on September 22, 2004
I loved one of the stories in this collection, liked one, disliked one and was left cold by the fourth, but all four authors display a mastery of the genre. Their stories are well-written, fully fleshed, and fit their individual genres.
The Ruination of Lady Jane by Hamre is my favorite. I loved the relationship between the characters, both past and present, the wordplay, the love play, but mostly I loved the delightful combination of the traditional Regency comedy of manners with sizzling yet tender erotic scenes and a wonderfully romantic, satisfying conclusion. True romantica, a definite keeper. 5 stars and more if there were any!
Next, I liked Sinclair's Private Eyes for the undercurrents between the characters, the mystery and the passionate scenes. 4 stars here.
I had ambivalent reactions to The Sacrifice by Dubois. First I was intrigued, then appalled, and finally somewhat satisfied by the ending. 3 stars.
Unfortunately, the choice of subject matter and characterizations in Cesarini's Code Name: Kiss struck me as very difficult to portray with a positive note. I'm sure that the author intended to do so, but world events precluded that. Nonetheless, Cesarini has a gift for words and sensual writing that should have made this an excellent offering. 2 stars for this one.
Yet 5 stars overall to the 10th volume from Red Sage. Looking forward to more!
on November 23, 2008
** "Private Eyes" by Dominique Sinclair.
*blinks* Well. That surprised me. My least favorite story in the anthology, and most everyone else cited this as the best story. How very odd.
I guess the story itself is pretty entertaining--private eye Nikki specializes in catching cheating husbands, and between that and her mother's past, she has a low opinion of men and of relationships. But a mysterious man keeps running into her, and there is a pretty clever misunderstanding-type plot between them.
However. I absolutely could not get past the writing. I wanted to take the author's (or the editor's--I'm not picky) thesaurus away and bury it. Seriously purple prose, and some misused words that set my teeth on edge (the heroine thinking that "her body was scintillating after a night of vivid dreams"? I don't think so.)
**** "The Ruination of Lady Jane" by Bonnie Hamre.
This was a sexy Regency romance. Lady Jane's guardian has arranged a marriage for her with and old, thrice-widowed man, and she, quite sensibly, IMO, has run off. The guardian asks his younger brother Havyn, who remembers Jane as a teenager with spots (zits, for those of you unacquainted with Regency lingo), to go find her.
He does find her, and she's definitely improved with age. What's more, she begs him to "ruin" her so she won't have to marry the old man.
It's a nice story, particularly if you enjoy the Regency period--it's just a little predictable, also particularly if you enjoy the Regency period. The sex scenes were quite sensual, even though I found the Kama Sutra references to be a little self-conscious.
***** "Code Name: Kiss" by Jeanie Cesarini.
Wow. This novella pushed every one of my buttons: spies, and friends turning into lovers, plus a hefty emotional punch. It was well-written, and I was on pins and needles through the entire story.
And of course, everyone else hated it. I'm seeing a trend.
Lily is a spy, and her mission is to infiltrate a terrorist camp as a sex slave, make contact with a double agent, and through him get close enough to the leader to plant a tracking device on his skin.
Seth is the agent in control of the mission, which he's leading via video feeds back at headquarters. Both Seth and Lily have a thing for each other, but due to their positions, neither has acted on it.
The story alternates chapters between Seth and Lily, keeping track of the mission time, which adds tension. Lily's chapters are in first person and are very deep POV, which is very affecting. Even though Seth's chapters are in third person, his emotional turmoil as he's forced to watch from a distance as the woman he's realized he's in love with has sex with another man is vividly clear.
"Code Name: Kiss" is emotionally wrenching, and better yet, the sex is an integral part of the story.
I was surprised to see in the "about the author" that Jeanie Cesarini = Jeanie London. I guess I'm going to take those recommendations for Jeanie London's books seriously now.
***½ "The Sacrifice" by Kathryn Anne Dubois.
Anastasia is about to become a nun, but she has definite ideas about those vows. She believes that for the vows to truly be meaningful, she has to know what she's giving up. For example, she was raised in a wealthy family, so taking a vow of poverty has meaning. However, she has no knowledge of carnal pleasures, so taking a vow of chastity is, to her mind, meaningless.
