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Potent Pleasures Hardcover – 1 Sep 1999
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"James weaves a web of scandals and surprises, forcing the reader into a delicious surrender."
--Publishers Weekly "A fine debut...brings to mind the best of Amanda Quick and Judith McNaught."
--Booklist --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The first book in the Pleasures Trilogy --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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Maybe the problem is that my expectations were too high. I've always loved the wit, strength and intelligence of James' characters, so Charlotte's doormat routine went entirely against type. I've also always liked the heroes (it's a romance novel, you're supposed to like the heroes) - and enjoyed the fact that they were well-rounded, flawed but ultimately good men. And yet Alex is an abusive tool with no redeeming qualities. (To be fair, he doesn't actually hit her, but she's not sure he won't. At different points he undermines her sense of self, shames her sexuality, isolates her, threatens to rape her, publicly humiliates her, abandons her, blames her for the consequences of his actions and threatens to take her children.) Ultimately, I find that "Someone hurt him in the past but he's really sorry and I looooove him" is a lazy excuse for anybody and truly expected better from this author.
I'm well aware that this is historical romance and not a genre known for its realism or forward thinking. However, James' books usually stand out in a genre that's often too casual when approaching infidelity, abuse, rape, and virgin worship. The common excuse is that 'women didn't have any power so it was socially acceptable to oppress them then.' And while that's true, if I wanted to read about oppressed women, I'd read the news. In the past, James has taken characters in painful situations and provided a path to dignity and joy in spite of those societal constraints. Even more impressive (to me), she's taken characters I was prepared to loathe and written stories of redemption that I found really moving. In part, I think she's been able to do this by creating characters and relationships that eventually moved beyond two-dimensional stereotypes and instead moved into a place where individuals found reasons to actually respect each other.
The first half of this book almost got there - but then something terrible happened and all the complexity and depth went away. I don't know if all her books start out this badly until she works her magic, if she ran out of time or if a Stephanie Meyer wannabe ghost writer took over - and it doesn't really matter. Had this been my first Eloisa James book, I'm sure I'd never buy another. As it stands, I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt and try again - but she's now got a strike against her in my mind. When you find a good author, it's like discovering a new friend and you don't just kick one to the curb because they have a bad day. But you also can't unsee the flaws. I hope James returns to form because I'll miss her if she doesn't.
If you're a long-time reader of James' books, skip this one and wait for better result. If you're new to her work, go get Desperate Duchesses. James has written too many good books to be known for the steaming pile of mess in this one. Honestly, it'd be a real shame if she got hit by a bus tomorrow and this was the last thing she ever published.
Be warned this book will take you on a ride of emotions, I cried twice reading this, but also smiled and was happy.
I liked both characters even if Alex was a 'dolt'. If I was to pick at it then there would probably several things that are a bit far fetched for those times, however it's pretty irrelevant as it a piece of 'Fiction'. And I have read some of the negative comments on here and I really think that people forget it's a book, it didn't really happen!!!
This book has it all, happiness, heartache, love and romance. Highly recommend it. I'm itching to read the next book
The heroine, Charlotte, is quite likable, and likes to paint, actually is a serious painter, even if only for herself. She has a misadventure with the hero, Alex at a masquerade ball right before her debut. She feels herself to be ruined, and after three years of protesting agianst marriage, she finally decides that she doesn't want to be alone, and proceeds to give herself a makeover, and takes London by storm.
During this time, Alex has been sent off to Italy, while his twin brother Patrick, is sent off to India by their irate father. When Alex returns after Charlotte has become one of the reigning beauties of London, he doesn't recognize her. However, she recognizes him. Alex was declared impotent, which he went along with happily in order to escape from his marriage in Italy, and so even though he has a little daughter, he is believed to be ineligable for marriage. And from here, we get the rest of the plot. Alex still is distrustful of women, after his wife in Italy betrayed him with the servants, and those of their social circle, and anyone else to come along. Charlotte knows that Alex is the only one she has ever slept with, even if he doesn't believe her. And society decides that she has a tendre for his twin, since Alex is supposedly incapable.
The supporting characters are well drawn out, and you hope that they will re-appear in their own book(s) - they do! I look forward to reading more by this talented author.
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Not a nice book - hero seduces 17 year-old heroine, takes her virginity, then disappears.Read more
If you haven't read her give her a go.