Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Decadence, #1
Publisher: Crooked Sixpence Press
Hero: Edward Fanshawe
Date of Publication: May 05, 2020
Started On: January 02, 2021
Finished On: January 09, 2021
S.M. LaViolette’s foray into erotic romance comes in the form of the Victorian Decadence series, the debut book of which is entitled His Harlot. These books are unlike any erotic romance books I have read (not that my experience is that vast), but I like character driven erotic romance just as much as anyone who loves the sub-genre. Ms. LaViolette certainly pulls no punches when it comes to writing these stories, and irrespective of those things that I did not understand (perhaps due to my conservative nature that is inherent in me), I did enjoy the major arcs as the story unfolded for the most part.
41 year old Edward Fanshawe is a regular customer at the Madame Tosca’s exclusive establishment for gentlemen where Nora works. Though not exclusively, Edward had been visiting Nora for the last eight months, during three months of which he had seen her and no other. During the period their sexual games had intensified with every encounter. Nora is an odd creature, someone whose body is as lithe as a young boy’s and yet feminine in a way that drives Edward just a little crazy.
Edward is horrified at the mere thought of being too dependent and obsessed with Nora, something which he seeks to avoid at all costs. His need to see those rare moments during which Nora lets him see into her emotions, by driving her hard sexually is the one aspect of their sexual escapades that leaves Edward more scared than he lets on. Having grown up at an orphanage, steeped in poverty, Edward has worked hard to get where he is, and he has plans that points him in the direction of finding him a respectable wife and getting himself an heir.
Nora makes him want the impossible, and unlike in “normal” romance novels where the hero would reluctantly offer for the heroine’s hand in marriage, what Edward offers her is to become his mistress. For Nora who has been in love with Edward, it is not an offer that she has to think much about it. Accept it she does, and then she finds out that that Edward plans on achieving his life goals with her by his side.
Nora is someone who likes sexual depravity. Since she had been fourteen years old, Nora had known that she was differently wired. Wanting freedom from the shackles of marriage, she had left life as she had known it and made it on her own – working at the whorehouse had been a means to an end of sorts, where she knew her sinful nature served her well. Meeting Edward and falling in love had been the one thing that had made her question her life choices, but Nora knows that marriage and respectability are two words that would never be applied to her.
His Harlot is a novel that depicts how two people so lost in their depraved games to heighten sexual intimacy, each equally afraid of giving away the fragility of their feelings for one another, hurt other people in their lives to the extent that one might perceive it to be unforgivable. There is a lot of pain that both Nora and Edward undergo before things get better, a lot of growing up that each does as individuals to understand the ramifications of their decisions when it came to each other.
Being an erotic romance, there were plentiful scenes of sex involved of course, but Ms. LaViolette has achieved what few authors perhaps can in such a setting – given emotional wholesomeness alongside with development of secondary characters to a point that makes you want to learn more about them. But funnily enough, me being the book quote lover that I am, did not really find much affinity with the scenes of passion in the story as it unfolded, perhaps because most of it were to do with Nora and Edward finding sexual pleasure at the cost of someone else’s emotions.
Furthermore, I had a hard time understanding Nora’s life choices – I just could not perceive how a woman brought up in a loving household (there were no indications of it being anything but) could just be okay with servicing men for sexual pleasure. I know that we are all wired differently, but that was just something I could not wrap my head around. We all pursue the fulfillment of our baser desires to different extents; our life choices often get messed up along the way as a resultant effect of those desires as well. But I guess regardless of my personal opinion, everything did work out for Nora and Edward in the end. I even rooted for them from a certain point onward, the painful period of separation giving that right touch of penance perhaps for their earlier behavior.
One key takeaway from the series – was everyone sex crazed in the Victorian era? Or is that just me? I certainly did not understand the need to have sex with everything that moves, but that is how most of the characters came off in the story. But enticing they are, and I am definitely going to read more of where this came from.
Recommended for erotic romance lovers; Ms. LaViolette is certainly talented in writing plentiful when it comes to inventive sex scenes and delivering wholesome goodness while at it.
Final Verdict: His Harlot is unlike any erotic romance I have read, taking the reader on a journey of sensual depravity that meets a lot of hurdles on the road to the happily ever after.
“Look at us,” he ordered, their eyes meeting in the glass. He pumped his hips, relishing the sight of his powerful body covering hers. “We look like two animals in rut,” he said, demonstrating again but harder, devouring the pain and lust and—yes, if he wasn’t mistaken—jealousy on her face. “We’re two of a kind,” he whispered in her ear. “Two mutts who like to fuck like the animals we are.” He thrust again, very close to his climax now. “But my wife, Nora, she will be a purebred.” His dark eyes held her pale ones in thrall: black and white just like this room—their room.
“And I’ll pump my seed into her purebred cunt and breed my mutts inside her gold-plated womb.” He leaned close enough to kiss her ear. “And you’ll have to watch and suffer and want.”
He gave one last vicious thrust and they came at the same moment, Nora climaxing as he spent deep inside her, tears streaming from her eyes.
There was no finesse, no gentleness. He sucked her into his mouth and ravaged her, the thick middle finger of his hand slamming into her hard, his thrusts deep and remorseless.
Nora plunged her fingers into his thick white hair, holding him firm while she ground herself against him, spreading wider and fucking his tongue, his lips, even his rough chin, which scratched skin that was almost virginal it had been so long since it had last had contact with anything but her hand.
Not like Edward, who’d been fucking and whipping women other than her all along. The familiar swirl of lust and jealousy filled her belly and overflowed into her womb, her body pounding with a primitive throbbing for him.
“My poor Nora,” he whispered, his hips resuming their pumping, his hand briefly grazing her wet cheek. “You’ve missed this just as much as I have.” This, being a thrust so brutal it almost choked her. He chuckled at the sound. “I can see you’re out of practice and in need of my firm hand and hard cock.” He held her head in an unbreakable grip while he drove into her with increasingly savagery, plunging cruelly, with no care but for his own pleasure, pushing her dangerously close to the edge.
“No,” he ordered harshly.
His selfish command was more powerful than the most exotic aphrodisiac and almost sent her over the edge. But her body, if not her mind, responded without question to his mastery.