Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Improper Relations by Juliana Ross
From the blurb:
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?
This was rather disappointing, primarily because the plot felt rushed in this novella length book, and there was too much focus on sex for such a short story.
The book takes place in England in the mid-1800s. Hannah is the poor, widowed relation and living with her late husband's aunt, for whom she is a companion/assistant/servant. One afternoon in the library, she observes Leo, the black sheep son, having a bit of fun with one of the housemaids.
Hannah is even more shocked when Leo tells her that women can feel passion too, and offers to 'tutor' her.
From there, it became to unbelievable for my liking. The dialogue is stilted and oftentimes feels too clinical, and the actions of the MCs don't really make sense in the setting of this book.
I had a hard time believing that the heroine would risk her position and her reputation by allowing Leo to take such liberties, nor was I convinced that this heretofore proper young widow would so openly discuss sex with a man of a higher station, no matter how curious she might be and how unfilled her marriage bed was.
The introduction of drama towards the end is also rather predictable and a bit contrived, as is the hero's confession to Hannah at the end. It's unrealistic for them to have their cake and eat it too.
The author did a good job of using historical terms accurate for that time period. Also, the characterizations, including that of the supporting characters, were mostly believable.
The sexual situations were sensual, yet also a bit cold because of the 'tutoring' setting in which they were delivered. Leo didn't seem to be driven by passion for Hannah, and I felt that his actions were due to feeling superior to the poor girl and her ignorance of all things sexual. There didn't seem to be a real emotional connection from his end, which made the ending even more unrealistic.
Meh. This had much potential that was unfortunately not realized.
I received a free ARC from the publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return.
Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment with your thoughts.
Until next time,