The Pleasure Seekers
by Melanie George, historical (2003)
Pocket, $6.99, ISBN 0-7434-4273-3
Melanie George's The Pleasure Seekers is a throwback to the good old days of ridiculously oversexed jerk heroes and heroines whose chests really heave and whose bodice rips way too easily. If Melanie George is a better writer, this book would be so, so good. Then again, if Melanie George is a better writer, her name will be Virginia Henley. While in no way even halfway good, The Pleasure Seekers is nonetheless one of those ridiculously silly books best enjoyed when one is in the mood to just chuckle and laugh at the absurdities of a very campy book.
This book starts off with a silly skanky sex scene between our hero Caine Ballinger, some Earl, and his mistress. The story soon unfurls to show that Caine is in some really sad, sad trouble that may require him to prostitute himself to his nasty mistress. And poor Caine, it's okay to skank for free but when one has to skank for money, oh boo hoo hoo. Meanwhile, our heroine Lady Bliss Ashton is the usual tomboy-and-horse sort that gets verbally abused by our hero in the stable. Of course, this gets her all hot, because a man that insults you is such an exciting change from the milquetoasts of the Ton. Or something. But one can argue that a heroine named Bliss (the equivalent of "Bunny" in today's time, I guess) can't be expected to behave in any way other a bad softporn actress in a worse movie. He wants to seduce her to ruin her as a form of revenge on her father, she doesn't know what she wants, and there they go.
Ms George, without irony, demonizes the Evil Sluts in Caine's life, giving this man such a sad (and contrived) past and all that I just have to laugh at the whole nonsense. The last time I check, it takes two to have sex, and it is ridiculous for the author to tell me that Caine is an Unhappy Slut and all that slutting around is a cry for help. Okay, maybe it is a cry for help, but not one that elicits the Poor Lad, I Sympathize reaction in me like the author hoped. There is nothing more absurd than a privileged playboy whining that his entire lifestyle of sexual and hedonistic excesses is all the fault of everyone else. Am I supposed to assume that the hero is so helpless to discipline himself or to look for a better alternative out of his financial mess? Then again, working and making money the honest way is probably too much work.
So the hero's sad past is a valid excuse, according to this book, for the hero to jump into ridiculous conclusions and verbally insult the heroine every chance he has even as he all but humps at the heroine's leg at the same time. It is also a valid excuse, apparently, to use a dim-witted heroine with a Regency-era softporn actress name to get back at her father.
Anyway, what's done is done. Melanie George may be on to something here. Connie Mason and Diana Palmer can't write forever, after all. One of these days those lovely ladies will retire and buy a villa off the coast of Spain where they will enjoy their days wearing Barbara Cartland Pink bunny slippers and having the time of their life. Melanie George is more than willing to fill in these authors' shoes, if her writing is anything to go by. This book is the first of a series (of course, of course). Diana Palmer and Connie Mason fans, you know what to do.
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