Dabney's Reviews > Teach Me

Teach Me by Cassandra Dean
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Mar 06, 2012

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When you sent  Dear Author  a teaser for your novel  Teach Me , you described it as an historical novel set in the early Victorian period. In describing the book, you wrote “romance will be the focus of the story with erotic elements. Sex and language will be hot, graphic and plentiful.” You weren’t joking about the sex. In fact, I wouldn’t describe your book as an historical romance; I’d call it erotica set in a very imaginary Victorian London.

Your heroine, Elizabeth, the Viscountess Rocksley, is at twenty-eight a very curious widow. She married young to a man she perhaps loved but never experienced passion with. (He was the stereotypical Victorian and would only make loved under the covers, clothed, quickly, and with no conversation.) The whole time Elizabeth was wed, she wondered if there wasn’t more pleasure to be had and, after her husband died and she finished her mourning period, she did have three discrete quickies at social events with a very nice rake whose hurried thrusting made her feel something stirring, although not quite thrilling. So, what does she do next? She asks around for the name of a brothel—this seemed ridiculous to me; a woman of her status could no more fish about for the name of a house of ill repute than discuss erotica at a dinner table (which Elizabeth does later in the book and doing so gets her in all sorts of trouble with her respectable social set). She contacts the madam of  La Belle Jeune Fille Pieuse  and requests an education in carnal pleasure. Elizabeth wishes to know sensual joy, to learn to give and receive it.

When Elizabeth goes to the bordello, she expects to encounter Mrs. Lydia Morcom, the madam. It’s never explained what sort of initial conversation Elizabeth had with Mrs. Morcom, but Elizabeth is expecting her training to be verbal and to be done by the madam. Instead, when she arrives for her first session, she’s met by an icy, gorgeous, arrogant peer, the utterly sexually depraved Earl of Malvern. Elizabeth, initially nonplused, quickly finds the idea of being educated by the Earl damn alluring. He tells her, after having her take off her cloak and checking out her body, that he is willing to teach her all she wants to know.

“I shall show you carnal pleasure, madam. As you say, both to receive and to give. However, pregnancy should be avoided at all costs.” His eyes flickered, the first sign of something resembling emotion crossing his face. “I will not marry you, no matter the circumstance.” Well, of course he wouldn’t. She wouldn’t wed him either. In any event, conception was not a concern for her, not after a marriage that had never yielded— Good Lord. He spoke of practical application. He spoke of touching and kissing and— Was it warmer in here of a sudden? He continued with barely a pause. “Actual penetration will be avoided. While many people extol the virtues of withdrawal, I remain unconvinced. We will discuss methods of contraception during your education, but the most effective method is always avoidance. You are in agreement?” Still confused but now with cheeks aflame, Elizabeth nodded. In all her life, no one had ever spoken so frankly. This, combined with his matter-of-fact manner and lack of emotion, banished any lingering apprehension and left only the excitement. Glorious, thrilling excitement.”

The two agree that Elizabeth will come to his townhouse—discretely of course—three days hence. Elizabeth leaves the brothel in a tizzy—she’s never been so turned on in her life—and James, the Earl, goes to ask Lydia, a woman he’s f**ked many a time, why she decided to offer him the “mousy” little widow. Lydia says she thought her present would appeal to his “degenerate soul” and that, since she’s just gifted him, she’d like him to gift her with the reward of his cock which he, without much interest, does.

Three days later, Elizabeth finds herself in the Earl’s home, where the two go over the basics of their arrangement. They will meet twice weekly at five in the evening—this hour is somehow more discrete than other times. The Earl asks Elizabeth to detail her sexual history. She, who has never talked about sex with anyone, is unable to answer. So, because Elizabeth isn’t really mousy at all, she asks him instead to tell her his sexual history.

click here to read the rest of the review at Dear Author.

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