If the banner isn’t enough of a clue, Mastering the Marquess by Lavinia Kent is erotica meant for mature readers. If you don’t enjoy explicit sex, mild kink, and exploration of sexuality I suggest passing on both this review and this novel. However, if any of these sound like your reading catnip, blaze ahead! You may just find your new favourite book!
Louisa, Lady Brookingston, married the love of her life at nineteen after he returned severely injured from war and became a widow at the tender age of twenty-four. Due to the nature of her husband’s injuries, the marriage was never consummated, and faithful Louisa can’t bear gossip of her husband’s inability to get out when she decides to seek a second husband two years later. The intrepid lady asks the owner of her husband’s preferred brothel, Madame Rouge, for aid in losing her virginity, which throws her into the path of Geoffrey, the Marquess of Swanston. While their first encounter is entirely anonymous the two lonely people connect in a way that will follow them into the salons and dance floors of high society. Can they find their way to their public personas to forge a bond that will last beyond just one night, and can they reconcile their beliefs about what sex should be like in a marriage?
Obviously, the first reason I, and most readers, pick up a novel billed as “erotica” is because I want steamy sex, and Lavinia Kent’s Mastering the Marquess delivers in spades. Even the non-sex scenes set up a degree of anticipation for the ultimate goal, and the eloquent writing kept me on the edge of my seat wondering how each encounter would top the previous ones! At the same time Louisa and Geoffrey were not flat, faceless individuals with no character development. While the focus is definitely the main couple’s heated bedroom romps, they have enough background, personality, and motivation to avoid being nothing more than reader stand ins. I found myself rooting for them to work through the misunderstandings, secrets, and general difficulties of couplehood and eagerly waited for a happily ever after in the final pages. As an added bonus the couple does not have a surprise pregnancy to make everything perfect, although they both yearn for children; it felt like a nod to Geoffrey and Louisa needing to work things out with each other before bringing youngsters into the mix.
For me Mastering the Marquess stood out from many BDSM themed erotica because of its focus on consent that threaded throughout the novel. In their anonymous first encounter Geoffrey explicitly tells Louisa that she should only do what she feels comfortable with, and while she should try various behaviours (given she is a virgin and has no baseline), if she truly doesn’t like it to say “no,” and he will respect her boundaries. He refuses to force her to do anything despite his natural inclination for control in the bedroom and creates a safe environment for Louisa to learn about her sexuality. The consent line becomes blurred later in the story, due to lack of real discussion about sexual activities, which disappointed me a little, but the couple redeemed themselves by having a frank, detailed conversation about what type of BDSM play Louisa was open to as their relationship progressed. Also, Kent emphasizes the trust between her main characters as a factor in the less obviously consensual scenes, and even secondary cast condemn those who force kink or sexual encounters onto others, which becomes a major plot point. With consent being a huge issue in modern society I was thrilled to find a novel that both embraced sensuality/sexuality and the importance of clear permission in pursuing either with a partner.
I’m not a huge fan of the virgin widow trope in romance and erotica, but Louisa’s scenario made sense and was a huge factor in getting the plot rolling. I especially appreciate the care Kent took in revealing that John, Louisa’s late husband, had tried to dissolve their engagement because he knew his injuries would prevent normal marital relations.
With the exception of one extended sex scene most of the kink in Mastering the Marquess is fairly tame and avoids more extreme examples of what can occur in BDSM (no pony boots, blood play, etc, here), which gives it just enough zip to intrigue both more vanilla and experienced readers alike. The focus is on one partner relinquishing control to the other, not a desire to hurt or be hurt.
I ripped through Mastering the Marquess in about four days, and it felt like the novel kept me at a fever pitch the entire time. The heat pouring off my digital pages made it a guilty pleasure, and I would definitely read more from Lavinia Kent in the future. She knows which of my buttons to press for satisfying erotica.
4.5 Brightly Coloured Silken Ties out of 5
MASTERING THE MARQUESS
Written by Lavinia Kent
Published by Loveswept
July 29, 2014
MASTERING THE MARQUESS on Goodreads
One night of fierce passion and unbound pleasure leaves two strangers craving much more in Lavinia Kent’s sumptuous novel of sensual discovery.
The time has come for the widow Louisa, Lady Brookingston, to move on, but she refuses to remarry at the cost of shaming her late husband’s memory. Their six years together were wedded bliss—even if a war injury prevented him from fulfilling his marital duties. Only one woman can help Louisa: Madame Rouge, the discreet proprietress of a club where London’s elite explore their wildest fantasies.
Geoffrey, the Marquess of Swanston, has no intention of agreeing to deflower an anonymous virgin. But when Madame Rouge tempts him with the absolute power he’ll have over a woman who knows nothing of carnal delights, he’s intrigued. Control is the one thing he cannot resist—and control is what he loses during his night with the blindfolded beauty. He longs to take her further, to leave his mark upon her perfect behind, but the mystery woman refuses to see him again. Instead Geoffrey reluctantly agrees to take a wife, the widow of his dear friend, Lord Brookingston—fating them both to a wicked surprise.
Mastering the Marquess is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences.
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About Lavinia Kent
Lavinia Kent is a former two-term president of the Washington Romance Writers and a four-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart nominee. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her family and an ever-changing menagerie of pets.
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