When I began seeing the reviews for Improper Relations by Juliana Ross cropping up in the blog-o-sphere, my first thought was “Yowza! What a great cover!” Historical romance, even those with an erotic element, are often reduced to the back shot of the unlaced dress (which often barely reflects the time period accurately *inelegant snort*), so it’s delightful to see a racy cover for this novella set in the Victorian era.
Hannah is a widow reduced by circumstances to being the lady’s companion for her demanding relative. Dressed in plain clothes and an unflattering hairstyle by her employer, she’s attempted to be a proper and invisible woman rather than lose her job. Hannah has tried to ignore Leo, her very distant relative and her employer’s roguish son, but when she accidentally witnesses him receiving oral sex and bending the chambermaid over the table to pleasure her from behind, Hannah’s eyes are opened. Her late husband didn’t do ANYTHING like that and she’s incredulous that the maid seemed to take such pleasure in both acts.
Before she can sneak out, Leo let’s on that he knows she’s there…and knew the whole time he was copulating with the maidservant. Never really noticing her before, he’s impressed she’s not having hysterics but rather seems curious and intrigued by what she witnessed. He offers to show her some of details left out of her sexual education by her deceased husband. Since Leo had mumps as a child, he was left sterile and is rather a hit with the ladies of all stations because of it. His loss can be Hannah’s gain, in this case.
When I began reading, I was a little nervous because the book is in Hannah’s voice alone and I really prefer two points of view for my romance novels. After a chapter or two, I bought in hook, line and sinker. Hannah’s voice is a clear, engaging one and it was clear from her descriptions of Leo’s behavior how much he was smitten with her, even when she didn’t realize it. In actuality, the first person account gave a strong authenticity to the Victorian nature of the tale and definitely helped emphasize the moral code and social strictures of the time.
The happily ever after is FABULOUS – so romantic! – I was ready to go out and marry Leo myself. A novella of about 58 pages, this book is a tasty treat (and a highly affordable one in the $2 range) for anyone with an interest in historical erotic romance. Enjoy!