Novella #1: SLEEPING BEAU
For five long tormented years, Adrien Christophe d'Aspe de Bourbon, Marquis de Beaulain has been assailed by haunting erotic dreams of the woman who once drugged him then went on to grant him the most memorable sexual escapade of his life. Leaving with the dawn, he never learned her identity and though he searched, she was never found. Now in the present, Adrien's emotional and heartbroken younger half-sister pleads with him to seduce the woman that has stolen her lover's heart. Exasperated by his sister's immature demands and foolish stubbornness to cling to a man that obviously no longer wants her, Adrien is inclined to say no until he glimpses the woman in question. It's her, his midnight temptress and this time he'll not allow her escape without giving him the answers to the questions that have haunted him for five endless years.
Catherine de Villecourt is weeks from securing a life that will finally grant her the contentment that has thus far succeeded to eluded her. Married off to her now late husband, a man who didn't love her, Catherine did all she could to prevent the nuptials even going to the extent of sullying her virginity, but to no avail. While her upcoming marriage is once again a loveless one, the chance for children and a family is all she requires. But Catherine may be looking at a life in prison when she's cornered by the man she drugged with an aphrodisiac all those years ago. The sweet memories of their love making have sustained her heart all this time but with his identity finally revealed as one of the illegitimate sons of the King, her actions, if learned, could very easily find Catherine incarcerated.
While Catherine persists in denying she was the lady that seduced Adrien all those nights ago, he'll not give up. Hoping to strike a mutually beneficial agreement, Catherine propositions Adrien by granting him one week as his mistress in exchange for his silence. Foolishly both hope to purge the other from their lustful thoughts but as one sinful encounter after another leads them quickly towards week's end, their hearts soon prove to be in grave danger. But with Catherine betrothed to another and Adrien hesitant to make a commitment, their affair might end with heartache after all.
SLEEPING BEAU resonated strongly with my reader heart. The sinfully erotic content, sharp language, and forbidden passion reminded me greatly of Lisa Valdez and her debut release, PASSION. From beginning to end, I loved this novella.
Adrien is a delicious hero. His quick and befuddling possessiveness where Catherine's concerned is both entertaining and heart pounding to read. He wants her so badly and while he hopes to draw out every moment of their short affair, Catherine manages to push his control to the limit every time.
I enjoyed Catherine as well. She's so desperate for love yet she's managed to put a stranglehold on her desires. Both of these characters have simply been moving with the waves of time until they're once again faced with each other. It's only in that moment that they finally awake and become the people they were meant to be.
Novella #2: LITTLE RED WRITING
Nicolas de Savignac, Comte de Lambell is consumed by a single driving goal to become Captain of the King's Guard and he'll use any means necessary to achieve it. Sent on a mission to locate and arrest Gilbert Leduc, author of illegal publishing's that paint the male French aristocracy in an unfavorable light, Nicolas tracks the notorious author to his estranged grandmother's residence. Arranging a tedious diversion for his grandmother that quickly takes her away, Nicolas promptly makes his acquaintance with the three sisters residing at the estate with the rouse that he wishes to learn more of the grandmother he's never met. Everything is soon going to plan along with a surprising yet lovely diversion in the form Anne de Vignon and the mutual lust that ignites between them.
Anne is more than wary of Nicolas but he's the grandson of her patroness and to be rude would speak poorly of her high esteem for the Comtesse de Cottineau. Besides, Gilbert Leduc is more than safe for no one has been able to trace him much less believe that a couple of girls are in fact the popular author. Women need the outlet that Leduc provides them. In a world where men have complete and utter control, the grievances that women bear are too great. At least Leduc can provide them a moment to shine light on the oppressive behavior of their men. No, what Anne is more wary of is the uncontainable desire within her soul that burns for Nicolas. Having only known neglect in a man's arms, Anne recognizes the pleasure that Nicolas could provide her. What's the harm in taking a lover especially when he's as sinfully beautiful as Nicolas?
