Review: His Valet by S.M. LaViolette

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Decadence, #2
Publisher: Crooked Sixpence Press
Hero: Stephen Chatham
Heroine: Joseph Edward Leather
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: May 19, 2020
Started On: January 23, 2021
Finished On: January 28, 2021

His Valet is the second installment in the Victorian Decadence series by S.M. LaViolette. The story brings together 27 year old Joseph Edward Leather (Jo), who has been employed as a valet to 42 year old Stephen Chatham for quite sometime, and falls in love with her employer along the way, a man who wouldn’t look twice at her for all intents and purposes.

Jo is someone who has been working since the tender age of seven years. Her father had taught her to be nothing but exemplary in her servitude. Devotion is all that has been ingrained into her, not to mention the fact that she has spent her entire life pretending to be a man, the only way of life she has ever known. Even if it meant foregoing own sense of self-dignity, that is what Jo’s father drilled into her and her brother, and that is the code of ethics by which she lives.

Jo does not ever dream of a conventional happily ever after nor marriage for her. The only thing that she yearns for with every fiber of her being is to be with Stephen and when the opportunity presents itself, indulge she does for the five nights she pretends to be someone else.

When the truth comes out, Jo knows that the price she would have to pay would be immense, and even then, she is ill-prepared for the white hot anger that rules every decision Stephen makes thereon. Stephen, who has been burnt once and is twice shy, loathes deception of any kind. In Jo, Stephen sees only what he wants to see, and therein lies the battle which he must wage and win over himself, if Stephen and Jo were to have any chance in having a future together.

I loved the story line and the main protagonists better than I did those in the debut book of the series. Stephen is a compelling character and with Jo, he finds the answer to his every desire, the whys of which he doesn’t want to look into too closely lest it takes him in a direction that is far too uncomfortable for him to ponder on.

Jo’s character is the one that shines bright in the story, and I believe it is as Ms. LaViolette intended it to be. Her character makes one question their conceptions about the gender which they identify with, and it is something that I have never really thought much about. But Jo’s predicament is all too well understood, given how she was brought up and the fact that she has never had the freedom to understand enough to choose who she wanted to be.

It is with the enigmatic Mr. Smith that Jo truly finds the freedom to explore her mind and conscience, and to understand herself enough to be comfortable in her own skin and most of all, to love her own self. And it is those terms upon which Stephen must try to reconcile his own feelings with, if ever these two were to have their own version of a happily ever after.

The second lead game was strong in this novel; which is often felt when you are watching Korean dramas that strongly rely on love triangles to bring the angst factor forward. For me, the fact that I fell hard for Mr. Smith and my heart wept for him spells trouble with a capital T. It means that I am in a shit load of trouble even before Ms. LaViolette has released Smith’s own story, which I do not think I would ever be ready for. The fact that most fans of this series would want to get their hands on his novel is a foregone conclusion, and a Goodreads discussion on the author’s page proved me right.

Ms. LaViolette mentions that she is actually 3/4 through with his story and had to stop, because she too is learning that Smith is a difficult character who views sex and love to be completely separate and views love to be rarer than the practice of fidelity to someone. He is neither an easy person to love nor a nice person and his past even shocked Ms. LaViolette as she wrote the book.

So here I am hoping that one day soon, Ms. LaViolette gets the courage to start where she left it off and give us the story of the character that all our hearts collectively yearn for. I know it wouldn’t be an easy read by any means, but it would totally be worth it.

When all was said and done, Jo and Stephen did leave me with one burning question at the end – how would they fare as they go through the different phases of life together in their relationship; would either of them want more than the other can give? Would it always be enough, for her to be his valet and he her master in a way? I don’t think there are any easy answers to any of these questions.

Recommended for fans of Ms. LaViolette and fans of dark erotic romances in a historical setting.

Final Verdict: Thought provoking is not a phrase you would usually apply to an erotic romance, but in His Valet, Ms. LaViolette has outdone herself in giving readers characters that leaves the strongest impression on you!

Favorite Quotes

His lips curved into a smile she never thought she’d see directed toward her. “Lift your skirts higher for me.”
Her hands responded to his order just as they always did, and his gaze dropped to her thighs. He’d somehow managed to take off her other slipper without her being aware of it.
“I want to leave your stockings on,” he told her as she lifted her hem, exposing her shaved sex.
Heat flared in his eyes, dark, smoky and explosive—just like the savage, uncontrollable peat fires Jo had once seen when she’d been a girl. “God, yes. You are exactly the way I like,” he murmured. “So smooth, soft, sleek.”

