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Lip Service

(Butterfield Institute)

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  465 ratings  ·  66 reviews
Lip Service is the seductive new novel that everyone is talking about. Crackling with eroticism and suspense, Lip Service probes the secret world of phone sex and one woman who becomes empowered by what she discovers there. Not since Erica Jong's Fear of Flying has a novel so masterfully examined the relationship between sexuality and identity.
On the surface, Julia Sterl
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 1st 2000 by Atria Books (first published January 1st 1999)
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3.51  · 
Rating details
 ·  465 ratings  ·  66 reviews

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Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
If you are trapped in a staid, sexless marriage, how do you cope? How do you adapt? What if you don't realize how staid and sexless it is until your eyes are opened by fate's whimsy?

Julia Sterling has a fairly content marriage to her psychiatrist husband Paul. She is stepmother to his college freshman son, hostess at his fundraising parties, and provides him with the comfort he needs ... outside of the bedroom. They rarely, if ever, have sex, something Paul does not appear to miss (he takes that
Jennifer C.
Sep 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
I received this book from the publisher for review.

I really enjoyed this book.

Julia grew up with a father who was a therapist so she was always analyzed. When she struck out on her own in college she realized that she didn't really know who she was and that all of the decisions she had made up to that point were made to make her parents happy. She became sexually promiscuous and finally had a mental breakdown and ended up back home.

There, she met Paul at a party at her parent's house. He was a
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Julia Sterling is the wife of Dr. Paul Sterling. Her husband is a psychiatrist. When Julia met Paul, she was seeing a psychiatrist. So when during the beginning of their marriage when Paul would treat Julia more like one of his patients then his wife, this would explain why Julia dealt with it. As the years passed however, Julia wanted Paul to see her more as his wife and not as his patient. This included being sexual in the bedroom. They have no relationship. Paul does not even want to touch Ju ...more
Apr 11, 2010 rated it really liked it

I knew the moment I saw this on the shelf years ago I just had to have this book and even after I discovered it was pretty sexually explicit (something I wasn't used to at the time) I didn't care. I kept reading because it felt so full of identity, hurt, truth and honesty...

Julia is an unhappily married woman and the last woman in the world I ever expected to relate to or feel so bad for. When I first read it broke my heart and it still does...the way her parents and husband treat her
Nancy Brady
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-book
A deteriorating marriage to a man (Paul) who wants only a wife to look good, Julia takes on a job as a phone sex operator to research a book about treating men with sexual issues. Ostensibly the place she works for Sam Butterfield of the Butterfield Institute, a psychological therapy/research facility, but her good friend Jack thinks differently.

Taking on the persona of "Alice", this job changes Julia's attitudes toward herself, her husband, her friends, but at what cost? If she opens up about w
Alessandra Torre
an interesting look at the phone sex business. This book is heavy into psychology and the struggle of a married woman realizing that her life is not as she wants it, and her sexual rebirth.

I felt this book was trying to hard to be a feminist statement, about how she could be sexual and independent without leaning on a man, but did the opposite in its delivery. It reads as a dated novel (it should, it was first pubbed in '99) and I couldn't help but read the scenes and think of my mother. Which,
Sara Serna
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own
It looks like psychological erotica, or whatever you'd like to call this, is a good genre for me. The book was well-paced, solid on details and imagery, and unique in concept. I enjoyed reading about Julia's gradual transformation from obedient and hollow wife to someone more certain about her own sexuality and individuality. The symbolism present throughout this tale rang true for me and I enjoyed the tiny details that served as windows into the reality of the Sterlings' marriage. I'd be curiou ...more
Apr 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: suspense, erotic
Something off the beaten path for me. I've had her "Butterfield Institute" trilogy for years, waiting to be read. Found this awhile back. Umm, there was some uplifting dialogue (3.5 stars), that takes place in Ms. Rose's debut.
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Though equipped with erotic moments, the book truly centered around a theme of self-discovery and it captured the anxiety and delight one feels when stepping out of a box.
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Julia Stirling has been content in her life until recently. Married to Paul, a psychiatrist turned professional fund-raiser, she has willingly assisted him in his efforts to promote his charity for Fathers In Trouble as a charming, if shy hostess. As a student Julia had a nervous break-down after a period during which she indulged in various and short-lived sexual encounters. Marrying the cool and emotionally detached Paul and allowing him to make her decisions for her while keeping her on medic ...more
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-read
GoodReads Synopsis: Lip Service probes the secret world of phone sex and one woman who becomes empowered by what she discovers there. Not since Erica Jong's Fear of Flying has a novel so masterfully examined the relationship between sexuality and identity.

