Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Lady's Tutor by Robin Schone ***

This is another book I read because it was on the AAR Top 100 of 2007, and no other reason. I haven't seen it lauded on the forums, nor have I been wanting necessarily to read this author based on other's suggestions. It's subtitled "A novel of erotic romance" and AAR gives it a "burning" rating, so I went into it expecting something more, something different.

I dunno. I guess I set up my expectations for something and it did not meet them. It was erotic, a lot more descriptive and inventive than the books I normally read, so it did not disappoint in that area.

The heroine, Elizabeth Petre, is the wife of and daughter of politicians. Hers was an arranged marriage of sorts, set up to enhance her husband's rise on the political scene. They have 2 sons, off at boarding school. She approaches the Bastard Sheikh, Ramiel, out of desperation, because of rumors her husband has been seen with a mistress. He hasn't visited her bed in years, and so she has decided to learn the art of seduction to try to woo her husband back.

Ramiel is the illegitimate son of an English countess and an Arab sheikh. He was raised in England then sent to live with his father at age 12, and is now straddling 2 worlds - East and West - while not really feeling he belongs in either. He is sought out by English woman - hmmm, how to word this - not really as a lover because no love is involved. Just for sex. That's it. And while he is satisfied sexually, he suffers from a lack of love, of being wanted just for himself. Not that he wallows in it, but that, when he meets Elizabeth and hears her request, he realizes that no one has ever wanted to please him, pleasure him.

It isn't about adultery - she makes it clear that she wants lessons from him but he is never to touch her, just teach her.

The story is also one of intrigue, as the mystery of who the husband's mistress is followed.

Why did this story fall so flat for me? Maybe it was the way I did not buy into the villain part. I figured out way early on what the problem was with their marriage, and it wasn't much longer before I figured out who the mistress was. Somehow, though, the tawdriness of it all was too overwhelming, or maybe the author's treatment of it was what put me off. Maybe in my own mind, I was being a little too "PC" about the subject, wanting it not to be as it turned out to be. So while her lessons and the erotica were well-written, the "why" and the "whodunit" parts just didn't ring true for me. And I don't know why not, unless it was just that I felt the villains ended up too... much. Too incredible. Three generations?? I just gawked - and then I thought, if her mother and grandmother were aware, how in the world did she escape it and not know, as they did? Even the "nature or nurture" argument wouldn't work here, because she was both born of them and raised by them. Hello, Earth to Elizabeth.

Well, enough dancing around the story without spoiling it. I didn't get what I wanted: that feel good ending. And it wasn't the erotic writing, but the storyline itself that just didn't do it for me.

Don't get me wrong, the hero and heroine end up together with their own HEA, and I was glad they did. But I didn't get that afterglow, that - "oh, at last, the lovers are united" feeling because I was still so uneasy about their journey.

So - 3 stars. But I often feel this disappointment after finishing a book so lauded that doesn't speak to me - is it me? I dunno.

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