Good erotic historicals are illusive finds. Too often they’re bogged down in a non-stop sex-a-thon. Charlotte Featherstone’s novel however is anything...moreGood erotic historicals are illusive finds. Too often they’re bogged down in a non-stop sex-a-thon. Charlotte Featherstone’s novel however is anything but and there’s even a story! And it’s good! And I’m in shock because it’s an erotic historical 8-). After having bought “Addicted” I buried it waaay down Mt TBR wondering why in the world I picked it up to begin with given the nature of the story. Well good thing I did because it packed the kind of well-written emotional wallop that isn’t often found in books and especially in erotica. Mind you, this book isn’t exactly “erotica”, but it’s an extra spiced up version of a good historical that’s typical of Spice books. No raunch-o-rama just a good dose of borderline explicit sex that’s well-placed and not just chucked in pell mell here there and everywhere.
So, the story: it’s starts out with Lindsay who happens to be a serious opium addict and delves into his feelings for his best friend Anais. Both come from aristocratic families so certain things are expected of them. They’ve been friends since they were kids and over the years they’ve fallen in love but neither really wants to tell the other until “one fateful night” that sets the love story in motion. Anais has a nasty b—for a friend who throws their world into a squalid corner of hell and it’s the road out of this hell that the story is centered around. Before all that the reader is introduced to Lindsay as an opium smoker reveling in his addiction and it’s here that the author’s talent just shines.
My initial problem prior to reading this book was that the hero was a drug addict and for me a drug addict has no control so he couldn’t possibly be a strong alpha hero and I don’t like betas or namby pamby victim heroes for that matter. Soooo, I mistakenly thought that this book would be about the heroine having to save the wishy washy druggie hero. Well not quite. The author brilliantly describes how the hero becomes addicted by making the drug seem so enticing and inviting but all the while you think (like the hero) that it’s more of a recreational use than anything else. His drug addiction is woven into the love story and mirrors the different stages of the relationship, something that must be very very hard to do as an author because it’s like fitting the pieces of a jagged puzzle together to paint a clear picture that you’ll never actually see. This picture smacks you in the face though time and time again.
Now you might be thinking, I still don’t want to read a book about a drug addict, well the addiction is a backdrop for the most part and the rollercoaster ride of the relationship between the h/h is what’s at the forefront. Some horrible, horrible things happen to these two that will just stain your soul and leave you feeling OMG drained beyond belief because what you think will happen doesn’t and my hat’s off to the author for going against the grain here and not making everything picture perfect. It’s also a good lesson in the importance of communication because so many bad things can happen when no one says anything. What could’ve turned into the dreaded “big misunderstanding” morphs into something that just makes your skin crawl and it’s done surprisingly well. That’s not to say that there’s no HEA for those of you who freak out if the romance novel is HEA-less ;-) but not everything gets fixed up and prettied which is what makes it so emotionally challenging to get through. As Lindsay spirals into his addiction and desperately tries to get clean you just can’t help but scream out “why is the author doing this to him! Fix it dammit!” because that’s what authors are supposed to do in romance books right ;-) Very refreshing to get a different twist on that angle let me tell you. There are parts that will likely make you cry for their bittersweet beauty and others because they’re just so flippin’ heartbreaking. If you like Megan Hart’s contemporaries that suck the life right of you making you want to drown yourself in scads of Katie MacAlister/Sandra Hill/Julia Quinn-the-world-is-a-bright-and beautiful-place novels right after to find some “balance” again (lol!), then you’ll love Charlotte Featherstone’s historical version. You feel so spent when you’re done and every once in a while, I for one, need a good book like that.
The writing style is very good. It’s vivid (I can still “see” what happened), haunting and at times breathtakingly sensual. The steam scenes are well-done especially towards the end where you could nearly feel the sticky, sweaty humidity in the room as the two of them take a whirl at the horizontal mambo. The tragedies that happen to the h/h are disturbing and will bleed you dry emotionally leaving the reader completely exhausted –but in a good way :D
So why not 5 stars when everything seems really good? Well..... Is Lindsay more of an alpha than a beta? I don't know, it's hard to say --and that certainly speaks volumes. Was Anais an idiot? Yes, um wait, no. Are the secrets predictable? I don't know but I certainly went bug-eyed when they were revealed! It's the story as a whole that's well-told here making things that appear typical on the surface really quite difficult to categorize and treat as black and white ---oh those nasty shades of grey that make you pull out your hair and frustrate the reader (again in a good way--lol!) !!! 4.5 stars for me only because I still need my shot of the black and white take charge alpha hero somewhere in the end ;-) (less)
Why do erotic historicals more often than not have to be seeped in a dark and depressing misery? It seems to be that they all have something sordid ab...moreWhy do erotic historicals more often than not have to be seeped in a dark and depressing misery? It seems to be that they all have something sordid about them and this one is no different. What is different is that while the others have a non-stop sex-athon with various “what the ** ?!?” acrobatics and a modicum of story, this one stays stuck in the same place for over 300 pages. The plot just doesn’t move.