Where Nicolas once thought that sleeping Anne, who very well may involved with Gilbert Leduc, wouldn't ever be a problem, now guilt assails him. He's falling for Anne and as time whittles away and his avoidance of his investigation becomes a crushing burden that he must see through, Nicolas makes the decision to tell Anne of his love. While he must soon make his arrest whether it be Anne or one of her sisters, he knows that one of them is Leduc but he will do all that he can to keep Anne out of prison. He'll even risk his dream of becoming Captain of the Guard.
The most complex of the three novellas, LITTLE RED WRITING is a roller coaster of intensities. While of course you dislike Nicolas immensely at the beginning, his heart's turmoil soon puts you on the edge as you suffer along with him knowing that in the end, he's still bound by his royal obligations. There is also gratification in reading of a selfish man falling victim to his own arrogance. The brilliance is in the writing however in that you're soon rooting for Nicolas with the hopes that he'll reach his Happily Ever After.
Anne, conversely, is lovely from beginning to end. I loved her devotion to her sisters and the need she felt to help women. While perhaps it might not have been the best avenue to accomplish the latter with Gilbert Leduc, I enjoyed the light that was shown on the injustices towards women.
Novella #3: BEWITCHING IN BOOTS
Elisabeth de Roussel, the favored daughter of the King, is wholly enamored by the King's Captain of the Guard, Tristan de Tiersonnier. Ever since the moment she first clapped eyes on his stunningly strong physique and piercing gaze, she's wanted to be the sole recipient of his heated regard and lusty embrace. After his callus dismal for an injury obtained from doing his duty and protecting the King, Elisabeth knows that he's been dealt a grave injustice. But there's more to Elisabeth's desire then to just see Tristan righteously reinstated, she wants him for herself. Knowing that her father is once again planning to marry her off, this time she'll have more of a say as to whom. Planning the seduction of a life time, Elisabeth sets off for Tristan's chateau with every intention of claiming him for good or to at least purge her flaming desire once and for all.
The last person in the world that Tristan wishes to see is Elisabeth and her royal entourage. His dismissal as the Captain of the Guard has left him bitter and depressed as he haunts his chateau. Solitude is what he craves not the favored daughter of the King. But when the beauty alights from her carriage clad scandalously in gripping breeches and skin hugging boots, all of Tristan's thoughts head directly south. Determined to scare her from his premises, he threatens her with silken scarves and complete domination. (Uhhh yeah, like who would say no to that? Thankfully not our heroine)
Forever in control, Elisabeth is at first frightened to let down her guard in front of Tristan. Trained to always withhold emotion whilst at court, Elisabeth doesn't know how to express herself with words. Soon, however, she finds release in Tristan's hold. But when she gambles with her future in attempt to secure her marriage to Tristan, her scheming ways may finally succeed in dumping her on the loosing end.
BEWITCHING IN BOOTS is the most erotic of the three novellas, in my opinion, making it a delightful stellar of a finale.
First, I love a broken hero, especially a physically broken hero. Tristan embodies all that and more but what I loved above all else, is his ability to keep his pride from clouding his judgement. Too many times I've read of the prideful yet broken hero and his crushing ability to hurt his heroine and it was wholly refreshing to find that in this novella, that wasn't the case.
Normally, a managing female such as Elisabeth wouldn't necessarily be my favorite but what I discovered along with Tristan is that she was a much needed flame that re lit Tristan's dismal life. She was perfect for him.
AWAKENED BY A KISS is a sinfully erotic collection of multi-layered plots and characters that's sure to please. One certainly doesn't need to be familiar with the fairy tales that inspire these romances in order to fall head-over-heels in love for its the collection of heroes and heroines that make this compilation so marvellously entertaining. Readers yearning for a lusciously romantic diversion will find all that in more with this first edition in Lila DiPasqua's Fiery Tales Collection.