by Philippa Grey-Gerou, historical (2007)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 1-59578-314-8
Philippa Grey-Gerou's The Sanctity Of Marriage is a historical romance set in 1872 Manhattan. Be warned that this isn't a typical historical romance because three people are involved instead of the more conventional two.
Spinster Sarah Adams has never left Fairfield until now, when she comes to Manhattan as a chaperone for her cousin Daphne on sixteen-year old Daphne's debut. During the social whirl, Sarah is introduced by her brother-in-law to Matthew Ingram, a very rich man who makes his fortune in timber. For some reason Matthew presses his attention on Sarah until poor Sarah is so flattered by his attentions that she consents to marry him. When she discovers him in the stable shagging his friend Jason Sinclair, the anvil begins to drop. She knows that the marriage is one of convenience so that Matthew can get the children he wants and she the security she won't have otherwise, but now she understands why her sex life with Matthew is so lackluster. He likes guys! And heavens, she realizes that she likes watching them go at it! The next time those two guys decide to go "horse riding" (snigger), she can't sneak off to spy on them fast enough. Imagine Matthew's shock when his mousy and shy wife comes to him one morning and announces that not only does she know what he and Jason are doing together, she wants to watch. Openly, not sneakily.
Sarah starts out a mousy doormat type but she blossoms considerably as the story progresses into a more sexual creature who increasingly becomes more secure about her sexuality. I'm not so sure about Jason though, his metamorphosis from petulant emo boy to a more benign pretty boy seems too abrupt to be convincing to me. Matthew is an ass for a big part of the story and I have no good idea as to why he is apparently so adamant on not showing Sarah that he's attracted to her to the point that even Jason points out that he's being an abominable ass to his own wife. Come to think of it, apart from his physical attractiveness, I don't know what Matthew has to draw Jason and Sarah to him. He's often a thoughtless boor who just happens to give his lovers great orgasms because the author says so and certainly not because he's this selfless Romeo intent on pleasuring his lovers and all. The failing of this story is Matthew. I don't see what the big deal is about him.
I can understand why Jason will fall for Sarah since she does come alive very nicely in this story and since he's turned into a pretty nice guy himself, I can understand Sarah's attraction to him as well. I'm at loss to describe why Jason and Sarah won't leave Matthew and set up home together. Or, at the very least, keep Matthew but make him clean the house while wearing a maid's uniform as well as use him as their sex toy because Matthew really deserves to be spanked hard for being such a silly boy in this story.
What this book delivers, especially considering its deceptively tame traditional Regency-like cover, are some surprisingly erotic love scenes. For me, I find that scene of Sarah flying solo while playing the voyeur for the first time the most erotic one of the bunch but the rest of the male-male, male-female, and threesome scenes are very sensual as well. Check out the scene where the two men have a go at Sarah at the same time while you're at it. Phew!
I personally feel that The Sanctity Of Marriage is a more effective ménage à trois erotica rather than a romantic drama since the characterizations of Jason, Sarah, and Matthew are somewhat two-dimensional but not enough to make them particularly memorable or well-drawn. It's a pretty entertaining story but more for the sensuality than the drama. Depending on what you are looking for in your story, this one will either work like a charm or fall under your "What on earth...?" category. Just be aware of what you will be getting when you open this book and you'll be fine.
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