“Should I ease in slowly, or do you want me to get it over with?” “Get it—” The marble phallus had not prepared her for the sensation of his thick, hot, and remarkably long organ sliding into her body. “My God you’re tight,” he whispered against her ear when he paused. “Is it terribly painful? Should I give you more? Or wait?” More?! She’d thought he was already all the way in. He was bloody huge and Jo was afraid she might scream if she opened her mouth so she clenched her jaws tight and whispered, “More.”

“Not yet,” he hissed between clenched teeth, his hips pounding without mercy. “Not yet, not yet, not—fuck!” He threw back his head and roared, driving into Gillian so hard that her head bumped Jo’s belly.
“Now,” he ordered, hilted in the other woman. “Come now.”
Jo’s back spasmed and arched, until it felt like it would snap, and she hurtled over the edge into oblivion.

“Hello, Stephen.”
Stephen slammed the armoire door and strode toward her without speaking, pulled off her hat, tossing it aside, and crushed her mouth with his, as if he’d not seen her in a year, instead of only a night.
She gave as hard as she got and they were both breathless when he finally pulled away.
“Hello, Josephine.”

“Do you like it, Josephine?” he asked in a voice that was rough with restraint.
Jo pressed herself against him, the action pushing him deeper, causing a dull pain to radiate from where they were joined. She felt the change in his body, the subtle loosening of control, like a rope that had been cut and was beginning to fray faster and faster.
“Fuck,” he said, groaning. His arm slid around her waist and his fingers fanned over her belly, holding her body against his while he invaded her inch by inch by inch. Just the thought of what they were doing—so filthy and primitive and wrong—made every muscle clench.
“Josephine,” he whispered, shuddering.

Stephen whispered in her ear, his voice harsh. “I can’t restrain myself much longer, Josephine. Do you want it?”
“Yes, Stephen. . . please.”
Stephen must have made some sign because Julian left her body and stepped back, his cock jutting heavy and slick in front of him, his expression tense with the effort of holding back his orgasm. It was Jo’s turn to smile and then she closed her eyes and opened her body to the man she loved, heart and soul.
Stephen’s pounding became savage, his hips pumping mercilessly now. “I’m going to come in you, Josephine. I’m going to—” he gave loud, guttural cry as he thrust deep and froze, holding her in an unbreakable embrace while his cock spasmed and flooded her with his seed.

When his mouth slanted over hers, her hands did what they’d been wanting to do for weeks and slid around his smooth, muscular torso. He groaned and pulled her against him, his arm like an iron strap around her waist.
His mouth was silken and tasted like liquor and smoke from his strangely fragrant cigars. His kisses were as firm and hot and powerful as he was.

He grazed her breast with his teeth and she whimpered as he slid a hand down the front of her trousers, beneath the waistband, and then stopped on her mound, groaning. “Oh, God, I love a shaved cunt,” he whispered into her breast before dropping into a crouch and grabbing both sides of her placket and then ripping her trousers right down the middle.
Jo gasped. “Oh, no, but—”
“Hush,” he muttered, yanking the string that held up her drawers. “I’ll buy you another dozen pairs. Good Lord your body is beautiful.” He dropped to his haunches and spread her lower lips with his thumbs and plunged his tongue into her, his moan vibrating through her body.

“Stockings stay on while I fuck you, I think,” he said, panting as he knelt between her spread thighs, staring down at her with black eyes that were heavy with need. “This is an emergency, darling, and I’m going to ejaculate with shocking haste. But the next time will be up to my usual standards.”
Jo laughed breathlessly and spread wide for him as he placed his beautiful cock at her soaking entrance and slammed into her, pulling her tight to his body as he entered. He held her full for a moment, his eyes locked with hers, his chest rising and falling as if he were being chased.
“How do you want it? Hard, hard, or hard?” he asked.
Jo couldn’t help laughing. “What was that third one agai—”
He began to fuck her with furious, violent thrusts, his teeth gritted and his jaw clenched as he pounded into her, angling his hips for the deepest penetration. He worked her so savagely she knew there would be bruises.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BookDepo

Requested ARC Review: The Music of Love by S.M. LaViolette

Format: E-Bookthemusicoflove.JPG
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Academy of Love, #1
Publisher: Crooked Sixpence Press
Hero: Portia Stefani
Heroine: Eustace Harrington
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: December 31, 2019
Started On: December 20, 2019
Finished On: December 23, 2019

“Never hide your sensual nature. Passion is something to be proud of, even though men try to shame women for taking pleasure from their bodies.” – Benedict Carruthers

The Music of Love by S.M. LaViolette aka Minerva Spencer is set to hit the book stands on the 31st of this month. The debut to an all brand new series, The Academy of Love, this title is a bit different in prose and style in comparison to The Outcasts series which I have adored and enjoyed for the most part.

