The couple at the center of the story are Sara and Lord Valentin Sokorvsky. Valentin arrives at Sara’s father’s house, with the purpose of wooing one of the younger daughters. In her 20s, Sara is already past her prime and content to be a spinster aunt (her term not mine). She is smart and outspoken at a time when such adjectives would not be considered a compliment when applied to a woman. Valentin rather likes Sara’s boldness and they are quickly married. Once Sara and Valentin get together the story shifts gears. A couple of plot threads arose, none of which held that much tension. The main thread concerns Valentin's past and his reluctance to tell Sara about it. Readers already know all about Valentin’s past before the first page because it is revealed in every description of the book one might come across. When Valentin was young he and his friend Peter were kidnapped, sold into slavery, and forced to work in a Turkish brothel. The boys were eventually rescued and as one might imagine, carry certain emotional and physical scars from their experience. Sara is aware that her husband was kidnapped as a child but doesn't know the details of his experience. Another thread concerns Valentin's business. In the year following their rescue Valentin and Peter started a successful business. Now someone is out to ruin them by spreading rumors about their past. Lastly, there is still lingering tension between Valentin and his father who didn't exactly welcome his son back with open arms when Valentin returned to London. This all seems like it would make for a complicated, serious, but sexy story. It doesn't. At least, it isn’t all that complicated or serious, but then I suppose complicated and serious is not what one expects to find in a book whose title is Simply Sexual.
I am not entirely sure how to rate or what to think of this book. In a typical romance novel the central tension is whether, or really when, the main couple will come to the realization that they are meant to live happily ever after together. There is often some sort of obstacle that keeps them apart, but eventually they figure it out and push those obstacles out of the way. Here Sara and Valentin were celebrating on their honeymoon by page 50. With still 200 pages to go I wondered where this story could possibly go from there. The answer was not very far, at least in terms of plot, but then plot isn’t usually what one looks for in a romance, right?
So without a plot, what else is there? I read a post on another blog awhile back that asked what was more important: plot, character, style or theme. My answer in part was that in depends on the type of book. Romances, at least the ones I’ve read, usually follow an established pattern so plot isn’t usually the main draw. Instead, romance is all about the characters and perhaps the writing style. In terms of character development, Sara and Valentin learn to trust each other but otherwise don’t change all that much between the first page and the last page. The writing style was fine.
I can't recommend this to everyone. You have to understand what you're getting into when you pick this up. It is clearly intended for adults who have an open mind. Consider yourself warned.