My Lady’s Pleasure
by Olivia Quincy
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: NAL Trade
Available: July 6, 2010
Genre: Historical Romance
Book received from: Penguin
Lady Georgiana Vernon, daughter of the Earl of Eastley, and Jeremy Staunton, youngest son of a viscount, have an unconventional relationship-at least for the upper crust in 1895. They meet publicly as friends, and privately as lovers. It’s an arrangement that allows Georgiana the sexual freedom she desires-and continues to indulge in-as a guest at Penfield, where the most sought-after names in the country gather for Lord Laughlin’s annual masquerade ball.
Then Georgiana initiates a torrid affair with the sexy landscape architect working at Penfield. She sees it as nothing more than a harmless but pleasurable indulgence. But when the relationship is discovered she becomes the target of increasingly malicious threats. During the night of the masquerade ball, these intimidations will come to a dangerous head, as the men in Georgiana’s life reveal their own secret desires.
It was a time period when a woman did not dare reveal her own ankle in public much less reveal insatiable desires. Any public display of sexuality was considered scandalous and could easily ruin a woman’s reputation. In this world, Lady Georgiana Vernon was a bit of a round peg in a square hole. (And for the record, there are numerous pegs in this story looking for a hole!)
Georgiana is an independent, unconventional and passionate woman. While she presents herself as the proper, upstanding daughter of an Earl by day, at night, however, she is unabashed in exploring her sexual desires. Her exploration starts with her childhood friend, Jeremy Staunton, who certainly enjoys their rendezvous, but may have deeper feelings for Georgiana. Away from home (and Jeremy), Georgiana spends a week at Lord and Lady Loughlin’s estate, Penfield, for the annual masquerade ball. Though she does not seek out other men, she does not resist her instant attraction to Lord Loughlin’s gardener, Bruce, once she arrives at Penfield. While Georgiana and Bruce are having their trysts, Bruce is also having his way with Maureen, one of the maids at Penfield. Lord Loughlin has a secret sexual fetish of his own that his wife is unaware of but is revealed and a shocking result takes place from it. Then, there is prim and proper Alexandra Niven who has two suitors biding for her affections: Freddy, Lord and Lady Loughlin’s son, and prominent businessman Alphonse Gerard (Gerry). While wooing Alexandra, Freddy is bedding the milkmaid and Gerry jumps in the sack with the chambermaid.
Now while this initially may sound like a big orgy, it was not. This was definitely a story focused on social status and society’s outlook on gender roles of the Victorian Era in which women of society were judged by appearance (Georgiana dared to wear trousers in a tennis match) and with whom they appeared (Georgiana and Bruce the gardener). Georgiana made it clear that she resented the freedoms men had with regard to sexual expression. What she did not consider was how her actions could affect others. As the reader, you are pulling for Georgiana and her quest for individuality and freedom of expression, but you are also cringing when she does not see the full picture of how her actions can gravely affect her overall future as well as the individuals who are important to her.
My Lady’s Pleasure did not blow me away, but it definitely made me ponder if and how a lady of high society in that era could be sexually expressive and not be viewed as a harlot. The book was well categorized as historical erotica and you definitely got your fill of sex (a dom/sub moment, a light ménage moment and a rare erotic toys in the wine cellar). However, it was sensually written in a way that you did not feel that it dominated the books overall deeper view that people are not always what they appear on the surface. I will note that with all of the secondary characters Ms. Quincy includes, I was confused at times, referencing back to confirm who was sleeping with whom. Despite the characters and complexity of their “sexcapades”, Quincy’s overall fluid writing style aided in me not being frustrated by it throughout the book.
“She was distracted. She found this man profoundly alluring, and her mind was attempting to penetrate the fog of her physical attraction to him to try to decide what she wanted to do about it.”
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