I don't read much erotica, and that's because of what I do read, I tend to hate about 90% of it. I'm usually pretty leery about selecting erotica titles from Netgalley, but in the case of LORD SAVAGE, I couldn't resist. How could I, with a tantalizing tagline like, "He's the one man in London who can't be tamed." Oh my.
The book is narrated (in first person) by Evelyn Hart (there's a typo in the summary--they call her "Evelyn Hard"). Evelyn is a wealthy widow from New York who has come to Edwardian-era England to mingle in polite society...except it's markedly less polite than she imagines. At her first ball, she sees a man fucking a woman from behind in the gardens below. And though it sort of offends her delicate sensibilities, she stands there and watches.
That man is, of course, Lord Savage. And the best way to describe him is to steal a line from Austin Powers: "Savage by name, Savage by reputation."
He takes an immediate liking to Evelyn and Lady Carleigh, the host of the ball, invites Evelyn to one of her "special gatherings" at her home in Wrenton Manor, of which Lord Savage is a regular attendee. So Evelyn goes, expecting...not what she gets, which is a weird, decadent, orgiastic party of Masque of the Red Death proportions.
Because Lord and Lady Carleigh and Lord Savage and all their friends are into BDSM. And at the party, they play what they call "the Game" where "Masters" take on an "Innocent", who they then instruct in all matters pertaining to the bedroom. And oh man, is it hot.
Like I said before, I don't read a lot of erotica. And when I do, I tend not to like it. So I write a negative review for it and people get mad at me. As if I'm supposed to rate everything positively just because I also happen to be an author and should harbor some sort of understanding for their toils. (Which I do, but I also don't think subpar authors should receive outstanding ratings. It trivializes the high ratings I give to books that actually deserve it. Books like...LORD SAVAGE!)
LORD SAVAGE is proof that an erotica can be sexy, and a man can be alpha, without any whisper of abuse. One of the reasons I hate FIFTY SHADES OF GREY and all its spawn is because they promote awful treatment of women that borders on abuse. The sex in LORD SAVAGE is entirely consensual. On the one instance where the MC is about to slut-shame, her host is quick to correct her, saying that exploring one's sensuality does not make one a slut. (I cheered, I admit it.)
There were some lines of dialogue that definitely mirrored dialogue from FSOG but then the story would veer in a different direction, giving me the impression that maybe Mia Gabriel read FSOG and didn't much care for it either. I got the impression that she was actually seeking to subvert some of the misconceptions about a BDSM relationship, and on that I think she succeeded admirably.
Things I liked:
-The dialogue between the characters is really witty. Reminded me a bit of Lisa Kleypas. Also, Gabriel writes some very wicked dirty talk.
-The sex. Obviously, this is an erotica, and the sex is important. She writes excellent sex scenes, involving, but not limited to, voyeurism, exhibitionism, role play, sex toys, oral, bondage, etc.
-The relationships between the women, particularly between Lady Carleigh and Evelyn, were very good. I liked how Lady Carleigh did not tolerate Savage's violent outbursts, even though they were friends, and how she expressed concern over the way that Lord Savage was treating her.
-The way BDSM was approached. I really liked the message that BDSM should be between two consenting adults, and that the two adults should stick to the rules that they set. I also like how the author pointed out that sometimes BDSM can veer into pain or abuse, and that if that happens the relationship should be terminated, as that is not what sex is all about. That's a great, healthy message.
-The book does not end with a wedding. That made me very happy. Too many erotica novels end up in marriage. Women should be able to enjoy a sexual relationship without having to tie the knot at the end of it. So that was totally refreshing.
-The main character is not a virgin. That was also refreshing.
So yeah, this was a really great book. I enjoyed it a lot, way more than I ever thought I could enjoy an erotica novel. The writing was great, the story was great, the sex was great...I NEED THE NEXT ONE NOW, OKAY?