29 year old Portia Stefani, having found out that her husband had been in a bigamous relationship with her, finds herself in dire straits, with nowhere to turn to, except to deceive her way into ensuring employment with Eustace Harrington, who had wanted to employ her “husband’s” music teaching services.

35 year old Eustace (Stacy), suffers from albinism, and lives in isolation for the most part of his days. Having made peace with the fact that he would remain so for the rest of his life, it is something of a surprise when instead of Ivo who he had been expecting, his wife turns up in his stead. Hiring Portia, who is willful, passionate, and obstinate for a grace period, Stacy knows that the way he reacts to her physically could be problematic down the line.

Contrary to what Stacy has experienced when it comes to most who view his condition, Portia sees beyond that to a man who is gentle, kind, firm, and responsible, a man worthy of someone’s love, passion, and loyalty. Portia sees the aristocratic beauty to him, the sensuality that is one with his physique. Though Portia believes herself to be cynical enough not to succumb, she finds herself doing just that, as the passion between them bursts forth in all its glorious abandon.

However, there are forces at play in both Stacy and Portia’s life, who could prove to be detrimental to the happiness that seems to be within reach and elusive at the same time, as Stacy and Portia navigate the often treacherous waters surrounding their lives.

I loved The Music of Love because it was so different in many ways. For one thing, Portia was a heroine who was refreshing on many levels because she was no innocent to the pleasures of the flesh. She is a woman who knows what she wants, and is not afraid of seeking that pleasure with her partner. Even though her “husband” had tried to fault her for it, tried to make her feel ashamed, there is a reservoir of fire inside of her that refuses to be put out.

Stacy was a marvelous character in his own right. He has very few prejudices (if he has any), and he doesn’t find fault with a woman who seeks to attain pleasure that is rightfully hers in a consensual relationship between two adults. Though he of course feels the twinges of jealousy and possessiveness, raw feelings of the kind he thought he would never feel, there is a tenderness and ferocity to his passion for Portia that was beautiful in many ways.

I loved the passion in the story. There is so much fire between Stacy and Portia that it is hard to remain unaffected. I believe Minerva has more than made up for the lack of heat I found in Scandalous, the 3rd book in The Outcasts series, which I found a trifle bit disappointing in that regard. When an author introduces characters who are fiery and passionate, even if they tamp down their desires in the face of societal norms, there is no point to a relationship, if the character is unable to be true to their nature with their significant other when the story comes to pass.

I fell in love with Stacy from the moment I met him in the story. Contrary to many male lead characters who live in isolation owing to various ailments that society had refused to consider as part of them, perhaps Stacy’s temperament and attitude towards life was what it is, largely owing to how he had been brought up, without having to face the ugly realities that could have easily being his life, if not for a certain member of his family.

The culmination of the events that leads up to the ending had twists and turns that I didn’t see coming; which happens rarely when you read so many books of the nature. For that alone, I enjoyed the marvelous escape this novel provided, and am eagerly looking forward to the second installment of the series, of which the excerpt is included towards the end of the book. There would probably be seven installments in the series, the secondary characters whom (some of them) made an appearance in the story throughout.

Recommended for those who love historical romances with a bit of intrigue and a hero who by his very nature makes you fall hopelessly in love.

Final Verdict: The Music of Love combines tempestuous passion and zeal of two characters who are compassionate, intense, and wilful. The forces combined are unstoppable and makes one fall, and fall hard.

Favorite Quotes

When he pulled out she made an unspeakably erotic sound deep in her throat, grabbed a handful of his hair, and yanked his head up.
Her eyes bored into his, black with need. “Fuck me, Stacy.”
His jaw dropped. Had she really said what he thought she said?
“Now,” she growled.
Stacy obeyed without thinking and slammed into her hard.
“Yes.” The word was a satisfied hiss and her eyelids fluttered closed.
He used her with such unrestrained savagery that some part of him worried he was bruising her. But she met him thrust for violent thrust, her body as hungry as his own. Her climax built quickly and he redoubled his efforts, his hips pounding into her faster, deeper.