I had so much hope for this novel, thinking that I’d like it even better than Featherstone’s Addicted. Matthew, the Earl of Wallingford, is a jaded rake who cares for no one except himself, but he has a secret past that made him into the man he has become. Emotionally he's horefrost and your basic use-‘em-and-lose-‘em mean sobofabitch kinda guy towards women in general. That’s the teaser you pretty much get from “Addicted” making you itch to read his story in “Sinful”. The novel starts out well enough with Matthew meeting Jane the plain spinster heroine at the hospital where he ends up after being beaten. Unfortunately it started to nosedive from there on in with this left-field lust-fest between the two. There’s no tension building at all so you can’t really appreciate this “need” that the two have for each other. If the author had tried to pull it off as just a physical thing then I probably could’ve bought it, but because she was trying to aim for some emotional plane it wasn’t believable because they had only just met and barely spoke to each other. Sure she nursed him for a day or so but she was hardly being nurse-like what with wanting to check out and play with his weenie and all which of course didn’t match her proper character either.
As the pages go by you realize that nothing is happening and everything is just being repeated. He’s a jaded rake, he wants her, she’s a spinster, she wants him, he is bad, she is good, it's intense (!), fondle here, fondle there, he tells her to get away because he is so bad, she tells him he is a good soul deep down, cue fondle/intense moment. That’s it. Nothing else happens. They’re stuck, so for me this book needed some major editing. There are some parts that are sad, like when he sees Jane for the first time or when he talks about his life, there are also a few OMG surprises but all this isn’t sustained and it’s gets to be a case of too little too late.
I was surprised with how the author handled the end and even without an epilogue I thought it was fine. Frankly the epilogue (which you have to read on the author’s website because there was no more room to stick it in the book apparently) killed the book even more for me because everything was peachy pretty and la-di-da nice –you could practically see the lovely butterflies flitting about –gag, gag, gag! Sure you want the HEA but there’s no need to go overboard already. It was like the author was saying “yes it was such a depressing read I know so here’s the sweetest sugar and stickiest syrup to make up for it —dig in!” The writing style didn’t seem to match the book and it felt forced or shoved onto the reader, it was also too long with more of that sex for sex.
Featherstone paints a good picture but the problem here was the lack of development in story and the repetition. It was as if she didn’t know what to do with the characters apart from saying how miserably depressed (and depressing) they were, how sexually proficient he was but she wasn’t and how not so attractive she was. Yeah, and? Usually the author makes the heroine attractive somehow even if she is plain but Jane seemed like a scarecrow to me from start to finish. Some parts of the story didn’t make sense like Matthew’s mentally handicapped sister who a few years later seems "well-enough" to have someone court her. What the?!? Everybody had to get their HEA I guess. Also having the heroine call this bear of a man “Matty” in the throes of sex just didn’t work for me. Sounded like what you’d call a child. The only thing sexy about Matthew was the artist’s depiction of him on the cover (the book gets a 5 star keeper shelf spot for that alone :D ) . He does nothing in life, doesn’t want any kind of power and is a borderline loser. The author could’ve played up his painting side a bit more to give him some kind of grounding. There’s nothing appealing about him especially since he’s just like a grey cloud over everything. The sexy alpha Earl of Wallingford from “Addicted” just never cut it in his own story.
The first hundred pages are just almost-sex without story, the next two hundred are a repetition of the first one hundred with more focus on the misery that’s also repeated 12 000 times. The characters are intriguing, even the secondary ones, but some of the things they do/say are outright stupid and there are just too many extremes all the time making the reader roll their eyes at the absurdity of the situation. 2.5 stars is about the best I can give this read. On to the keeper shelf it goes though right beside Dawn Thompson’s Lord of the Deep–another dud of a read but a mighty fine piece of exceptional eye candy nonetheless ;p (less)
I’d give this book about a 3-3.5 because the story doesn’t connect well-enough for a 4, there’s too much sex without advancing the plot but it’s still...moreI’d give this book about a 3-3.5 because the story doesn’t connect well-enough for a 4, there’s too much sex without advancing the plot but it’s still generally well-written in terms of style for something that’s told in pieces or snippets. Like many erotic historicals there is a borderline creepy dark undertone for some reason and this is consistent throughout the book. There’s a minor sub-story that felt more like filler when the h/h weren’t having sex but I guess the author has to fill the pages with something.
