Thursday, July 5, 2012

Review: An Introduction to Pleasure by Jess Michaels



This is the first book I featured in my first Sample Reading post and I wasn't supposed to buy this book until later this month but I couldn't resist it! I was too intrigued by Lysandra and Andrew to wait a few weeks before finding out what happens to them!

Lysandra is desperate. She has no job and no reference and very little money and a sick mother who depends on her. With no connections or options left, Lysandra finds herself knocking at Vivien Manning's door to seek Miss Manning's assistance.

But Vivien isn't an ordinary woman and the assistance she provides is anything but ordinary. Vivien has had a successful run of being a mistress to many powerful men. Now she is in the business of matching mistresses to their prospective gentleman protectors.

One look at Lysandra and Vivien has no doubt in her mind whom to contact.

Andrew, Lord Callis, is alive and breathing but he hasn't really been living a proper life. When his wife died three years ago, a part of him died along with her. A former rake who reformed for love, he lost all reason for living that day many years ago.

Now he is in London for his regular visit with his family and the cryptic message from Vivien has piqued his interest. And so he pays her a visit.

Vivien's request cuts Andrew to the core. Teach Lysandra about passion. Introduce her to pleasure. How could he, when he hadn't felt passion or pleasure in a long while? But who could refuse Vivien Manning?

And so their lessons begin.

Lysandra and Andrew are wonderful characters and this was a wonderful story. I loved how Lysandra grows and develops as the story progresses. In the beginning, she is a tentative woman who has a very low sense of her own personal value.

She was almost afraid to sit on them, for they clearly cost a fortune and were meant for important guests, not utterly common women attempting to become mistresses.
- loc 333

But, by the end of the story, she becomes a woman who understands herself -- her needs and wants and one who understands her heart. And she becomes a woman who is not afraid to stand up for herself. (See second half of Chapter 27)

The wonderful thing about Jess Michaels stories is that, while they are erotic, she conveys a wonderful sense of intimacy. The encounters between Andrew and Lysandra do not feel contrived or inauthentic (definitely not sex for the sake of sex) -- it is an act that challenges our characters to extend beyond themselves and their own personal wants. It is an act that validates and expresses what they feel in their hearts.

There was no space between them, no air between them beyond the breath they shared. Her face was even with his and their eyes met. For a moment he stopped moving and just stared at her, almost as if he was seeing her for the first time.
- loc 1553

This is a story that balances the historical romance aspect with the erotic aspect. That being said, I will still caution readers that this does contain a bit more than the average historical romance.

This is the first book in the Mistress Matchmaker series. The second book, For Desire Alone, will be released in November 2012. (I am hoping this is Miles Weatherfield's story. He was introduced in this book and I love his character!)

Jess Michaels also writes as Jenna Petersen. To find out more about the author and her works, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.

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