Double life stories are a lot of fun, especially when the seemingly proper woman is actually a madame. Pimpin’…literally.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
A well-known madame falls in love with a patron knowing that her occupation means she has not future with him. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.
Screwing Society (Not Literally)
Ruby, aka Emma to her family, was born to her father’s mistress and later used by another lord who had no intention of marrying her. She understands abandonment. Her profession as madame has helped her to find who she is and has allowed her to help others with her matchmaking skills. She is an independent woman who finds and shapes her identity in a scandalous profession.
Captain Derek Price wants Ruby, but he’s promised to another to make his family happy and his father proud. His character was more difficult to really get a feel for. I liked him. He wasn’t super alpha nor was he a complete douche. But at times he was described as open-minded, yet he often adhered way too strongly to tradition.
Sex to Romance Ratio
Romantic erotica sometimes struggles with the plot/sex balance. There was definitely way more sex in this book, a continual chain of encounters between Ruby and Derek. However, it wasn’t repetitive. The characters engage in roleplay, which I thought was interesting and not something that’s common in the books I’ve read. The angst develops slowly through these scenes, and the plot upped a notch at the end when it was most effective, so even though the erotica definitely featured strongly, the story was well paced.
That Was Too Easy
There was a minor subplot that involved a patron threatening Ruby and inferring he could ruin her business. I felt that there should have been more to this than what there was. I think it was meant to be a way for Ruby to claim her identity and her strength, but I wanted there to be more conflict and less of an anticlimactic resolution.
The Romance Factor
At the time we come into their story, Ruby and Derek already been together once, and as the details are revealed, you find that he’s the only patron she’s ever been with and the only one who she’s ever shown her true identity. The insta-love thing is nicely avoided, and the relationships still feels like a good, slow burn. 4/5
The Steam Factor
The sex scenes escalate and are frequent and detailed, so break out a fan. They also involve taboos and things not found in all romance or erotic novels (think certain acts that tend to be a little uncomfortable without proper preparation). There are references to Derek’s sexual past that one doesn’t often find in hetero romance, but the subject was handled well. In both cases, as well as with the roleplay and the sexy times in general, sex was almost always presented positively. 5/5
This book was a quick read but a highly enjoyable one that had just the right amount of angst and emotion, as well as a few fun twists that kept it from falling into a plot rut. This can be read as a standalone but is part of Lavinia Kent’s Bound and Determined series, which I am now intrigued by and would like to read more of.