On the surface, Julia Sterling's life seems blessed. Married to a renowned psychiatrist, living on Manhattan's tony Upper East Side, Julia deeply loves her stepson, and is forging a career as a journalist.

When a writing job at The Butterfield I
Aug 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, for-review
Julia Sterling is the ever faithful, devoted wife to a very strong-minded psychiatrist. Being the daughter of a psychiatrist, Julia felt she had taken the safe road in her marriage.

But when Sam Butterfield comes along and peaks her interest in suggesting she write a novel about his business and what services they offer, Julia starts to question if forever being in her husband's shadow is what she really wants or needs out of life.

I enjoyed reading this story, however, I found myself frustrated
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
M. J. Rose’s Lip Service is the thinking woman’s erotica. This isn’t raunchy nonsense pinned together with a few weak plot points and vapid characters — a limp excuse for pornography masquerading as literature. No. I’ll be the first to admit I know little about this genre, but Lip Service worked for me as a mild thriller with some naughtiness.

Julia is interesting. We learn she had some sort of breakdown in college, an event that led to her “romance” with Paul . . . which is really no romance at
Aug 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
I would start by saying I really enjoyed this book. I would follow that up by saying I don't think erotica is the right category for this book. The book was originally published over a decade ago, and times have changed as far as what people are willing to write and talk about. This book is a great story of self-discovery and, in a way, coming-of-age.

At college in her late teens, when Julia Sterling should have been working to discover who she was and what she wanted from life, she was instead
Andrea Guy
Oct 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've read M.J. Rose's Reincarnationist series, so when I was given the chance to read Lip Service, I jumped at it. This book is totally different from what fans of that series expect.

It deals with the phone sex industry and how Julia is drawn into it.

Most of M.J. Rose's books are thrillers or at least suspenseful. This book can only be described as psychological erotica.

The parts of the books when Julia is taking calls will leave you hot and bothered. M.J. Rose really knows how to write the stea
Sex sells. That's the angle book marketers are aiming for with the cherries on the cover, but Lip Service might be a double entendre. I found Julia Sterling's transformation from a confrontation-avoidant, taken-care-of upper class New York wife into a stronger, more assertive, and freer spirit to be the more compelling story. Having had a nervous breakdown in college, Julia married Paul, a psychiatrist and her father's junior colleague. Their relationship reminds me of "The Yellow Wallpaper" unt ...more
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a good all-around thriller/mystery type story. It wasn't a murder type story. It was just about a woman who lost her true self and hid behind her own masks. Married to a man who only cared about himself (he was a psychiatrist just like her father)and his image of who he wanted her to be: a maid and babysitter to his son and a representative to his own business needs and contacts. Then she's asked to write a book about one of her husbands charity donors sex institute. There she becomes i ...more
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Certain eastern cultures see sexuality not as a fall from grace but as a way to ascend to a state of grace, to a state of self-realization." ~ pg. 33

Lip Service is a sensual erotic book by international bestselling author M.J. Rose. Main character Julia Sterling is a married 38-year-old woman living in Manhattan, working as a journalist. To the public eye, she has a decent career and is loyal to her stepson, friends and husband of 14 years. Secretly, she is an accomplice to sexual refunctioning
♥ Amanda
Aug 28, 2012 rated it liked it
I received a copy of Lip Service courtesy of NetGalley.

Julia is the wife of Paul, a psychologist, that treats her more like a patient than his wife. Years before, when she left her carefully scheduled and sheltered routine for college, Julia had a bit too much fun and lost control of life, causing a nervous breakdown. That put her in therapy for 4 years, introducing her to Paul. Since becoming Paul's wife and stepmother to his son Max, Julia has been the perfect wife and mother, never acting out
Jun 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

*Lip Service *is the seductive new novel that everyone is talking about. Crackling with eroticism and suspense, *Lip Service* probes the secret world of phone sex and one woman who becomes empowered by what she discovers there. Not since Erica Jong's *Fear of Flying* has a novel so masterfully examined the relationship between sexuality and identity.

