Lord of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle
Lady Charlotte Chartwell has been in desperate straights since her husband was murdered by a jealous mistress nearly six months ago. In his will he made arrangements for his family and for his many mistresses but he removed his wife completely. While Charlotte's case is slowly working its way up the courts she needs money now to pay her lawyer's fees and the window tax. She propositions a man wandering through the park in the hopes that he will set her up as his mistress. When all he does is arouse her passions and drop her off at home Charlotte worries that she is completely ruined. Until the owner of the School of Gallantry makes her an offer: to use her house as a front for the school in exchange for quite a bit of money and Charlotte agrees. Alexander cannot get the woman from the carriage out of his head and when his friend Caldwell drags him to her front door on the way to a "sex" school he is shocked. Even more so when he discovers that Charlotte is the director of admissions and interviews him with some quite risque questions.
Charlotte does not want the complication that Alexander presents in her life, but she quickly gives in to her impulse for an evening of passion with him. Unfortunately Alexander is trying to set a good example and be respectable as he is attempting to launch five sisters into the marriage market and having a widowed mistress does not exactly fall in to this category. When Caldwell informs Alexander that he has gotten Alex's oldest sister Caroline, pregnant, Alex knows that he must try harder and breaks the news to Charlotte. In an attempt to convince him that she does not care she pretends that all she ever wanted was "a frig" and Alex is very hurt. Even though he has spent his life as "The Lord of Pleasure" with women throwing themselves at him for sex, he had hoped that Charlotte was different. When he realizes that in his hurt he has hurt Charlotte he sets out to prove to her that he loves her as much as she professes to love him. He has to enroll the help of several friends and acquaintances, and his family, but he knows that since he and Charlotte are destined for each other it will work out.
I enjoyed both of these characters, and a decent amount of time was given to telling the story from both points of view, but I would have required a more rapid switch between POV's. Sometimes Alex would tell his story for 40 pages and then Charlotte for another 40 while I would have preferred to know what each was thinking during a particular scene. Charlotte was interesting because she was a widow who had known pleasure despite being married to a man who did not love her. I loved that she was willing to do whatever was necessary to ensure she kept her family's house and wasn't a stickler for societies rules. Alex was a little more difficult to read and his reputation as "The Lord of Pleasure" seemed to come out of left field and was just thrown around randomly. At least his feelings for Charlotte are very real and written about in a very believable and fun to read way. Even for such a short book there were not very many steamy scenes but at least those that were there were quite hot and steamy. References were made in the school to more kink but it was never acted upon.
Certain scenes in this book run on for far too long with not all that much being accomplished such as nearly 20 pages of Alexander and his friend, Lord Caldwell, basically talking circles around each other about whether they should join the school. All in all far too much of the book takes place with Charlotte and Alexander not in each others' company and I would really have preferred for far more of it to take place with them together. The entire notion of the School of Gallantry seems a little ridiculous and in the scene where the Madame decides to talk about it to the pupils it just comes across as even more so as she blathers on and on about ... really nothing of any import. I am not sure what I was expected out of the school but there did not seem to be any instruction into actually pleasing a lady and it did not seem as if any of the members actually needed that instruction- even if it had been offered. I am also rather torn about Alex's family- at times they are funny and the certainly serve as a reasonable excuse for his attempts to not get too close to Charlotte, but they also can be very overwhelming and take up too much space in an already short book.
Rating: This book really comes down to so little time spent between Charlotte and Alexander and this made the book really drag on (quite a feat in a 324 page book). Also- so much of it just seemed ridiculous.