Noble.
I was sent Night Shift free of charge and in exchange for an honest and impartial review.