I really had no idea what to expect when I opened the pages of The Insiders by Rosemary Rogers. I selected it purely because I saw it as a title on one of those book club advertising inserts that used to come in paperbacks back in the day. There was a little “Graphic Sexual Content” warning next to its title, and I figured that was the book for me. I figured, 1970s, written by a woman, lots of graphic sex and drugs…Sold!
|Avon Books, January 1979|
A little about Rosemary Rogers first. She’s probably best known for her romance novel, Sweet Savage Love, published in 1974, which apparently got lapped up by lots of teenage girls back in its day. It’s also known for kicking down the doors to the bedrooms of her heroines in somewhat more graphic and violent detail than most romance novels before it. Whatever the case, in 1974 I was reading Hardy Boys and Green Lantern comic books, so Love, both sweet and savage, flew way over my radar then.
Several years later, The Insiders is published. I would have been in high school when The Insiders hit the bookstores, but I don’t remember having heard of it then. Now, almost 35 years after its publication, I can only wonder exactly who the audience was then, and what kind of hidden twisted kicks were going on in their pretty little heads at the time.
I’ll go through this kind of quickly, so try to keep up. The novel’s heroine, Eve Mason, is a well known anchorwoman (or reporter, it’s not really clear which) in San Francisco and has recently broken up with her lawyer boyfriend David Zimmer. Eve spends most of her time pining away for David, wondering how she can win him back. While waiting for David’s affection to return, she spills her broken-hearted feelings out to her therapist, Peter Petrie. Peter’s therapy for Eve is a bit unusual, in that he has her record her feelings onto “sex tapes” after some screwing sessions in his bedroom. Yeah, it was the 70’s! When not screwing Peter and recording her sex tapes, Eve sleeps around with other men, but none of them mean anything, they’re just filling space in her life until David comes back. Eve’s roommate, Marti Meredith, is a model who has her own love-life problems. Marti is feeling a distinct polar chill from her current girlfriend, Stella Gervin. Stella isn't really sure she wants to be a lesbian, and is in no way as comfortable or open with her sexuality as Marti is. Stella also happens to be David’s secretary. David has recently introduced Stella to a rich old fart named George Coxe, who is looking for companionship between the legs of a beautiful (albeit confused) young ingénue like Stella. David assures Stella that she can have a relationship with a man, and proves it by giving Stella a right good rogering in the sack. David Zimmer sort of misses Eve while fucking other chicks, but he’s convinced she’s just a lying slut just like every other woman he’s known and bedded. He believes this because a co-worker of his, Gloria Reardon tricked Eve into banging another guy at a weekend house party. David caught Eve in the act, and retaliated by screwing Gloria Reardon. Gloria is British and has something of a sketchy background in the European sex trade, and takes delight in messing with David’s head. David takes out his anger on Gloria by screwing her up the ass. There is a LOT of ass-screwing in this novel!
David Zimmer has a 17 year old sister named Francie who is a whole bundle of hot mess; with major psychological hang-ups involving drugs and S&M. Francie makes the acquaintance of millionaire playboy Brant Newcomb. Brant is as handsome as he is cruel, and wastes no time in beating, raping and humiliating Francie for his own kicks. He quickly learns that Francie is one of those messed up birds that will always come back for more, and so decides to share her with various hangers-on in his circle. David learns that Francie has fallen into Brant’s evil games and immediately runs to Eve and begs her to go bring Francie back home. The reason he won’t get Francie himself is that the scandal of her association with Brant can hurt his career with his legal firm. Dave is one of those waffly dickheads that you’d like to see get their ass kicked as often as possible by people who know how. Eve, lovesick for David as ever, agrees to attend a party of Brant’s and return with Francie. That night, Eve arrives at Brant’s party and watches in horror as Francie gets auctioned off to the highest bidder out of a bunch of wealthy perverts. When Eve threatens to call the police, she’s surrounded, stripped, beaten, drugged and gang-raped by Brant and his buddies. Just for extra kicks, someone films the whole thing. The next morning, Brant takes Eve back to her apartment, where David is waiting for her. Dave, ever the thoughtful jackass that he is, immediately calls Eve a slut, a whore and a lying c-word. He calls Eve this often, ever endearing himself to her more and more. In fact, as Eve was getting gang-raped and penetrated in every orifice, her only concern was what Dave would think. Eve is an idiot, but you’ll have to hang with her for the whole novel to really appreciate what a complete and utter moron she is.
So, where was I…oh yes, Dave leaves Eve and runs off back to screwing Gloria in the ass. Eve cries and instead of calling the police, decides that she’s not sure if Dave is the right guy for her after all. While she’s in a quandary over Dave, Brant begins calling Eve and inviting her to come see him again. She’s really angry at Brant for the gang-rape and all, so she’s not sure she wants to ever see him again, except perhaps to slap him. Then Eve gets a job offer to co-host a morning show in New York. Off she goes to New York where she spends the next week co-hosting a national morning show with a cat named Randall Thomas. Randall, (oh…let’s just call him Randy, okay?) decides that in order to see if Eve is really right for the co-hosting gig he’s got to have sex with her. Eve doesn't have a problem with this and complies. To her astonishment, Randy gives her a good banging up the ass after an astounding session of foreplay. Eve then catches a morning plane back to San Francisco to prepare for her move to New York. On the flight back to California, Eve is astonished to find out that the person sharing the seat next to her in 1st class is none other than Brant Newcomb. Brant has been having sort of an identity crises of late. Turns out that beating and raping women has lost its thrill and he’d like to settle down and get married. Eve, he’s decided, is just the kind of strong-willed woman that he’d like to have for his wife. Eve, isn't sure she believes him, and really who can blame her…but she agrees to spend the weekend with him anyway. The only reason she does go off with Brant is because David had the audacity to show up at the airport to meet her with another young girlfriend in tow. Damn him, anyway!!!
Ah, man…I could go on. Does Eve accept Brant’s offer of marriage? Does David come back to her life? Does Francie grow up? Does Marti find love in the soft-core porn industry? My friends, the answer to these and other burning questions can only be found in the pages of this “searing and tender story of uninhibited love!”
Now that I’m done with it, I’m looking to go back to some good old fashion man-shit in my books, with lots of killing and things blowing up and stuff.