Summary: Meet a girl online: check! Befriend and flirt for two months online: check! Know her in person for two weeks: check! Move in together! Well… this can only end well! This is the big one, people! In fact, it’s so big we had to up the page count!
Sunstone, vol. 4, by Stjepan Sejic 8.0
This latest volume of ‘Sunstone‘ (a fifth one is scheduled for release later this year) focuses further on Ally and Lisa’s relationship, how they were unable to admit their feelings to each other, how they were passive-aggressive about dealing with issues, and how this comes back to take a chunk out of them later.
I say this in the past tense because it’s now clearly established that Lisa is recounting their story five years after the fact, and that for all the pitfalls and potential problems, they are now very happy together. It’s an in-depth look at the seeds of their love and the many things they’ve learned to make it grow.
In this one, Lisa brings Anne into their fantasy life, making her the third character in her “Allison and Lisbeth” erotica series as thanks for her stellar tattoo work. While the character already existed, as Sarah, now Lisa establishes that Sarah is the character’s sub name, and that her real name is Anne.
Of course, this leads to a lengthy bit that introduces “Sarah” to “Allison”, who would become her new mistress. To me, it felt like a gimmick to kill time and to further indulge the readers – not only did it have the two interact in an initial master/slave dynamic, but Anne was extremely turned on by what she read.
(If a bit gratuitous.)
For all my misgivings, this part does, however, help initiate us to the basics of BDSM relationships, since Anne’s new at this and has to have it all explained to her by Lisa in person and through her erotica – now that Sarah is part their story. We’ve already had a glimpse of it before, but this fleshes it further.
From a plot perspective, Lisa’s decision to make “Sarah” real creates conflict because Ally is unsure that Lisa is faithful to her. After all, they haven’t yet declared their love to each other and haven’t officially committed to this relationship – they consistently defend their dynamic as nothing more than friendship.
Sadly, for all their sophisticated sexplay, they are unable to discuss basic feelings together.
This causes further problems now that Lisa’s moved in – not just because she’s in Ally’s space, but they haven’t yet figured out where the boundaries between their so-called “friendship” and their BDSM relationship are. So there’s a certain amount of awkwardness in their interactions as they try to sort it out.
What’s great about this book is that Lisa goes through all the misunderstandings and miscommunications that come from assumptions; she basically gives us a play-by-play of how she and Ally had a meltdown and put their relationship at risk. It’s a fairly insightful look at the power of communication in relationships.
As per usual, this book is very dialogue-heavy, and Sejic continues to sort of sketch out those pages while spending a lot more time on the fantasy segments, putting in a way more detail and making gorgeous paintings of them. The rest is nice yet not fully realized, but at least he more than makes up for it later.
Again, ‘Sunstone’ is more of a slice of life than a plot-based book; it’s all character development. And although some things seemed familiar, just extensions of events from the previous volumes, Sejic expands the emotional content enough that it’s satisfying. It’s a rather mature graphic novel. And a sexy one as well.
I actually look forward to seeing how Ally and Lisa’s story will develop.