Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Mistress of Pleasure
Maybelle de Maitenon is the granddaughter of a famed courtesan, so she has learned to treasure passion, but scorn love as a sign of weakness. However, she is not completely comfortable with being ruined by association with her grandmother and she is mortified when her grandmother opens The School of Gallantry. The school is supposed to teach a select group of men how to seduce women and Maybelle wants to distance herself as much as possible from the school and move to Egypt to study ancient cultures. She wants to avoid marriage and keep her independence and one way to ensure this is to ruin herself by sleeping with a man and at a ball she finds the perfect man. Edmund Worthington, Duke of Rutherford, has a scandalous past of his own after his father killed himself while in the arms of his mistress, Edmund's fiance. He is drawn to the beautiful young seductress in the garden, but horrified when he discovers that she is actually a virgin and demands to know what she is up to. Maybelle suddenly finds herself caught up in circumstances beyond her control and discovers her actions have consequences she could never have expected.
Edmund's mother decides that Maybelle is the perfect match for her son and when her grandmother suffers a heart problem, she finds herself in charge of the school. To get closer to Maybelle, Edmund enrolls himself in the school and there are some quite shocking things happening there. He and his fellow students are treated to a spectacular show involving sex toys and courtesans and Edmund is very jealous that other men are even thinking of Maybelle in those terms. He knows that the ton would have a field day with their relationship, but suddenly all he can think about is Mayelle and making her his wife. But she is still convinced that love is an illusion and that a marriage between her and Edmund would result in resentment and being ostracized from the ton. When his repeated attempts to win Maybelle are scorned he decides to take the high road and allow Maybelle to be happy by letting her go. Maybelle needs to think long and hard about what she wants in life in order to make her toughest decision. She has one last chance to win Edmund and finally prove to herself, and to him, that she is ready to take the plunge and live Edmund if he takes a chance on her as well.
I read the School of Gallantry series, which was never completed, in reverse order, and I will start by saying that this first installment is much better than it's follow up and I am glad I took a chance and read it despite the failure of the last Marvelle book I read. While in the last book I never really understood the School of Gallantry, this book provided all the information I needed on it. While I still don't quite understand the necessity of the School because all the members apparently seem quite dark and mysterious and like they would already be good in bed, I found the idea of it quite interesting and I certainly enjoyed reading about the lessons that took place there. I also get the feeling I might have liked her other book in the series if I had read them in order and I do find myself wishing that Marvelle had been able to finish up the series. Maybelle was a confusing jumble and times because she was virginal and yet seemed to know everything about seduction and sex. She wanted independence and saw the only way to gain this through having sex, and yet she worried that her grandmother's school would bring scandal to her family name.
Edmund had the same incompatible set of beliefs; he didn't want to fall in love because of what happened to his father and yet he gave in to his mother so easily when she wanted him to marry Maybelle. Speaking of which, I could not really understand how a matron of the ton who had already survived so much scandal, would ever think it was a good idea for her son to marry the granddaughter of a courtesan. They did work really well together and I enjoyed reading about their relationship. It progressed rather quickly as they had quite the tryst in the very beginning, but I still felt like there was an adequate amount of time for them to get to know each other and they spend enough time together for them to fall in love. The sex between them was certainly HOT, and though the book was really short, I felt like there was plenty of it and that it was spread nicely throughout the book. The issues that were keeping them apart were understandable and I knew where they were both coming from, but I still felt like it went on a little long. I did like the ending because it was nice to see the woman chasing the man in a romance. I enjoyed Marvelle's writing style and the book was a really fast fun read.
Rating: A fun, enjoyable book with two interesting, if confused, characters and plenty of steamy sex, but some issues that weren't resolved quickly enough.