You know that Alanis Morissette song? The one you never liked but they played forever? The one that made “going down on him in a theater” sound like an even worse idea than it did before? (Honestly, did you hear her wail about public sex as anything but a mark of desperation?) It’s back and it’s moved to London. I won’t tell you which book it takes place in, but given that the other trots out the equally tired canard of the heroine only being able to relax enough for orgasm if she’s bound to the bed, I am a bit afraid what book three will bring. Would a long series be forced to explore autoerotic asphyxiation?
That’s my hesitation with The Real Duchesses of London. The premise of novellas based on the love lives and cat fights of a group of women is delightful. In fact, an moment in Linnette, The Lioness is one of the best scenes I’ve read in ages. The romantic conflicts are equally satisfying. The concept of their fame is a bit underdeveloped, I could see them having more street recognition, but still very engaging. For the price, they’re a good length as well. Much as I enjoyed them, the sex seemed a bit forced by the end of Episode 2, as though part of the formula is for each heroine to have her own sex twist. I’d rather have cut out half the sex and doubled up on the cat fights. Reading about one of the heroines being proud of her accomplishment (ie, swallowing) made me roll my eyes. That may just be me but if it’s you too, be aware.
All of that said, I’d still recommend both. I did enjoy the twisted tale of friendship between the women and would have bought the third book immediately upon closing the second. While not perfectly sublime reads, they are original and fun. A great length for a lunchtime read and a good introduction to the author. In episode one, Kathryn is dealing with the aftermath of a miscarriage and her husband’s loss of sexual interest since the event. For Lavinia, the problem is one of emotional interest. The return of her childhood love leaves her wondering if trust can be renewed.
For romance, I’d give the nod to Episode One. For catty enjoyment, I’d have to go with Episode Two. Either way, I don’t think you’ll go far wrong. (Just skip the theater that night, because at least one of them Oughta Know)