Review: I came across this book as a recommendation on tumblr, about it being a historical romance that plays with not only different sexualities and bdsm, but also polyamory, and well, that certainly was up my alley so I had to get it and check it out.
The summary’s pretty straightforward, Anna hoping to learn to become a courtesan so she can earn enough money to eventually live the good life with her childhood friend and lover, Pia. She sets her eye on Sebastian to teach her the ways of sex. Of course, that’s just the beginning…
I’m normally not a huge fan of straight up romances, erotic or not, nor getting into the middle of series even though this is really a stand-alone (the other two books can be read on their own too, just set in the same world), and I wasn’t honestly expecting much when I started to read, even knowing it would have elements that I normally don’t see… Anywhere, really. But I somehow got into it, and then when the steamy parts started, and it started quickly, I got hooked.
The plot is pretty much laid out in the summary, bare bones with very little character development or story development. Within a chapter, we get these two together, falling for each other (at least sexually), and planning a marriage while we get a bit of backstory on Anna and her relationship with Pia. It’s pretty much point a to point b, and then a rushed point c subplot of introducing Sebastian’s former male lover.
There really was so much potential for this to being an engaging and angst filled and character building story with what we get in the summary, that could have easily made this story much longer and richer. The historical time period is just light set dressing, and near the end there’s an idea of some actual intrigue that gets quickly talked about and executed. While the characters themselves aren’t wooden or boring, as I did feel for Pia when she worried she lost Anna to a man for example, once again there could’ve been much more. Characters are presented and mostly told to us rather than shown, but they’re all unique in their ways.
Despite all that, it did excel in a lot of ways. We get Anna as a Domme, and Sebastian as an exquisite and eager sub. The BDSM used is a little varied, with some pain play and of course obedience, and orgasm control (both in the extreme of holding it and never-ending). For using wording of the time period and all, the scenes were definitely more erotic than some of the other books I’ve read and I very much enjoyed when the characters were having fun together. Another thing I liked was that it doesn’t go straight to penetrative sex with Anna and Sebastian and them enjoying themselves other ways while we get some lovely flashbacks to Anna and Pia learning how to love each other’s bodies in secret.
The polyamory relationship is pretty organic for the three of them and it’s sexy and sweet, and something I so rarely see that maybe I’m just a bit biased. I loved how Farleigh gets mixed in, and that was a mighty tease. I could have used more of him, and definitely more of him with Sebastian.
There were some wonderful quotes that spoke to me, about how one feels when they’re realizing they want more than a ‘vanilla relationship’ basically. That deep guilt because of society and that ache and worry that one will spend the rest of their lives either unhappy or alone. I really do feel like the author understands. It was refreshing to read the kind of relationship I’d want, one that’s loving and sexy and open and honest with more than just one person. And to be able to read that in a story, was a powerful thrill and blessing.
So, if you like a sexy and fun read with not the usual flavors of romance, this is a great read. A good introduction too, to this kind of world. And if you’re the type that needs a break from one on one relationships, aching for something more, something different, then yes, I wholeheartedly recommend.
Cover: The cover is gorgeous and sexy. The clothes seem to work for the period and well, who could complain about those abs? I also enjoy the font to the title. I think it’s interesting that a story mostly in Anna’s point of view and it being her journey, that we don’t see her or a mix of her and Sebastian (and Pia!), but I guess the publisher didn’t want to be too obvious and make it seem like a run of the mill erotic romance.
Check it out on GoodReads!