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Trompe-l'oeil: Or, the Old In and Out. Of Love. [Kindle Edition]

Russell Bittner
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Caveat lector.

If you're looking for a quick fix, an easy source of titillation, TROMPE-l'OEIL is not for you. Following the erotic hook of Chapter One (1,200+ words), this novel requires almost sixty-five pages of character development. In other words, not for the weak an weary. 'Just warning.

If E. L. James (of FIFTY SHADES fame) was in any way a disappointment to you as a reader, TROMPE-l'OEIL may be a suitable antidote—maybe even an elixir. Its author, Russell Bittner, finished this book in 2004—years before the FIFTY SHADES trilogy was born. It's not the product of fan fiction or of any such collaborative effort; rather, it's the author’s own work—start to finish—conceived, developed and executed in his own Brooklyn, New York garden. As is every work of fiction, it's in part the product of his imagination, in part the product of his experience. The languages (with English translations), he feels, are integral to the story and are his own—the product of ten years’ study on the Continent. They're not meant to impress or annoy, but rather—he hopes—to enhance. And, he feels, they will bear up under the scrutiny of any native speaker.

DANEKA SØRENSEN is a Danish transplant to NYC, where she manages her life from an Upper East Side apartment building by night and from the top floor of a mid-town skyscraper by day—ostensibly, all under tight control. KIT ADDISON is a fashion photographer with a sideline penchant for flora and poetry who lives on the Lower East Side. The distance between them, however, is about much more than a mere hundred city blocks.

The first sixty-five pages (other than the "erotic hook" of Chapter 1) are devoted to setting and character development. From that point on, all hell breaks loose.

That said, Russell has always believed that a woman’s most erogenous zone is between her ears. Whatever hell breaks should break only between each such pair of ears.

That’s as much as you need to know about the two principal characters and about the “nature” of this book. The rest will reveal—and unveil—itself in the eighty-two chapters of the story whose journey, incidentally, takes us from New York to Paris, to Lisbon and the coast of Portugal, to Rome and Positano, to Copenhagen and to Bornholm (an island in the Baltic Sea), then finally back to New York City.

The thirty-three reviews (as of today, September 11, 2013) should tell you the rest.

Caveat lector! This is not a story for lovers of the work of Jane Austen—except for what MIGHT have existed in that author’s imagination. Unfortunately for her, however, Jane Austen didn’t live in our more liberal times.

Editorial Reviews


Trompe l'Œil, by Russell Bittner, is a tantalizingly brilliant story about the human condition. Be ready for the rollercoaster read of your life!Read the book! It might just change your life.  
--Lucinda Kempe -- fiction writer at large

From the Author

Trompe-l'œil literally means 'deceiving the eye.'
     Adoptive New Yorker, Daneka Sørensen, appears to be a woman any man might want: attractive, imaginative, charming, wealthy and successful in almost every aspect of her life.
     It's no wonder that fashion photographer Kit Addison falls madly in love with her.
     After their third chance meeting, they hesitantly find each other, then impulsively run off together to tour the most romantic parts of Europe and of each other.
     And, to the delight of each, everything about the other is absolutely perfect -- everything, that is, except one thing.
     But that one thing is a hell of a kicker.
     Trompe-l'œil has been described as "the roller coaster of a lifetime" by one reviewer. It is.
     At the same time, it's a wrestling match between Thanatos and Eros -- the outcome of which isn't revealed until the final chapter.  That outcome is an epiphany to Kit, an epitaph to Daneka.
     Sic transit gloria mundi.
     At the end of the day, it's just another love story in the vein of Romeo and Juliet; Tristan and Isolde; Orpheus and Eurydice; Eloïse and Abélard; Pyramus and Thisbe.  The difference?  This one's very 21st century, and she's the older of the two.

Product Details

  • File Size: 859 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1478151056
  • Publisher: Amazon Kindle; 1 edition (January 4, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #674,959 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trompe l'oeil is the real thing. April 27, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Like the artist's illusion for which it was named, "Trompe l'oeil" fools the eye. You can read it, as I did at the start, as intense eroticism, a shock to the system. But unlike its namesake artform, "Trompe l'oeil" rips away its own photographic realism to reveal truth. Kit, a New York photographer, dives into lust with Daneka, a top magazine editor, and falls into an endless sea of obsession and indifference, rapture and rejection. As each layer of deception burns away, we discover the truth about Kit -- it is the man who is the romantic in this love story, the woman the unreachable lover. "Trompe l'oeil" is a harrowing journey, literally and metaphorically, by a powerful writer throwing caution to the winds. It satisfies, comprehensively.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Walk on the Wild Side March 12, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Bittner's prose shines in Trompe l'Oeil a story of love, need, addiction and darkness. With strong characters, erotic scenes and a deepening picture of damage that goes far beneath the surface and may be more than love can handle, or heal.