So she sets out to change that by going to the castle of the notorious debaucher Count Maxwell. It's a bit of a goofy premise, but I do rather like her reasoning about the meaning of sacrifice.
The first half of the story is sensual and sexy, but then it turns into something else. I found myself irritated that the oddly principled, determined young woman of the first half of the story turned into such a coward in the second half. It ended well, but I didn't quite get over that.
I loved A Lady's Quest, the sizzling historical romantica in Secrets, Volume One, and had looked forward to reading another story by Bonnie Hamre. I picked up Secrets, Volume Ten, when someone told me that Hamre had written another sultry Regency novella. The Ruination of Lady Jane, though not as good as A Lady's Quest, is a delectable reading experience. Lady Jane Ponsonby-Maitland runs away from her ward because she does not want to marry the man he has chosen for her. So her ward sends his gorgeous, adventurous brother to track down and bring back Lady Jane. However, Havyn Attercliffe had not anticipated seeing the once unattractive girl turned into a beautiful, curvaceous woman. When she begs him to ruin her for her fiancé, Havyn cannot refuse. But he gets more than he had bargained for. I loved the precise way the author grasps that particular time setting. I have read many historical novels with blatant anachronism, and this one is more accurate in all accounts. I also love the tantric sex scenes and the different positions the couple experimented with. The heroine did not go from an innocent virgin to a borderline nympho like in many books. The transition is far more subtle and goes well with Jane's insubordinate nature. The Ruination of Lady Jane is my favorite out of the two novellas I read in this anthology. The other novella I read was...
Private Eyes by Dominique Sinclair. Nicolla Black is a PI who specializes in catching cheating husbands. She hadn't anticipated running into a dark, mysterious and gorgeous stranger during one of her stakeouts. The chemistry between them is immediate. As she continues to run into him, she realized she could not resist his dark charms. And then a game of seduction and surrender ensues -- with an interesting mystery plot that captures you until the final page. Based on this novella, Dominique Sinclair is a great author and I will read her other stuff. The sexual tension between the protagonists is so palpable you can almost cut it with a knife. I love when there is intense sexual tension between the two main characters! Sinclair supplies the tension and a whole lot more. I have not read the stories by Jeanie Cesarini and Kathryn Anne Dubois. I shall edit this review when and if I read their stories in the near future. But I do recommend this anthology based on the two novellas I read. I don't know about the other two authors, but the stories by Hamre and Sinclair are worth giving this volume a whirl.
on April 18, 2005
We read Secrets for the same reason men read Penthouse. Both fulfill a purpose; however, we have to accept that neither is great art. We like sex and plenty of kinks, and we got it... sort of.
Private Eyes by Dominique Sinclair
This is workplace sexual harrassment the way we love it. A bit bored, we fantasy about a colleague or client, and in this case, the gloves (and clothes) come off. Pretty tasty, and you can read multiple meanings into that opinion.
The Ruination of Lady Jane Bonnie Hamre
I have a real problem in that the title itself grates on my nerves. This is supposed to be a Victoriana or Regency novel, but the non-word 'Ruination' is a recent gross modernism that has managed to slip its way into a couple of American dictionaries. Indeed, my English classes taught that 'ruination' is an ignorant corruption of 'ruin' with precisely the same meaning. That rant said, the story isn't too bad on other Americanisms and anachronisms and the sex is 5 stars. Hamre's strong suit isn't plot (and obviously not vocabulary), it's good characterizaton and an odd type of morality that is her key combination. If only I didn't have to put up with the bloody title.
Code Name: Kiss by Jeanie Cesarini
Kiss proves we care about plot after all. This is a peculiar story by an obviously talented writer. I don't condemn the setting in this age of terrorism, for it's quite possible that the story might well have been in production and even the publishing pipeline before 9/11. I think what most of us find troubling is the main character's ditzy view of what good spying is. Better she just be a sex slave (hot!) and forget spying (brrr) and we'll all feel safer that way. Sex scenes get 6 stars but plot gets... 1-1/2.
