**This review contains strong sexual content**
Sylvia Day has said that the characters in this book helped inspire her to write Bared to You. So I thought the books might have a similar feel. They don't. Both are very sexual, to be sure, but beyond that I didn't feel anything in this book that reminded me of that one.
Lady Jessica is a paragon of propriety. She didn't have much choice. Her father beat it into her at a young age. She married a good man, a kind man. But he died young, leaving her a widow at 25. She mourns him, but she comes to learn that he was not the love of the her life. It's actually the rakish Alistair who changes her life forever.
Before she ever married, Jessica witnessed Alistair in the middle of a tryst with a married woman. She couldn't stop herself from watching and during the act, he caught her eye. The event never left either of them. In fact, once Alistair learns of a trip Jess plans after her husband's death, he makes sure to be aboard that ship. He plans to seduce her and he wastes no time getting started.
I couldn't really get in to the book at the beginning. Maybe it's all time it takes to get the relationship set up. Perhaps it is simply that Jessica falls for Alistair's charms too quickly and too easily once they are thrown together. Maybe it was the sex.
I am down for some dirty loving. And I know Day can write some great sex. I've seen it in her other books. But I found the love scenes here to be over the top. Let me give you some examples. (These are not entire scenes, just snippets.)
Jess sucked in a sharp breath, staring down at the magnificent penis thrusting so hungrily toward her... ...Notching the thick crest into her tiny slit, he pushed through the token resistance of tightness caused by her year of abstinence... He bit back an animal sound of pleasure and fought the urge to fall upon her with a hard, deep thrust that pierced her to the womb.... That would be too quickly done, robbing her of the full awareness of his possession... It was a primitive act, one goaded by the feel of her greedy cunt pulling and sucking at the head of his cock, luring him to sink home...
His penis was a brutal instrument of pleasure... Like a liberally oiled apparatus, tireless, his hips smoothly pistoned, shafting her tender sex with his iron-hard cock.
"I can feel my semen in you. You’re soaked with it. But I have more to give you.... If only they could see you as I do,” he purred, “sprawled across a carriage squab with your skirts around your waist and your sweet, slick cunt drenched in my ejaculate and crammed full of my cock.”
I just couldn't quite connect with it. A guy telling you that he feels you soaked with his semen? Drenched in his ejaculate? Greedy cunt? Brutal instrument of pleasure? Is it just me??? --Moving on...
I did enjoy the book a bit more in the second half, once our hero and heroine actually have feelings for each other. And I really enjoyed the secondary story involving Jessica's sister, Hester. I thought the abuse angle was done well... as well as the aftermath of it for both Jess and Hester. I liked the loyalty and steadfastness between Jessica and Alistair. And I really appreciated that Day did not take the easy way out and rewrite history in the Epilogue for the HEA.
So this one was kind of a mixed bag for me.
Rating: C*ARC Provided by publisher via NetGalley