NIGHT OWL starts with email and IM correspondence between Matt Sky, who publishes bestselling novels under the pseudonym M. Pierce (and whose true identity is known only to his literary agent), and Hannah Catalano, who is Matt’s online writing partner. They have agreed to absolutely no exchange of personal information or photographs so they can fully immerse themselves in the story they are writing, and know each other only as “Night Owl” and “Little Bird.” But the story explodes immediately when Hannah accidentally sends Matt a picture of herself, and his imagination—and the eroticism of NIGHT OWL takes off.
The layers of the story captivated me right away—Matt’s pseudonym is the same as the author’s pseudonym, and we immediately wonder if we are reading Matt’s version of his and Hannah’s romance. These layers continue through the novel as Hannah reads and is affected by M. Pierce’s work without knowing the author has been in front of her the whole time. Through the light moments, the sexy moments, and the heavier moments, the writing stays beautiful, with poignant lines that feel incredibly honest and brought me to tears.
There is no such thing as loneliness. There is only the idea of loneliness.
There are too many great ones that I won’t quote, for fear of giving away the plot!)
Though Hannah and Matt do not meet in person right away, the passion that exists between them is immediately palpable. Matt’s dominant personality comes through clearly in his messages and texts, which quickly become X-rated—and whew, does he have some dirty, blush-worthy things to say! I loved that Matt didn’t hold back and wasn’t afraid of Hannah’s reactions, but at the same time we could see a vulnerability in his behavior. I anxiously waited for the explosion when the two would meet in person. When they finally do, it was everything I wanted: no slow build or budding relationship here! Matt immediately stakes a claim to Hannah, and she gets off on every bit of humiliation he imparts.
While Hannah does play the part of the more innocent heroine, there was nothing eye-roll worthy about her behavior. She immediately accepts the fact that she likes Matt’s humiliation, and decides that’s OK. She enjoys it when Matt calls her a slut in bed, and doesn’t second-guess her desires. It was refreshing to read.
“Matt… I don’t want a perfect gentleman.”
“What do you want?”
The alternating perspectives are well done, but it is Matt who steals the show. The author nailed his voice, and it’s one of the best male perspectives I’ve ever read. Matt has similarities to the popular brooding millionaire with untold secrets, but he’s more refreshingly complex than any stock character. While Hannah’s deadbeat boyfriend and abysmal job are discarded almost on page one, Matt does have a girlfriend for the majority of the story. But rather than turning Matt into a cheating, one-note character, the girlfriend gives us insight into Matt’s dark, solitary world, and it’s clear that the comfort of the sterile, impersonal relationship he has with her supports his own need for isolation. Meanwhile, we revel in Matt’s struggle to understand his desires for Hannah, and the incredible sex that ensues.
Again and again we went there together – tumbling over the raw edge, touching the live wire, collapsing, exploding, dissolving like dead stars.”
Matt’s secrets do, of course, lead to an inevitable explosion—and the emotional climax is incredible. M. Pierce embodies Matt’s manic character perfectly as he spirals downward, and I started tearing up as I experienced what Hannah might be seeing from his point of view.
With off-the-charts chemistry, awesome eroticism, and powerful writing, NIGHT OWL gets 5 stars from this reviewer. The book ends on a crazy cliffhanger, so I’m off to read the sequel!