“You don’t ever have to be scared of me.” His deep voice was caught somewhere between sorrow and tenderness. “I’ll never, ever hurt you.”
I stumbled across this novella when I was on the Ellora’s Cave website, browsing through their Free Reads. The truth is that I wasn’t expecting much: I’d never heard of this author before and, not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but there must be some reason it’s free … right? However, the heroine appealed to me – shy, wallflower-type (I’m so predictable) – and I had nothing to lose, so I figured why not? Turns out, it was a good choice to make! Masks ended up being a surprisingly enjoyable and sizzling story.
Chloe and Zoe are twin sisters, but basically complete opposites. Though they’re identical twins, they show that it really is how you present and carry yourself that makes a difference. Zoe always attracts attention and is thought of as beautiful. She is a dominatrix, dresses in sexy outfits, wears makeup, likes nice things, is a great flirt, etc., while Chloe … is none of these things and is more comfortable fading into the background. She’s a first-grade teacher, wears simple clothing, always has her hair in a ponytail, and clams up every time she’s around the opposite sex.
When Zoe hurts her ankle, she begs Chloe to take her place and see the client she has scheduled for that evening. Zoe’s “cover job” is that of an investment banker, so Chloe is still reeling from learning that her sister is actually a dominatrix; she can’t even begin to process the idea of taking over her sister’s Mistress Sensua role for the night!
Before she knows it, Chloe finds herself outfitted in dominatrix gear ready to go and at her sister’s “workplace” waiting for the night’s client, Mark. The only words of wisdom her sister gives her before pushing her out the door are three rules: (1) stay in control of the encounter; (2) don’t have sex with the client; and (3) don’t take off the mask. Chloe is shy and has problems being forward or even flirting with guys – so how in hell is she going to pull off a dominatrix act?! … You’ll have to read the story to find out. 😉
Something I really appreciated was that throughout, Chloe remains Chloe: we’re not given Dr. Jekyll and Hyde, with the shy wallflower becoming a bombshell sexpot nympho just so the author can give us good sex scenes. The obligatory conflict at the end felt a little forced, but expectations determine enjoyment and I didn’t go into this thinking I would get a terrific and consistently realistic or logical plot. I also want to clarify that for those of you who aren’t interested in male sub stories, this isn’t one of them.
Masks is a short story even by novella standards (51pgs), yet it was still able to pack in everything I would want in a light but sexy erotica: a relatable and likable heroine, a seductive and more-than-he-seems hero, hot sex scenes, surprising humor, and a pretty believable attempt at showing us that the hero and heroine are compatible outside of the bedroom as well as in.
The erotica aspect provided great variety: a little bondage, some female-pleasure-focused love-making, and really spicy and explicit dirty talking (fan, please!). For serious BDSM fans, you probably won’t think this story qualifies; Mark ties Chloe up for a bit, but that’s it – basically just enough to add some nice spice for us more boring and usually vanilla readers.
On a purchasing note, this story is currently available for free on the Ellora’s Cave website. Most EC stories are (obviously) not free, so for those of you who enjoy them I suggest that you check their website first. I’ve learned to do that whenever I’m going to buy one of their eBooks, because their prices are almost always cheaper than the list price or those you’ll find anywhere else (Google eBooks, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, etc.).
One of My Favorite Quotes:
“You’re a dominatrix and you want me to switch with you to meet one of your clients?”
“Well, it’s hard to dominate anyone with a twisted ankle.” Zoe sounded grumpy. “I mean, how can I walk all over this guy with an ice pack on my leg? My stupid ankle is so swollen – it probably won’t even fit into my thigh-high boots, which was what I was planning on wearing.”
“Thigh-high boots? Walk all over him?” Chloe felt faint. Could her twin sister really be serious?
Masks by Evangeline Anderson
December 2005 by Ellora’s Cave
Contemporary Erotic Romance