She was waiting for him and her hands went around his neck even as his slid around her body. He crushed her mouth under his. The kiss was the physical equivalent of the music she’d just played: fierce, unbridled, and mad. He couldn’t get deep enough inside her, couldn’t get enough of her mouth, her taste, her heat. It felt like years since that glorious night in the stables.
She made a gravelly noise in her throat and her fingers threaded into his hair and tugged painfully as her mouth moved from his lips down his face. She bit him on the chin, hard.
Stacy heard himself utter the words he swore he’d not speak. “I want you. Now.”

“My God,” he whispered, and then slid his free hand between her legs and found what he wanted. “Tell me how I should fuck you,” he ordered, thumbing her stiff, sensitive bud. “I want to hear you say it.”
Her body shuddered at the vulgar word and Stacy guided his shaft between her spread thighs and pushed the slick crown against her tight opening, but not enough to breech her. “Tell me,” he said harshly, ceasing his suggestive stroking.
She canted her hips even more and shoved back against him. “Hard, Stacy. Fuck me hard.”

“You’re a god,” she said, her voice low and harsh with want.
His jaw tightened and his thick shaft jerked, the slit in the fat, smooth crown leaking freely. Portia smiled at the delicious evidence of his desire; he was so close to spending. It would take only a few touches from her—
“You are a devil.”
His words pulled her eyes from his erection. He wrapped one large hand around her throat and held her gently but firmly pinned to the bed. The dominating gesture was unspeakably erotic and she spread wider for him. His red eyes became twin black pools as he dragged his free hand down her chest, between her breasts, leaving her eager nipples untouched. He had a clear destination and didn’t linger until he reached the dark tangle between her legs. He parted her swollen lips and thrust a finger inside. She arched against the sudden invasion, desperate for more.

Portia gloried in her ability to undo him; working him until he had nothing left to give. Only then did she pull back and release him, doubling over and gasping for breath, her lungs on fire. It took several moments before she could look up at him.
He stared down at her with a dazed expression, his lips parted and his chest rising and falling as if he’d been running. He shook his head and then took her arms and lifted her to her feet.
“Portia.”
She turned, refusing to look at him.
She hated him.
She loved him.

Portia stopped as suddenly as she’d started, leaving him hard and wanting. He opened his eyes a crack. She’d hiked her skirt and petticoat and tucked them into the front of her bodice before clambering onto the bed and straddling him. She stared at him as she guided him to her entrance, lowering herself onto him with a violence that robbed his lungs of air. Daylight streamed through the windows and it was brighter than any room they’d ever made love in. Stacy could not keep his eyes from consuming her.
Her lips parted as she rode him. “Tell me what you want, Mr. Harrington.”

“Come closer.”
She pushed herself closer, the motions awkward, like a crab forced to walk forward.
“Closer.” The single guttural word made her shudder and Portia scooted until she was close enough to feel the heat of his uneven breathing on the sensitive skin of her thighs. He lifted wet hands and parted her lips, his touch warm and feather-light. When he looked up the red was no more than a ring around swollen black pupils. He slid low in the water before leaning into her, his eyes holding hers while the very tip of his tongue found her peak.

In a few brusque motions he lifted her, set her on her feet, and bent her over the tub, shoving her knees wide before stroking her hot cleft with his equally hot shaft. And then he thrust into her so hard she had to brace her hands to keep from falling over the rim and into the water.
He pulled all the way out and teased her entrance with his swollen head as he wound her hair around his hand, the motion arching her back and back and back until she felt her spine might snap. He held her body taut and immobile while he breached her only with the fat crown.

“Have you missed this?” he hissed, his chest slick and hard against her back, his breath hot against her ear. “Have you missed my cock inside your body? My fingers? My tongue?” he taunted before pounding her with a series of savage thrusts that left her dizzy. He stopped again, buried to the hilt, his shaft so hard she could feel him pulsing inside her.
“Did you pleasure yourself, Portia?” His voice throbbed with a tangle of desire, anger, and hurt. “I did. I stroked myself raw thinking about you.” He pulled out with agonizing slowness and then impaled her with a brutal thrust.
Portia almost climaxed from his words alone.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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