Valentin Sokorovsky, a former sex slave in Turkey, needs sex to be able to get through the day. He’s very forward and not the most likable of people I thought because of his “frank” speech we’ll say. Sara Harrison, the daughter of the man who rescued Valentin from slavery, finds herself attracted to him even though she doesn’t want to be. She’s a true nympho though underneath it all. Valentin is engaged to her sister as a kind of payment to her father but the sister is scared witless of him so Sara agrees to take her place as his wife. Valentin is intrigued and the very upright/uptight Sara decides to let loose and go on an adventure of sexual awakening with Valentin as her very willing teacher. At the basis the story is pretty good but there’s too much sex and not enough emotional development between the characters. You really have to be in the mood for reading lots of sex to enjoy this read I think because that’s essentially what’ll you’ll be getting.
The story is told in an odd way that doesn’t really flow or connect like a regular novel. Almost like a kind of day in the life but on a regular basis. This isn’t necessarily bad or good just different. What’s missing is the emotion. Valentin is too remote and hides too much of himself so his eventual and inevitable proclamation of love just didn’t cut it for me. It was hard to get to know him. Sure you knew of his excesses and what he liked sexually but he ignored Sara a lot and the author kept having him excuse this with what happened to him in the past that I just couldn’t buy. As for Sara, she has moments where she tries to please a little too much and also where she tries to come into her own so her character was better developed. The two of them together though was neither here nor there. I didn’t feel the great love story that the author wanted you to believe in.
As for the steam, there’s lots of it and early on. The series is called House of Pleasure and there is a said house where lots of fantasies can take place. I’ve read better but it was alright.
It’s very hard to come by good erotic historicals, ones that mix a hearty dose of sex with a solid plot that moves along making you wish that the end never comes. I wanted this book to end because you could see that the story wasn’t really going to go anywhere apart from the couple just having more and more sex.
So the writing style is good if only the author had developed her characters more instead of overly playing up the sex part –a common “problem” in erotic historicals unfortunately. But then again, I don’t think it was entitled “Simply Sexual” for nothing. (less)
Not at all what I was expecting or anticipating and that can sometimes be a good thing, but not this time. McCarty set this story up really well at th...moreNot at all what I was expecting or anticipating and that can sometimes be a good thing, but not this time. McCarty set this story up really well at the end of Sam’s Creed and had me itching to get my hands on it. Well I was sorely disappointed because I didn’t like Tucker and I didn’t like the BDSM side of the story because it didn’t seem to have its place.
The story starts out with Tucker, who’ part Indian, wishing he could be with the widow Shermerhorn who’s a Quaker. He protects her and admires her from afar. The Widow is also an “admirer” of Tucker’s. They get together right from the start of the book practically in a moment of passion. Sounds all good but I think you have to like reading BDSM stories to like how the relationship between the h/h here pans out.
I don’t like a hero whose first thing is to shove his thingy in the heroine’s mouth the first time they’re going at it before doing anything else really. He’s supposed to want her badly and that just didn’t seem like the best way to show that. He came across as selfish and very domineering –not that she was complaining or anything however she was very passive and accepting of just about everything. For a woman who’s led a very proper life and has had pretty much vanilla sex throughout her marriage this jumping in with both feet at the first encounter seemed unlikely and unbelievable. Later some sex toys are introduced with a lot of anal sex and then I gave up. I didn’t feel the intimacy or the emotion really between these two. Tucker was The Boss and Sally Mae just took it all sometimes apprehensively too. Now hey maybe she liked to be dominated but I just didn’t get that feeling in the book. It felt like he was convincing her too much to do what he wanted.
Sally Mae is also a weird bird. She’s a pacifist in love with a Ranger and she’s constantly lecturing him about how she doesn’t like what he does because it involves violence –he kills outlaws. She’s extremely naive and has some major TSTL moments that make you want to whack her one. There are some points where she’s being threatened and smacked around and she’s all with this forgiveness crap. Makes you want to scream “wake the hell up lady!”