Daneka Sorensen is a Dane, living in New York City running a high powered publishing empire. Kit is an up and coming, though not yet arrived, photographer living in East Village. Their pairing is unusual, but Daneka finds herself madly attracted to him despite the difference in their financial and social standings. Kit, is fascinated by Daneka, with that fascination quickly turning into love touched with obsession. Even when Kit discovers the darker side of Daneka's nature moving on will prove difficult, if not impossible.

Together Kit and Daneka set off on a European tour ending in Denmark at Daneka's home and with visits to her mother. As they progress throughout Europe Daneka becomes moodier and more withdrawn. Kit desperately wants to understand the problem, but by the time they reach Denmark it dawns on him that even though he loves this woman, their relationship may not last much longer. Something is changing in Daneka, pulling her further and further away from him.

Trompe l'Oeil is a fascinating look into the darkness of a soul and whether it can be healed by love, while at the same time examining how much that love can take and how long it will hold on, despite mounting evidence that it isn't wanted. Is it really not desired or is the damage done to a soul so comprehensive that it is unable to take in even the sustenance it most desires. This is a question delved into by Bittner with his complex characters, erotic scenes and wonderful prose.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Trompe l'oeil, by Russell Bittner, is a tantalizingly brilliant story about the human condition. At the most elementary level, it's a tale of a man who falls in love with a woman who possesses a terrible secret. It's also a story about love's loss, obsession, addiction and disturbance manifested in erotic self-abuse and the inability of damaged people to love anyone or anything but sensation.

Be ready for the rollercoaster read of your life!

The book is, in turns: erotic, poetic, philosophical and literate--but ultimately, it's a simple tale about falling in love with someone who can't be reached. It reminded me of another book about the human condition and of a character I love and am still moved to tears by--`Joe Christmas' in William Faulkner's Light In August. Joe's a brutal man who commits a brutal act and is ultimately taken down by equally brutal men. Joe Christmas was a child damaged by neglect and the innocent circumstances of his half-breed birth in the white-dominated South. The beauty of the terrible tale is in Faulkner's description. Bittner has done ditto.

Daneka S'rensen, the principal female character in Trompe l'il, is also damaged at a young age (in part) by her father's suicide. What happened in her past dictates her future. An educated Managing Editor of a leading fashion magazine--as well as a "professional adventuress," she meets Kit Addison, a younger photographer, and takes him off on a whirlwind sexual trip to Europe where they figuratively eat each other alive. The trip ends--as does the affair--when she takes him to her childhood home on the Danish island of Bornholm to meet her mother. Once home, she reverts to who she really is--a damaged child very unlike the thriving Manhattanite she at first appears to be.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well written May 15, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I guess that somehow I wasn't quite aware that this was a very steamy love story by the review I read. None the less, I started reading it, not thinking that I would finish it. I'm not really into romances, especially very sexually explicit romances

But this book had me from the first (even though, I will admit, I did skip a few of the more um detailed stuff) and I really had a couple of rough days at work from lack of sleep.

The sexually explicit writing is not there gratuitously. It's truly part of the story and the story would not have been the same without it. This is a twist on a modern day Romeo & Juliet, with an equally tragic ending. If anyone has ever been through anything remotely close to what the female protagonist went through (unfortunately more common than people are comfortable thinking about), you will identify with her. Mr. Bittner nailed it.

Read this story with all of this in mind. Also know that the writer stayed true to his story and did not make a happy ending for his readers.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
Before I start my review I feel the urge to clarify that erotica is not my cup of tea. Nevertheless I decided to read TROMPE-l’OEIL for two reasons:
Reason #1: A copy of the... Read more
Published 23 days ago by kate papas
5.0 out of 5 stars Proving the strong positive correllation between hot and crazy
When I used to make a living translating Japanese porn, I always used to pick femdom stories to work on. Read more
Published 11 months ago by D.Z.C.
4.0 out of 5 stars Erotica for the thoughtful: the secret of a surprising novel
Daneka Sorensen, an attractive woman, and Kit Addison, the handsome younger man, will meet once in New York, and then again, and live what seems a great love story that ends only... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Diana F.
3.0 out of 5 stars Trompe....
This author has nice skills as a writer. The book starts off slow and all the intellectual words takes a readers mind away from the story at hand, which makes it a hard read. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mae B.
3.0 out of 5 stars not for the faint of heart
Ordinarily here I would copy in the book blurb, but in this case I find it very wordy, which is much like the rest of the book. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Awesome Indies Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Hot enough but it doesn't burn
Don't know how I got to read Bittner, but I certainly enjoyed his writing.
I couldn't stop reading. Quite interesting characters depicted, far from standard.
Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Bittner Gives Us Prose At Its Best
Russell Bittner has found a way to tell a story that is rife with snapshots of the human condition. It is poetic in its simplicity, erotic and at time a bit horrific. Read more
Published 20 months ago by im1rarebird
5.0 out of 5 stars The Prose Of Shakespere In A Modern Day Star Crossed Lovers Story
The first chapter opens in a whirl of prose and amazing writing abilities and ends with a bang in a seductive meeting of flesh on flesh in a nearby park From that point forward... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Rose Lynn
4.0 out of 5 stars Secrets cannot be hushed
This novel juxtaposes the light and darkness of human life. The light is the relationship between Kit, a photographer, and Daneka, a mysterious and gracile Danish woman. Read more
Published 20 months ago by James Goulding
5.0 out of 5 stars Tainted love
The male protagonist of "Trompe-l'oeil", Kit, is a glamorous photographer in the mould of David Hemming's character from "Blowup". Read more
Published 21 months ago by Jed Tales
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More About the Author

