Victoria married young, at 18, to a powerful and rich man, Stewart Harrington. Their marriage came with a contract which spelled out Stewart’s most private desires of his young wife. Now, 10 years later, Victoria is a very different woman and she’s very much tired of Stewart’s desires.
I listened to this book as part of a group read and I had a lot of fun with the discussion over this book. However, it won’t be ending up in my Favorites pile. I’ve seen it listed as an erotic thriller, and while the erotic scenes are definitely there, the thriller part is kind of missing. For the first half of the book, we’re just learning the characters and the landscape of things. Victoria, while not forced into the marriage with the much older (but still fit) Stewart, she was placed in a tough situation back when she was 18. The story is told mostly in the present (10 years into their marriage) with flashbacks to their early days together. The second half of the story is where things finally start to move along, some secrets are revealed, and Victoria starts to strike back. So, I would say this is more erotic suspense than thriller.
I liked some things about Victoria. She’s genuine in that we get to ride around in her head. So even when she’s smiling and pretending all is OK, us readers know that she is not satisfied with the situation. She does tend to strike out emotionally. There’s not much in the way of plotting or planning or being cunning. She makes a snap decision and follows through on it and when the chips land and she has another problem, she approaches it the same way.
The situation young Victoria was placed in was a tough one, but she still had choices. She chose to marry, which honestly didn’t seem so bad at the time, and then decided to stay in the marriage for the last 10 years, even tho there are ways out of the marriage and the contract. And that’s one thing I didn’t like about the book – Victoria never takes ownership of her choices (albeit tough ones) that kept her in a marriage and a contract that she came to despise. None of the other characters point that out to her either and I really felt that should have been mentioned somewhere in the book.
The sex scenes were written well. Young Victoria definitely has an interest in Stewart at the beginning of their marriage and there was some steamy scenes between the two of them. 10 years down the road, there are some steamy scenes with Victoria and someone else. Then there are the scenes where, according to the contract, Victoria is carrying out sexual acts that don’t do anything for her at all. These are especially written well, showing us readers how little Victoria gets out them, how her body doesn’t respond to the other person involved, and how she locks herself away doing her best to just go through the motions and not be mentally present.
There’s secrets surrounding Victoria’s conception that are merely hinted at for the first half of the book. We finally get some answers in the second half and it almost is enough to explain Stewart’s marriage offer when shew as 18. I felt it was a bit of a weak plot point. As Victoria learns more of her family history, the author tossed in some accidental incest which I felt didn’t add much to the plot. Perhaps she needs both these things for a sequel?
Once Victoria finally gets around to taking action, she uses two very specific things. I’m positive one leaves a specific signature, of sorts, and perhaps the second as well and yet the medical community never flags the bodies for investigation. That is another reason I didn’t think of this as a thriller – the main character didn’t have to work particularly hard to cover her tracks nor does she have to contend with the authorities.
Some people have felt the ending was a cliff hanger but I felt it was good. It’s obvious to me what the next few scenes would have been and I didn’t feel that I needed them spelled out. Over all, the book held intrigue for me. I did enjoy the way the sex scenes were used and I liked that we spent most of our time in Victoria’s head. Miami is mentioned as the location, but we never get a flavor of Miami at all. The men are so-so for me. Brody was too needy. Travis said some truths but hid some others. All want to use her and Victoria kept forgetting that lesson, having to relearn it over and over again. I did feel there was plenty of room for development of characters and setting, and that went underutilized.
The Narration: Savannah Richards did a very good job with this book. It was pretty amazing how she could switch back and forth between younger, somewhat innocent 18-year-old Victoria, and the jaded bitter, angry, cussing Victoria of present day. Her male character voices had masculinity and each was easy to distinguish from the other. She was great with the sex scenes, showing no hesitancy on intimate words.