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  • Writer's pictureCarey PW

Review of Through the Lens by Adriana Kraft

I'm not a big reader of erotic fiction, but this book has a lot of interesting goodies to offer. Not only does it provide some erotic fun but the story behind its creation is fascinating and makes me appreciate the constant battle to protect our sexual freedoms. Also, it's a good selection for Pride Month as it honors bisexuality, polyamory, and open relationships. Keep reading for my review and some goodies from the author!

Genre: Romantic Erotica


It’s 2002, and South Dakota third grade teacher Ellen Jeffers has signed up for a photography summer course and assistantship at an art academy in Minneapolis. Thirty-three, divorced from her college boyfriend for nearly a decade, she’s not seeking major change. She just hopes the course will enhance her teaching skills and her resume. Aaron Brewster comes from privilege, and he has used that status to flaunt his family’s values and carve out a successful career as a photographer specializing in black and white erotic portraiture. Has he ever loved? His love is for beauty, sensuality, eroticism. His new uptight teaching assistant will never fit that vision. Should he send her packing? For reasons he cannot fathom, he takes her on as a challenge. Aaron’s frontal assault shocks Ellen, but it also triggers something deep inside she’s never been willing to acknowledge. Is her beloved prairie a safe refuge, or will it become a crucible for transformation? The choice is not merely Ellen’s.

My Review

4.5 Stars

I haven’t read much erotica, so this novel was one of my first tastes. If readers are hungry for sensual but fun sex scenes and a story of one woman’s sexual discovery, then this is the book for you!

Ellen comes across as a straight shooter, no pun intended, until she enrolls in a summer photography course and obtains an art assistantship. Like a flower, the reader watches her blossom and open-up. Readers follow her on a sexy adventure where she uncovers new routes to erotic pleasure and embraces her newfound sexual confidence. More intriguing, she discovers her bisexuality in the process. Coming into her own sexuality was an unexpected plot turn for me and probably the highlight of the novel. Ellen isn’t just experimenting with women; she’s becoming the person she was meant to be and finds herself connecting with other women in her family who dared to be themselves for love.

As an asexual, I focused more on the ways that the lovers in this novel desired to please each other. It was not a book just filled with sex scenes. Instead, readers see the characters developing bonds with each other. Readers witness the positive changes in them as they explore these new territories together both sexually and romantically. Also, as someone who used to live in Montana, the descriptions of the prairie brought back good memories!

The Story behind Through the Lens

Written by Adriana Kraft

That “lewd, despicable” moment: The birth of a story.

Are you old enough to remember cameras with film – and the long wait between taking a roll of photos and finally picking up the prints to learn what you’d accomplished? We remember. We even once had our own dark room, working with black and white film and prints.

For a while after that, we lived a couple hours south of the Minnesota Twin Cities. We’d finished writing The Heist, for which we studied about art museums, art theft, and the Dutch Masters. But our favorite artistic era is the Impressionists, which we’d often viewed in Washington D. C., Chicago, and New York. Once we knew we’d be moving out of the Midwest, we didn’t want to miss the substantial Impressionist collection at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

At the time, we also raised and showed Boxer dogs. Though we were winding down, we had four marvelous boxers living with us – whom we couldn’t leave alone for an entire day with no relief. So we booked them for a day at our usual kennel and headed north on the interstate early on a Tuesday morning, arriving at the Institute when it opened at ten AM.

We studied the gallery map and took the elevator to the third floor, where we found gallery 355 and reveled in masterpieces by Monet (probably my all-time favorite artist), Van Gogh, Seurat, Gauguin, and others.

We next entered gallery 351: Morisot, Pissarro, Degas, familiar friends. Then we turned around to view the wall behind us and were stunned. Seeming larger than life, in an oil painting over six feet wide, a seductive nude woman lay stretched out on a vintage couch, making eye contact with the viewer, enticing, inviting erotic fantasies, at the very least.

I’m not sure I’d heard of Caillebotte before seeing this painting. We later purchased a Great Courses DVD set focused on Impressionism and narrated by Prof. Richard Brettell, who for several years curated the European collection at the Art Institute of Chicago; I highly recommend the course.

What I didn’t know was that when the struggling artists who developed Impressionism were turned away from the annual Parisian salon held by the Académie des Beaux-Arts, Gustave Caillebotte was the person who financed exhibits for them and purchased many of their paintings. He willed his collection to the French government, and those paintings form the core of the Impressionist paintings now hanging in Paris.

But he also studied painting and became a respected Impressionist artist. I’ve since stood in front of his even larger Paris landscape in Chicago’s Art Institute, marveling at the tiny white brush strokes that make a diamond in a woman’s ear sparkle. The nude that now dominates gallery 351 in Minneapolis was never displayed or sold during his lifetime, considered too risqué.

We weren’t planning our next novel when we took this excursion. But our own surprise at seeing Caillebotte’s nude became the kernel of the next book we wrote – constructed around a 3rd grade teacher’s shock, our interest in photography, our own love of the prairie where we then lived, and of course our erotic romance interest in happy endings for bisexual women.

We set the story in 2002 – when photographic film was poised to become obsolete with the transition to electronic cameras. We wanted to give our characters a hands-on experience handling film and the nuances of black and white photography, both behind the lens and in the dark room.

You can read Ellen’s reaction to viewing Caillebotte’s nude for the first time in our Wednesday blog:

If you’d like to see the painting for yourself, you can find it at this link:

Additional Note

Several years back, we attended an eBook convention in Las Vegas, where we were privileged to participate in a book signing at the Erotic Heritage Museum. While the museum's collection is naturally designed to titillate and shock, it also features serious exhibits about the history of our freedom to access and share explicit content, as well as birth control - freedoms now in peril and under attack. I was struck on that visit by a wall on which were displayed as many as fifty or sixty black and white photographs of women's vaginas, each flower unique in a wide range of shapes and details. The docent in that gallery, seeing me taking so long with it, had a comment. "Many women who come through this gallery have never seen any other women's private parts. You'd be surprised how many are relieved to learn that they are not abnormal - there's no such thing as a 'correct' or 'perfectly shaped' pussy." That experience inspired us to create the wall of pussy photos in Aaron's private office.

Interested in reading Through the Lens? Purchase your copy at Through The Lens: 9781487429560: Kraft, Adriana: Books

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1 Comment

Adriana Kraft
Adriana Kraft
Jun 15, 2023

Carey, I'm so touched - thank you so much for this thoughtful review.

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