by Ann Vremont, historical (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-59998-183-1
Sacred Heart Diaries is a thematic collection of naughty short stories set in the late 18th century. Sacred Heart is an isolated convent in which our impoverished but enterprising 18-year old Candacis Vremont decides to send stories of the amorous and carnal adventures of her fellow Sacred Heart inhabitants to her cousin Philipe for publication. Supposedly she wants the world to know that women are capable of taking part in hornytoad adventures, blah blah highbrow blah-blah'isms, which is why, of course, I am reading this book, to enlighten myself that I too should break down the hypocrisy of society, et cetera. Oh, and the stories are pretty hot too, which makes the chore of enlightening myself about the true nature of humanity and what-not more edifying.
Beatrice is a truly down and dirty story that, were I a thirteen-year old girl chancing upon this book, would have made me squeal in delighted terror at some of the truly filthy and oh-so-delicious amoral shenanigans going on here. The young lady of the house, Beatrice, pretty much seduces the groom who is ordered by her mother to punish her, right under the nose of the groom's wife (a maid of the house) and Beatrice delights in getting Louis to rut on her even as his wife is just downstairs cleaning the place up. Beatrice is such a sociopathic amoral bitch who only cares about her pleasures that she has my complete and utter respect. I have to hand it to Ms Vremont: she has all kinds of spankings and whippings going on here but instead of making me wince, she actually makes those scenes so scorchingly hot and sensual in a raw and primal manner.
Gabrielle always has a crush on the brother of a young woman she's taken pains to befriend just to get close to him and now he's consented to meeting her in a masquerade. Gabrielle ends up getting you-know-what and now she's stuck in a waiting game as she waits for Sebastian to ask her father for her hand in marriage. She has promised Sebastian not to ask her father whether the man has asked for her hand in marriage, you see, so all the
stupid poor innocent girl can do is to wait and guess. I'm sure you can guess the nature of the twist that is to come - those two do all kinds of things with their masks on, after all - but the actual nature of the twist make me go "Yeesh!" in a shocked -yet-delighted manner because... well, yeesh indeed. Ms Vremont is really aiming for the low-down dirty here and she's not pulling back any punches. I like it, and the twist is deliciously dirty even as the love scenes are hot. Shame about the silly Gabrielle, but hey, stupid girls deserve love too, I guess, so I'll just be nice here and let her be. Besides, that fellow is so arrogant, so masterful, so sexual, so ruthless, and so domineering, if I were Gabrielle my own brain cells will probably melt in his presence and I'll fall into a stupid-girl swoon myself. Maybe I shouldn't be so hard on Gabrielle.
Dear Lucille has the hots for a priest named André. By this point I'm starting to really feel as if I'm reading something really naughty which I shouldn't if I know what is good for my wholesome and virtuous soul. Soon I begin to imagine that stern Sister Margaret back in my old Catholic school frowning at me for reading such a wicked story. Then I also remember that hot Brother Francis that I had a teenage crush on and, er, quickly get back to reading. Although on the unlikely possibility that dear Brother Francis is reading this, I will state on record that I never harbored such lascivious thoughts as Lucille does when she kneels before André during service and opens her mouth to receive the holy wafer so it's still okay to invite me over for Christmas. Lucille sends André the Hot Priest her letters detailing her holy wafer fantasies - which is why this book should be kept out of the hands of impressionable young girls in Catholic schools, I tell you - but alas, I fear that André ultimately doesn't have the moral fibre to withstand temptation from the forces of darkness. Therefore, since he's going to burn in hell for all eternity anyway, I can in clear conscience enjoy every dirty and nasty filthy things taking place in this story.
Veronique realizes that the artist she poses for has been drawing naughty pictures of her, which causes her to see him in a new light. Veronique is a very naughty young lady too confident in her own invulnerability and her story is that of her downfall. I find the sex scenes in this one a little bit on the dull side since the premise is disappointingly conventional after the previous three stories but I'd love to see that haughty Veronique come back to take revenge on everybody.
Candacis' own story is her affair with her convent roommate AnneMarie. AnneMarie seduces her during a bath and these two have plenty of Sapphic fun. Unfortunately, AnneMarie learns that she is to marry an English nobleman, which causes Candacis to lash out in a very subtle form of violence that shocks and delights me. I don't read too many lesbian erotica and I must say I haven't come across one where there is power struggle for domination and dark undercurrents like this one. While I find the sex scenes well-written and sensual, I find Candacis' action towards the end of the story the most intriguing aspect of this story. Her quiet anger is, dare I say it, quite sexy to behold actually, as sexy as it is heartbreaking.
Candacis' own story ends the first half of Sacred Heart Diaries. The second half shifts the focus from the sociopathic underage temptresses of Sacred Heart to Candacis' cousin Philipe. He plots revenge on Candacis' behalf on AnneMarie and her new husband, Lord Bainsworth. Traveling to England and gaining an audience with Bainsworth under false pretenses, he ends up falling for AnneMarie. Oopsie. Oh, I love this one. It's so twisted, violent, sick, and politically incorrect, but unlike a Rosemary Rogers encore, this one is a twisted kind of romance that actually makes sense. It helps that AnneMarie is no victim in the dysfunctional relationship - she and Philipe are both equally screwed-up and this is their courtship rather than a ritual of her humiliation.
Next is Veronique's story of what happens after her previous appearance. I can't explain much about Veronique & Daniel without spoiling the previous related story so I won't do that here. But this is the longest story of the ones here and the weakest one as well in my opinion. The whole spy thing feels way out of place compared to the rest of the stories. While Ms Vremont brings up love, I actually find the love in this story less believable than in, say, Gabrielle because Daniel is easily the least interesting male character in this story and he spends too long hiding his feelings from Veronique or treating her coldly. There are threesome scenes in this story but I find them rather awkward and stilted in an overly-choreographed manner - Ms Vremont seems more at home writing scenes for two here. It's a pity that I find this story not interesting enough to warrant its length. I'm hoping for more naughty underage young ladies and not this tedious Sweet Savage Love wannabe.
Still, as much as that last overlong and boring tale puts a damper on my mood, the first half of Sacred Heart Diaries is pure fabulous dirty stuff that both puts the fear of God in me and makes me giggle and fan myself because I feel like such a naughty person to be reading smut that is this fun and wicked. If Ms Vremont has cut down on the tedious Veronique drama and introduces more naughty nymphomaniac girls, Sacred Heart Diaries will be... well, much better than it already is.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
Search for more reviews of works by this author: