Forbidden Pleasures
by Bertrice Small, contemporary (2006)
NAL, $14.00, ISBN 0-451-21850-7

Forbidden Pleasures reprises the Channel, the reality sex thing first introduced in the author's contemporary romance debut Private Pleasures. This book seems the author getting more comfortable in her contemporary voice in the sense that the laughable purple prose isn't as prevalent here as it was in the previous book. However, the author still utilizes some of the more embarrassing contemporary romance clichés around, most of these predictably revolving around the heroine.

Emily Shann is a romance author. If you know your stereotypes, you're probably right now going, "Aha! This means Emily must be some thirty year old virgin whose behavior indicates that her parents probably locked her in a basement and cut her off from human contact in her first twenty years of living." And you will be right on the money if you do. And to think some people wonder why romance authors don't get any respect. Just look at how they view themselves in their own stories!

Emily is told by her editor that her books need to be spicier, more erotic, and hotter in order to keep up with the money trail. However, with Emily being a virgin, she decides that she has no way of spicing up her love scenes unless she gets some hands-on experience when it comes to sex. Luckily for her, her editor Michael Devlin is hot stuff. There is also the Channel willing to let Emily explore things like threesomes and sodomy. Emily is soon eager to turn her fantasies in the Channel into reality with Michael who she is already sleeping with at that time. But can they find a happy ending when it's soon apparent that there is no small misunderstanding problems that they don't stumble upon in this story?

Forbidden Pleasures may be a romance, but Emily indulges in some virtual reality sex with other characters in various sexual situations here so if you really don't like erotic scenes that involve the main characters with other people, this book isn't for you. If you want a story with some substantial plot, this one isn't for you as well. Most of this book comprise sex scenes that Emily will later use to spice up her book The Defiant Duchess with great success.

Because the author has stripped down most of the purple prose that makes her previous effort so laughable, Forbidden Pleasures is actually a pretty decent story for this author. However, the characters are too dim-witted for my liking and Emily, especially, is an embarrassing heroine as she has the intellectual and emotional capacity of a child. If this book costs, say, $6.99 or $7.99, I'd actually say that I think Forbidden Pleasures actually has better love scenes, purple prose aside, compared to many erotic romance offerings out there from electronic publishers. But at $14.00, I'd say this is something you're better off getting from the library or a friend.

Rating: 68

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