The premise for Black Velvet is intriguing – shy librarian Amalie Dove writes erotica under the assumed name of Madame X. When the publisher wants a picture to accompany her book, she uses that of blonde-bombshell friend (and actress) Lacey. When the publisher wants to send Madame X on a book tour, what are two friends to do except have Amalie pose as Madame X’s assistant and have Lacey act the part? Enter Thomas Jericho, a cynical reporter who would like nothing more than turn this ho-hum feature story into an expose. He smells something fishy; he’ll try to uncover the truth about Madame X – if he gets to share some body heat with the pixyish gamine assistant, who’s going to get hurt?
There’s more to Amalie’s wanting to keep Madame X’s identity from the public than shyness, although both friend Lacey and hunk Jericho believe that Amalie is not as demure as she seems. She’s sublimated her passions for years – her journal and her Madame X stories are her only outlet for an intense build-up of sexuality. As for Jericho, behind his cynical veneer lies the heart of a young boy yearning for respect and love. As he covers the book tour, he and Amalie share barbs, and when they’re not sparring, they are burning for each other. When the sparks finally flame, watch out!
The sexual intensity of this book is red hot, and the lead characters themselves are likable, once you get to know them. Unfortunately, it is their histories which seem rather unbelievable, especially Jericho’s. Granted, the short form of the series romance does not allow for much character development in terms of background, but his relationship with his mother and step-father, especially his step-father, seemed very stereotypical.
There were two main secondary characters involved in Black Velvet; each could have been better drawn. Lacey was so over-the-top when acting the part of Madame X that she became annoying. And Jericho’s boss Harry, with his marital problems and ex-wife who just so happened to be Madame X’s editor, fit too perfectly into the scheme of things.
And, the sexuality of the book itself was at times a problem. If you are looking for a book simply to turn you on, this will do the trick. But personally, I felt manipulated, and had the sense that this book could have easily been marketed as erotica, much as Madame X’s books were. While I didn’t get the impression that the plot was there simply to get readers from love scene to love scene, if the love scenes and book excerpts were removed, there wouldn’t be a lot left.