Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Friday, May 25, 2012

Kathleen's Historical Erotic Review: Improper Relations by Juliana Ross


By Juliana Ross

Dorset, 1858
When Hannah's caught watching her late husband's cousin debauch the maid in the library, she's mortified—but also intrigued. An unpaid companion to his aunt, she's used to being ignored.
The black sheep of the family, Leo has nothing but his good looks and noble birth to recommend him. Hannah ought to be appalled at what she's witnessed, but there's something about Leo that draws her to him.
When Leo claims he can prove that women can feel desire as passionately as men, Hannah is incredulous. Her own experiences have been uninspiring. Yet she can't bring herself to refuse his audacious proposal when he offers to tutor her in the art of lovemaking. As the tantalizing, wicked lessons continue, she begins to fear she's losing not just her inhibitions, but her heart as well. The poorest of relations, she has nothing to offer Leo but herself. Will it be enough when their erotic education ends?
22,000 words

I have a confession to make. I fell in love with the cover of this novella. Then I read the blurb and knew I had to read the story. I wasn’t disappointed.

Debut author Juliana Ross is off to a great start in her career with a story that captivates from the first page and doesn’t let up until the last. Not a word is wasted in this erotic novella that reads like a full-fledged novel. Miss Ross tells a story like an artist paints—first with broad strokes and then with fine attention to detail.

Leo and Hannah seem to be complete opposites. He’s a wastrel. A handsome one, but nonetheless, a lazy, debauching-the-servants dissolute nephew of Hannah’s deceased husband, while she, older than Leo by five years, is a prim widow who has explored little in her mundane world other than books shelved in the library. It is this library, her sanctuary of sorts, where she peers down from the loft and spies Leo trysting with a maid in a most shocking manner. Hannah should be scandalized. She should run. But she cannot extract herself from the gripping scene before her.

After Leo finishes servicing the maid, he confronts eavesdropping Hannah and sets his sights on proving he can rouse something in her that she swears does not exist. Deciding there is nothing to lose, Hannah agrees to Leo’s scheme. Soon, she learns she was wrong in both her shallow self-assessment and in his capabilities. Very wrong.

At first, the two don’t appear to bring much to the table other than their carnal appetites—his sated with little thought given to consequence, hers stimulated by delightfully sinful treats never before tried. Soon, their passions move beyond the physical and they are transformed into self-empowered individuals ready to take a stand in life, for themselves and for one another.

Miss Ross’s obvious familiarity with British social history and her wonderful author’s voice give resonance to a smoldering yet tender tale that unfolds in a sensuous world filled with a blend of rich prose and just the right amount of erotic pleasure. One would think Leo would be an unlikeable hero, but I found him to be quite an enjoyable character. The only thing disappointing for me was the ending. It came too soon.
Enjoy a good read by a debut author with a great future ahead of her. 

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