by Beth Kery, historical (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-59998-929-8
Take A Stranger No More is an unapologetically smutty short story that is more enjoyable if one isn't taking it too seriously. It's set in England in 1899, but we also have our hero Maximilian St Claire who, following the family tradition, serves as a sex slave of sorts where he and his servant/buddy Audie Sinclair service the women who visit them. Don't ask. Just think of that as a set-up designed solely to get the whole voyeuristic aspect of the story going.
Our heroine, Kit Chevalier, has loved Max since she was six. Since six months or so ago, Audie has been letting her spy on Max and Audie shagging women after women, which is how Kit knows that Max has a crush on her mother. Oh, and Audie has a thing for Max, of course, since two hot guys can't really coexist in the same book nowadays without wanting to check out each other's private parts.
When this story begins, Max is now Kit's guardian and Kit decides that it's time that she and Max get to know each other better. Max, however, is determined to see that Kit remains a virgin until he marries her off. With some cooperation from Audie, Kit decides to seduce Max and show him who the boss in the house is.
This is my favorite part of the whole story:
Max nodded his head slowly. "So instead of seeing to your assigned duties, you were busy seducing a delivery boy. After which you saw fit to seduce my ward."
"I never touched her except with the spoon, Max."
The love scenes here involve three as well as two people and I especially love how the author blatantly inserts a gratuitous male-male sex scene involving Audie and a delivery boy (referenced in the above excerpt) just so that the heroine - and the reader - can read and go "Ooh!" over it. Max can be a silly boy here, true, with his belief that he is somehow not good enough for Kit, but he is more than adequate as the beefcake hero. With the superficial characters and the emphasis on the sex scenes in this story, Max is an acceptable hero in a "Who cares what he thinks - you think I want to talk to him?" way. Kit knows what she wants, and I like that aspect of her, while I can only wish that the author has given Audie a different last name. I mean, Sinclair and St Claire?
If you approach Take A Stranger No More knowing that you will get a bawdy and naughty erotic romp with some lip service given to romance as icing on the cake, you may have a pretty good time with it like I did. If you are expecting a romance, however, you may not appreciate how good things in this story tend to come in three rather in two. Adjust your expectations accordingly, that's all I can say.
Search for more reviews of works by this author: