Improper Series Bundle
Juliana Ross’s set of interconnected Victorian erotic stories starts out a bit shaky but gets better with each tale.
Hannah witnesses her late husband’s cousin Leo in an encounter with a maid and falls into sexual education with him. There are a lot of tropes here, from the ‘teach me’ to the ‘I must abandon him for his own good’ one, and the pacing is rushed.
Lady Alice, out to hike the High Route of the French/Swiss Alps, can’t resist an anonymous hookup with a sexy climber she sees on her first day. When he turns out to be the same E.P. Keating she’d hoped to hire as a guide, they agree to terms involving hiking only. Of course, they can’t keep their hands off each other. This story of how sports and leisure interconnect with a woman claiming control over her own life is perfectly representative of the Victorian era. I loved the setting, as the author develops everything from the food to the inns to the wardrobe alterations Lady Alice needs for climbing. The length of time these two spend together makes the relationship credible, although I did wonder at the amount of sex Lady Alice was up for after days of Alpine hiking! I also didn’t like her ‘I must be single to be free’ attitude as the device to keep them apart, since it was obviously going to end in ‘Oh, wait, never mind’. I’m on the border between A- and B+ for this one.
Newly widowed Caroline Boothroyd seeks out her husband’s best friend Thomas in the hopes that he will publish her housekeeping manual. Tom returns a counter-offer: the housekeeping market being rather limp, he will hire Caroline to write a guide to happiness in the marriage bed. Every time she returns to meet with him, they give in further to their attraction, carrying out a long-term affair. Thomas and Caroline are the most fleshed-out characters of the anthology, and I was delighted to read about a widow who loved her husband and had positive sexual experiences with him. I liked how the author attempts to capture Victorian-style prose in the excerpts from Caroline’s writing, and I liked Tom, who is blunt and occasionally abstracted, which makes him less of a common hero type. I wish the ending hadn’t been as predictably ‘heroine making a sacrifice’ but on the whole I really enjoyed watching these two fall in love over the course of their affair.
Despite being marketed as erotica, these stories are hot rather than burning. The author has a clear interest in the Victorian setting, which she richly develops in details ranging from clothing to plumbing to birth control. I believe that these stories are all available individually from Kindle, but since at least two of them are worth the price, I’d recommend buying the set.
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I'm a history geek and educator, and I've lived in five different countries in North America, Asia, and Europe. In addition to the usual subgenres, I'm partial to YA, Sci-fi/Fantasy, and graphic novels. I love to cook.