Monday, May 26, 2008

Lessons of Desire by Madeline Hunter

Handsome, suave, and carnal as the devil, Lord Elliot Rothwell awaits readers in Lessons of Desire, bestselling author Madeline Hunter’s latest book in the Rothwell series and her most provocative novel to date. A man used to getting what he wants, Elliot is every woman’s most secret fantasy in the living flesh. He first appears beneath her prison window as her savior—a sinfully attractive man whose charm and connections have ensured her release from an unjust arrest. But author and publisher Phaedra Blair quickly learns that the price of her “freedom” is to be virtually bound to her irresistible rescuer. For Elliot Rothman didn’t come solely on a mission of goodwill. He came to extract a promise that Phaedra won’t publish a slanderous manuscript that could destroy his family’s name, and he’s not above bribery, threats, or bedding her to get his way. And with each erotic encounter raising the stakes between them, Elliot discovers he’s ever more reluctant to lose this sensual game…or the one woman who’s every bit his match.
One of the common things that you hear from romance fans is that we want to read something different. Having read this book, I think that maybe we THINK we want something different...but we really don't.

The thing is that this book does have different in spades - the heroine is an advocate of free love meaning that there is no simpering virgin here. Another example of different is that at least half of the book is set in Italy travelling from places like Naples, Pompeii and Positano.

So how did those differences work for me? The setting did work. I definitely found the setting fresh although the reasons for moving from Naples and from Positano were a bit contrived.

Having the heroine be Phaedra really didn't work for me though. First the heck do you pronounce that name. Phaedra Blair was basically shunned by society because she has chosen to live a very different lifestyle to most people in the ton. She is an advocate of free love, a woman who chooses to have 'friends' who are lovers, and very definitely does not believe in marriage. She also chooses to dress in a very strange way, avoiding current fashion. Every time she talked about free love I couldn't help but think of 1960's hippies which is a long way from the setting that we are given in the book.

Phaedra Blair goes to Italy to try and found out the truth about her mother's last days. Her mother was a very famous woman. She spent years with Phaedra's father without ever marrying him, but something happens in her last years of life that causes her downhill slide, and eventually her death. One of the clues that Phaedra has is a beautiful ancient cameo that supposedly came from Pompeii.

Elliot follows Phaedra to Italy because she holds the publishing rights to her father's memoirs, and inside those memoirs is an allegation made about his father that the Rothwells want to keep out of the public realm.

When they first meet Elliot has to rescue Phaedra from a situation where she has come to the attention of the local authorities. He has to rescue her again in another town when she is accused of witchcraft, and this time the rescue includes marriage vows, that both Elliot and Phaedra hope they will be able to get out of when they return back to England.

I felt like I was being bashed over the head repeatedly with the free love thing, and also with the possessiveness of Elliot - I can't remember how many times the word 'mine' was mentioned throughout this novel. He did temper this possessiveness many times, which means that he was a bearable character.

I guess that one thing that I have to confess is that when I read Rules of Seduction at the beginning of last year, I did wonder if our heroine, Phaedra, was destined to hook up with Christian, Lord Easterbrook. Instead, she ends up with his younger brother, Elliot. Lord Easterbrook's book is the one that I really, really want, but it seems as though it won't be out until next year some time!

I really loved Rules of Seduction. It was the first book I read last year, the first time I had read Madeline Hunter, and I was blown away. If this had of been the first book I read from this author, then I think it would have been fair to assume that I wouldn't have read more. As it is, I have read the excerpt for the next book in this series, Secrets of Surrender which came out a few days ago, and I am looking forward to reading it!

This book was one of the books that I nominated to read as part of the Romance Reading Challenge.


  1. I still haven't read anything by MH, if you can believe that. I have her By series in my TBR pile just waiting patiently for me to pick it up.

  2. hi, great review. the setting does sound different from the norm.

  3. I think that maybe we THINK we want something different...but we really don't.
    I think you're right about that. Lol. Especially for romance readers. I have both this one and Secret to Seduction still TBR--I will get to them one of these days.