I didn’t think this story was developed as well as her previous ones in the Hell’s 8 series. It didn’t really go anywhere, there was too much filler and there was sex for the sake of putting in some sex. McCarty can write some scorcher sex scenes like in her Promises series and nearly all those books had a very well-developed relationship btw the h/h so it all fit, it just didn’t cut it here. Her Quaker lingo didn’t seem very believable either compared to some other stories I’ve read with Quaker-speak. A few characters from the other books make an appearance. Caine was the worst. What a loser that guy is.
No heart wrenching tale here about forbidden love the way you’re led to believe. More like erotica without emotion which was too bad because McCarty can kill you at the end of a story with so much feeling that you’re ready to burst. Here’s hoping that Tracker and Shadow’s story is better. (less)
Wallbangers (**sigh sigh**). There are wallbangers that make you mad because the book is over and the ending isn’t quite what you expected. There are...moreWallbangers (**sigh sigh**). There are wallbangers that make you mad because the book is over and the ending isn’t quite what you expected. There are those that make you mad because they were eternal and you want to release your frustration at having finally made it through the endlessly long uphill climb, and there are wallbangers that get you so wound up emotionally that you’re crying buckets because it’s so sad. Then there are those wallbangers that you chuck so hard at the wall you keep doing it again and again leaving pockmarks and dents all over as the pages go flying out –and you’re still beyond livid at the dumb-ass book (!). That’s this book and I haven’t read one of those in, gee whiz, a mighty long time. This book was excellent up to the end, but then the author did this flippin’ stupid out of nowhere switch that I was ready to spit nails when I read the last line. Rarely does a book rile me like this one did.
The story is about bad boy Nick and good girl Bess who meet over the summer and have some “fun in the sun” basically. The writing is excellent. Hart does an impressive job of showing the h/h as young and carefree summertime lovers in their early 20s and then as older people with the heroine in her late 30s. The chapters are subtitled “then” and “now” so that the reader knows what period they’re reading. Hart's beach scenes with laid back beach life are exceptionally well-done. You can nearly see and hear the waves rolling on the shore or get a feel for those lazy days spent doing nothing with friends and family on vacation. When she switches back to Bess as an adult you can feel how much more mature she’s become and the whole setting, even though in the same beachside town, has a nostalgic feel to it. The steam is very spicy but not raunchy and not overdone. It blended well with the story. Hart gets the reader very emotionally involved with the characters so much so that you can sense an undertone of dread that you know is lurking in dark corner somewhere just biding it's time before it sucker punches you right in the face --hard.
So why is this book a cootie-shelfer? ************Spoilers Coming***********Well you can’t set up the reader in a real life situation only to have it veer into the paranormal at the end giving you a whiplash “what the…?!?” situation, that’s why! :-o The hero was actually real which made no sense at all (unless you believe in the living dead seeing as he died 15 years prior!). Apparently he was never "fully" dead but lived in a kind of limbo and Bess brought him back because she thought about him so strongly. The whole time you’re thinking that she’s imagining it all or she’s in the middle of a mental breakdown, either leading up to a very sad ending that could turn into a kind of Megan Hart style HEA because there’s a long lost guy friend back in the picture too. Well no. Nick goes back to drown himself for good this time and tries to take her with him. ID-I-O-TIC! Even more idiotic is that her kids have seen Nick and talked with him, he goes out (to some extent) and interacts with the young beach crowd as if he had never left. He could’ve re-drowned himself in her head and I’d have bought it as a sad love story of what could have been but the fact that it was supposed to be a real story just had me going all scrunch-faced "what kind of spastic book is this"?!! To top it all off Nick, as the hero, is supposed to be nice in the end, yeah, well, not quite. Nick is also a total ass towards the end when he starts kissing some other broad to prove a point that I really didn’t get. The last 20 pages or so and this book was just shot to hell.
This is not a romance novel nor is it a tragic love story. It’s a story about a woman who comes to grips with her life by realizing that what she had in her early 20s was a summer romance and unfortunately the guy she was with died and she’s had a hard time getting over it. She married a moron who treated her like crap and now she has to pick up the pieces of her life and move on --ALONE. There is no great love story here. For me Spice made a huge mistake trying to pass it off as one. If the story were just sad that would’ve been fine, but by throwing in that really stupid back-from-the-dead bit suddenly at the end turned the book into a disaster. It’s one thing to fudge a bit on the book’s back blurb but it’s something completely different to pass off a book for something that it isn’t: it’s not a contemporary erotic romance, it’s paranormal women's fiction. And oh yeah, it’s a wallbanger, one of the best around too :-/ (less)