This is erotic fiction, and as the novel’s subtitle already indicates, the sex that happens in it is for the most part non-consensual and thus will definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea. I rather enjoy that particular erotica subgenre myself, but admit that I do sometimes worry about whether that really is okay or not; I have even been toying with the thought of dedicating a post on this blog to that subject, which might happen or not. For the moment, though, lets just assume that the genre is unproblematic and see how well Golden Angel does within that framework.
The novel’s plotline is almost classic, girl gets abducted and then trained to be a sex slave, gets sold but finds freedom and true love in the end. Apparently this is some kind of fix-up from several parts that were previously published individually, and you can see how the various stages of the heroine’s training correspond to those parts. The plot does get somewhat silly and implausible at the end, though (yes, even considering that this is a novel that features an international organisation trading in kidnapped women) and one can’t help the feeling that the author really went out of her way to give her heroine a Happy Ever After romance ending.
The characters are not exactly deep but not quite paper-cutouts either; generally they have just personality enough to make this erotica rather than outright pornography. Somewhat more problematic, at least in my eyes (as I rather enjoy some pornography from time to time) is that the writing never rises above the merely serviceable, which is rather a pity, as erotic fiction lives to a great part (that part that isn’t character, mostly) from its atmosphere and there is not as much of that here as there could have been. On the bonus side, the author for the most parts avoids the usual clichés so that no constant cringing gets in the way of reading pleasure.
What Claire Thompson does best is creating what I would like to call scenarios, i.e. she posits some kind of setting (a place, a household, an institution) and populates it with characters who stand in a certain relation to each other (partner, dominant/submissive) and who then act out their relationship to maximum erotic effect. Even though her characters are often rather sketchy, quite a few of them are memorable and prone to stick in the reader’s mind after finishing the book; overall, one often feels not so much like one is reading a novel but rather a play or (maybe more appropriate) a movie script. Everything considered, this was quite enjoyable (at least if you do enjoy reading this kind of stuff) not to mention titillating, but I have to say I rather preferred The Frog, the other book by Claire Thompson that I have read because that was more focused, preserving (to stick with the drama analogy) at least two of the three Aristotelean unities, namely that of place and action, while not being any less imaginative. Still, in spite of its flaws Golden Angel was definitely a fun read and I will likely be turning to Claire Thompson’s writings.