Writer's Bio

Russell currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.

Russell's prose publications have appeared over the years in journals/magazines at: The International Journal of Erotica; The Edgar Literary Magazine; Beyond Centauri; Snow Monkey; Swill Magazine; SEINundWERDEN; Skive Magazine; The Whortleberry Press; ABCTales; The Picayune Literary Magazine; Blue Crow Magazine; and Snow Monkey.

His prose as also appeared on-line at: 3AM; Pindeldyboz; Satin Slippers; DeadMule; Ink-Mag; GirlsWithInsurance; UndergroundVoices; HackWriters; BlueFood; ALongStoryShort; SouthernHum; DeadDrunkDublin; 10,000 Monkeys; Yankeepot-roast; SkiveMagazine; Quintessence; writeThis; SwillMag; SuffolkPunch; MannequinEnvy LauraHird; Per Contra; ThievesJargon; UndergroundVoices; SUSS: Another Literary Journal; Cezanne'sCarrot; Sliptongue; RedPeter; TheSquirrelCage; FarawayJournal; VerbSap; TheRose&Thorn; 3rdActs; CliteratureJournal; TheCerisePress; EclecticFlash; DonovanHall; Dogmatika; DanseMacabre; SuffolkPunch; Writers'BlocMag; and ISMsPress.

Russell's poetry publications have appeared in print journals/magazines at: The American Dissident; The Blind Man's Rainbow; The Lyric; The Barbaric Yawp; The International Journal of Erotica; Wicked Hollow; Æsthetica; The Raintown Review; CRITJournal; Tuesday, an Art Project; Grey Book Press; Inkspill Magazine; The Feline Muse; Sonnetto Poesia; Rattle; and Trinacria.

Other publications have appeared on-line at: EdificeWrecked; ken*again; SpillwayReview; Quintessence; Erotica-readers; Ink-mag; GirlsWithInsurance; Fireweed; ThievesJargon; MadHatter's Review; ALongStoryShort; LauraHird; SouthernHum; ZygoteInMyCoffee; OpiumMagazine; JustusRoux; PWReview; DifferentVoices; VoidMagazine; MindfireReview; Salome-Magazine; Plum Biscuit (a journal of the NYC Writers Coalition); 3AM; Dogmatika; ALittlePoetry; EvergreenReview; theBreath; Sliptongue; Chanterelle'sNotebook; AscentAspirations; TheLinnet'sWings; 3rdActs; DeadDrunkDublin; The CentrifugalEye; Dogzplot; TheNewFormalist; Per Contra: PartyOfTheFirstPart; DISPATCHLitareview; Litsnack; ClockwiseCat; TheFelineMuse; LucidRhythms; theHyperTexts; and at Elimae.

Over the course of four years (2/09 - 02/13), Russell conducted monthly interviews of notable Anglo-American poets at ("A Poet's Corner"). He is a former Philosophy major/Russian minor and was awarded a B.A. in 1984 from Columbia University in NYC. He acquired, over the course of a decade, additional certificates of study from, among others: L'Université de Fribourg (CH); Die Universität Wien (Vienna, A); and L'Università per Stranieri di Perugia (I).

His photography has also appeared both on-line and in various journals.

He can most easily be reached at

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EL James
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Apr 12, 2013 by R. Russell Bittner |  See all 3 posts
To promote (with a freebie) or not to promote: THAT is the question
Hi Russell!
I did the freebie KDP Select promo and 5-day give-away on two books. The downloads varied substantially for both. However, both books hit #1 bestseller status too.

Now, here's the thing... after that initial bump in rankings from free downloads came a whole slug of actual sales and... Read More
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