Saturday, 9 December 2006

Portia Da Costa - The Tutor

Grade: B-

Ok, my first review :-) The Tutor by Portia Da Costa came to my attention thanks to a review from Rosario's Reading Journal. It sounded interesting and of course I always wanted to try out more Black Lace titles. I normally don't do erotica well, I prefer HEAs, stories that involve monogamous couples (or trios) and a solid plot to give me something more to read than sex scenes. But Black Lace got Emma Holly famous and I adore that woman! I've read another title from this line that has got an A- from me: Out of Bounds by Mandy Dickinson - a sexy ménage à trois with a lovely happy ending. (I am NOT mentioning those approximately ten German translations I have suffered through where one story was worse than the last...).

Here's the blurb:

When Rosalind Howard becomes Julian Hadey's private librarian, she soon finds herself attracted by his persuasive charms and distinguished appearance. He is an unashamed sensualist, a man of wealth and intellect who, together with his libidinous wife, Celeste, has hatched an intriguing challenge for their new employee. As well as cataloguing their extensive archive of erotica, Rosie is expected to educate Celeste's young and beautiful cousin in the arts of erotic love. Having led a sheltered life, the young man is simmering with youthful passion. In luxurious surroundings, they find themselves drawn into increasingly decadent scenarios where experimental sex is on the menu and like minded libertines reap the rewards of unbridled desire.

OK, first to what I really enjoyed.
The characterisation is fabulous. All persons, be it the heroine Rosie, David the gorgeous but nervous 19 year old, the married couple Julian and Celeste or the crazy fitness trainer Ladybird - all were truly likable. A bunch of great people who are sexually liberated, but don't judge those who are more inhibited or insecure (like Rosie for example). I have often experienced that minor characters tend to be portrayed too friendly, stereotype or sweet - like in your average Harlequin publication. But that wasn't the case with this book. Despite their amiable ways they didn't loose any credibility.

Rosie may be your average librarian as we know them from countless other romances, a little voluptuous, insecure and without much self-worth, but as the story continues she gradually moves on and starts to enjoy her own sexuality and discovers that heterosexuality may not the only key to sexual bliss. Except for Emma Holly's f/f scenes this was the first time that I didn't skip love scenes between two women.

I also had a weakness for Julian. Admittedly, I always have a weakness for dark, sophisticated, sexually experienced heroes, who have a certain alpha quality to themselves without being so overly exaggerated as it happens unfortunately too often.

The plot is practically nonexistent, but I didn't mind at all because the sex scenes were totally entertaining and sufficient. No skipping any pages and no getting bored because of the nth "tab a in slot b" scene.

I found myself in a situation where I couldn't put that book away, it was entertaining, captivating and truly sexy ... right up to a sex scene during the 2nd third. Up until then I truly thought I would keep the book and give it a nice place on my shelf besides Emma Holly's Black Lace editions.

I am contemplating if this scene could be considered a spoiler - I am really not sure, because it doesn't actually concern the plot (which isn't very difficult), it's just one more sex scene - one that felt like the proverbial cold shower. But because it happens later on in the story you might want to think about reading on.

Before I start elaborating I want to say that I've read a number of D/s novels, some I enjoyed very much, some appeared as if the author didn't know what he/she was writing about and then there were those who were too extreme for my tastes. I have read BDSM stories about heterosexuals, bisexuals and gay couples - and it didn't make a difference to me, I either liked them or not - because of the love scenes, and nothing else.

During the second third of The Tutor Julian has a short intermezzo with his chauffeur. That Julian I described before as dark, brooding, and dominant but who is also a very adorable guy. I wouldn't have minded to read a D/s scene were Julian simply switched to bottom and cried because of the sexual intensity of the event, but as a female reader I find it a total turn off if the afore mentioned sexy guy becomes a whining, effeminate kind of person I don't recognise and can't stand at all.

Perhaps I am standing alone with this opinion, but after reading that scene I was so disappointed because all those highly erotic scenes that happened between Rosie and Julian appeared fake and played and I just knew that I would never reread this book.

Weeel, nevertheless I am looking forward to my second Portia Da Costa novel, The Stranger, I am currently trading for. First, it has a HEA, always a big plus for me, and I've read some really nice reviews about it....

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