On the surface, Julia Sterling's life seems blessed. Married to a renowned psychiatrist, living on Manhattan's tony Upper East Side, Julia deeply

Oct 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Read my full review @

My opinion: First off, I need to disclose to the readers of this review that I am a huge M.J. Rose fan. She has shown herself to be a master at writing within a diverse number of genres with a smoothness YET grittiness that leaves readers holding their breaths. On that note, this one didn't quite do it for me. I could tell that this was a prequel to the Butterfield Institute series which currently has 3 books in it. I have read 2 of these books. Also, as
Aug 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I was expecting another Fifty Shades of Grey with this one but was really pleasantly surprised to have liked this story so much more. This is more about making a passive woman, who has lost a part of herself, stronger. Yes, there is a bit of explicit sexual situations but they are there for a purpose, not just to fill up space. There is a good story here.

Julia is married to a psychiatrist who treats her more like a patient rather than a wife. He keeps her medicated, tells her what to do and how
Babus Ahmed
May 11, 2014 rated it liked it
I have been an avid reader of MJ Rose for many years now and usually find her crime/romance thrillers quite riveting if I'm being honest but this book about Julia Stirling, a woman married to a controlling psychotherapist and philanthropist, didn't grab me in the same way as her books usually do. In Lip Service we embark on a journey of self-awareness with Julia, which gets started when she agrees to work with Sam Butterfield of The Butterfield institute (Nina's estranged husband, for regular MJ ...more
Aug 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Review written for

This is a re-release of a book from 1999 and the first thing the reader will notice is some of the dated references (sitting next to JFK Jr., debating banning cigarette tv ads, etc). I found myself forcing myself to read this book and I think it has something to do with the time line. While 1999 was not all that long ago the era was so different. Phone sex was a huge thing before the internet and the references to some many now not so current subjects was
Redheaded Bookworm
Julia suffered a break down in college. She used sex and drugs to cover issues that she didn't want to face. Although, I'm not sure the book ever says what issues they were. Her father is a therapist and thought therapy was the best route for her. She met Paul, a student of her father's at a party and a relationship bloomed. Fast forward to her thirties. Julia is obviously unhappy and her relationship with Paul is non existent beyond her appearances at his work functions. It's at one of these fu ...more
Mar 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, ebooks

So a friend barrowed this book to me, and I admit I was hesitant to start it. However, once I started...I couldn't put it down.

Julia's (aka Alice) character really intrigued me, as she is stuck in this passionless marriage and she starts to discover who she really is and what she is capable of. Paul, her husband, infuriated me! How he tried treating her like a patient the entirety of their marriage, and never really accepted her for who she was, instead forcing her to act as the p
Aug 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
a very odd book, with not much growth for the characters. Julia turned to sex to help her thru a nervous breakdown in college (I wish we were told why she had one) and married a man to protect and coddle her. eventually, she tires of this and wants to be independent. however, once again she uses sex to help her by writing a book about sex workers , and in the process acts as one for a few weeks. towards the end of the book, she is relieved that her long time friend , Jack will help her with the ...more
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is not a bad book, but it's an old one and you can feel it in many things that are now different, like sex over the phone, that has been replaced by sex over the internet, which is more available and gratis. The characters were a little stereotyped in my opinion, specially Paul and his behavior towards his wife, that in some situation, and I'd agree with him, was really to stupid to live. Jack is a dream man come true and I'd have liked to see more of their relationship and I'm still thinki ...more
J. Hamlet
This novel has a lot of ambitions. It's a psychological and erotic thriller, in a way, but the thriller aspects take awhile to really take off. The plot is good, and a lot of the secondary cast are well-sketched with solid dialogue. Even the main character, Julia, has an interesting journey through psychological and sexual healing that's compelling and believable. The only problem is the one-dimensional character of Julia's husband, who looms large over the novel as a flat antagonist toward Juli ...more
Gippy Adams
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Erotica is not a subject in which I am interested, but having read M.J. Rose previously I decided to give it a go. Unlike one or two other author's books in the past that were labeled 'erotica' Lip Service is far superior with an intriguing storyline. Her writing is superb with much showing instead of just telling. I cannot say enough about her characters. Long after closing the book, they stayed in my mind. They are well-rounded, and I enjoyed getting to know them. Rose gets into our psyche wit ...more
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New York Times Bestseller, M.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother's favorite books before she was allowed. She believes mystery and magic are all around us but we are too often too busy to notice... books that exaggerate mystery and magic draw attention to it and re

Other books in the series

Butterfield Institute (3 books)
  • The Halo Effect (Butterfield Institute, #1)
  • The Delilah Complex (Butterfield Institute, #2)
  • The Venus Fix (Butterfield Institute, #3)
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