Thirty-something best-selling romance novelist Emily Shann hides a “terrible” secret – she’s a virgin. She’s been told by her publisher that she needs to write something hotter, something explicit, in order to renew her contract. She’s at a loss about what to write until it’s suggested to her that she needs some real-life experience.
Mick Devlin is Emily’s new editor and he’s just what she’s been looking for – he’s every woman’s fantasy. Emily sets out to seduce Devlin, but he ends up teaching her more about sex than she ever dreamt of.
What she learns from Devlin she writes into her book, The Defiant Duchess, and she does this with the help of something called “The Channel”. The Channel is a holodeck-type fantasy television channel where women can watch their fantasies play out in front of them; only Emily now realizes she’s not just watching the fantasies, she’s living them inside the channel. With the help of one of her more adventurous friends, Emily experiments within the channel and learns many things that Devlin didn’t teach her.
In the end, Emily’s experiences are put into the book, which is a huge success. She and Devlin find their happily ever after in the end, with predictable results.
If this book seems short on plot, that’s because it is. This is not so much Romantica as it is just plain Erotica.
I’ve always been quite fond of Bertrice Small, who wrote Romantica before there was even a word for it. She’s always pushed the sexual envelope with her stories, and this book is no exception, and not for the faint of heart or the easily offended – homosexual acts, orgies, anal sex, etc., it’s all covered. What I always loved most about her writing is the rollicking, over-the-top, lush, epic quality of the stories she tells. Her books are like Gone with the Wind…on crack. They’re fabulous romps and the sex is pretty wild, but behind it all there is a love story.
That’s not the case with Forbidden Pleasures; the love story is practically non-existent. This book was just thin – thin on plot, thin on fun; and physically thin, at only 250 pages. It reads more like a novella than anything else, which no doubt contributed to the lack of any real plot.
For readers looking for fabulous, classic, over-the-top Bertrice Small, check out All the Sweet Tomorrows or Hellion. Only die-hard fans should even think of it, although the sex scenes are better than most of the Romantica I’ve read lately. But the $14.00 price tag is far too steep for so little story.