The Sacrifice by Kathryn Anne duBois
I am sure I've read duBois stories before and liked her writing. Certainly, I liked the irreverent (literally) premise of this story, but this Secrets collection gives the impression that the authors are under such pressure to produce that such things as plot, characterization, and accuracy of setting fall by the wayside. Perhaps the writers are busy with other projects, because I catch glimpses of brilliance from the author, but nothing I can satisfactorily get my hands around. I find that I want to encourage the author to make a second attempt at the story, perhaps turning it into a full-length book.
I recall that when I read The Pearl that after a while the stories began to be repetitive, and by the time I trudged into Rice/Rampling's 3rd Beauty book, I was so bored, I couldn't finish it. It must be difficult coming up with new and entertaining erotica with a small stable of authors, and we may be seeing the limits here. Still, as I mentioned in the opening, we buy Secrets as erotic entertainment, not great literature. For the entertainment value, I give it a solid 4 stars.
on July 8, 2007
What I like, is in this series you dont have to read the books in order.
My book store had trouble keeping it in stock, so now I order them via amazon.com.
Again this book did not let me down. Each story is very seductive in its own way. The authors were great.
Hard to put down.
on March 21, 2013
TThis book was received on time. The book looks like brand new on the outside ... the inside had a few loose pages which were in order and did not take away from this purchase.
on August 20, 2013
To be honest, I really couldn't get into this book. I found it kind of BORING! But if it's your "cup of tea", go for it! P.S. you can't beat the price.
on October 24, 2012
I was very happy with the product and time it took. I Would recommend using them again in the future.
on October 14, 2007
I've read with great relish vol. 6 of this series and thought the prevailing trend was hot, erotic fiction- wrong. This book was just one long, boring, desperate attempt to disguise cheap, porn trash as sensual erotisim. That I'm having trouble recalling more than a bad aftertaste isn't good since I read them only a few hours ago.
Ruination of a Lady- the characters had promise for real spice but ended up tiresome, for want of more appropriate word. It had hints of interesting scenes which proceeded to drag. *
The Sacrifice- a medievel period started with it's lips in the dirt and degraded itself lower with every page. glimpses of better writing were shaded into the overall disappointment. The strain of multiple arousal partners at once and throwing in the most idiotic heroine i've suffered to read about. The hero had a serious problem but redeemed himself marginally in the very end. Very steamy and cheap.*
Code Name: Kiss - if not for the cross-cultural connection this would be one fat portrayal of misguided patriotism, as it is there is little to compliment when taking into account the weak sex scenes, character's confusion, and unimaginative ending. The whole story focuses on the heroine 'doing' a guy for her government, with contradicting vibes which saved it from being boring at least. The only scene with her real lover is anemic. The whole thing seemed more of an apology for being stupid and blind. more a spy noval that lost imagination. no star
Private Eyes - The only way to enjoy the self-groping, les/homo influence, and frustated intelligence for a supposed detective, is to have expectations and standards so low there's no where to go but up and then you'll be less inclined to skip the whole sorry excuse of a erotic novella. The heroine is started off with all the right elements of good pose and incentive then morphed into a sex-crazed moron. And deary me, the hero. The only good thing he does is generate relief when rescuing her and you feel very sorry for him. No real relationship basis here at all. no star
Overall a lot of wasted promise. Find an eariler book in the series, one with actual flare and less dirty minds. Erotic romance has some shining authors in Secrets' Anthology don't miss them or disappoint yourself by bothering with this volume. cheers-)
on September 4, 2004
Although I did enjoy this book it was far from the "best" erotica I have read. I'm not sure who rated it the best, but they apparently havent read books like "Bedtime Stories for Women" by Nancy Madore, which is fairy tale stories that have been combined with women's fantasies, or "Hers" which is a series of sensual stories written with women in mind, or even "Forbidden Flowers" which are real fantasies written by the women who dreamed them up. The stories in this book were tepid at best when compared to the books I have mentioned here, which are super sensual and exciting.