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REVIEW: Forbidden Pleasures by Lora Leigh

Dear Ms. Leigh:

Book CoverMy good friend called me up and said that she wanted me to read your latest release, Forbidden Pleasure. I asked her when the last time it was when she read my blog and she replied that she knew that your writing hadn’t worked well for me in the past, but that I should give this a try, that I might really like it. She talked it up so much that I relented.

John “Mac” McCoy met Keiley and he was gone. He fell in love with her, married her, and took her to his childhood home in North Carolina. Mac took Keiley there to get away from the environment that he had reveled in for the years before, an environment of forbidden sexuality that involved sharing of partners.

Only 3 years into their marriage, the two are having troubles. Mac is becoming increasingly distant and their sex life, once the highlight of their relationship, is strained. Keiley had heard rumors of Mac’s darker sexual desires before she married him, but Mac never evinced any need for a third in their relationship.

Keiley was intensely curious, though, as to what drove a man like Mac to desire such a different lifestyle. She was curious and afraid, both of her own response and of what that would do to their relationship. She begins to question Mac about his past and he sees that as a sign to bring Jethro Rigg, his best friend, and previous partner, into the picture.

Jethro had always had a thing for Keiley. He met her first but felt that he wasn’t the right man for her and set her up with Mac. But giving ground to Mac was done with the belief that someday Jethro would have an opportunity to be part of the relationship. Over time, though, it appeared that Jethro as wrong and he would have to resign himself to a different lifestyle. Just when he had given up hope, Mac’s summons came through. Keiley is faced with her husband’s darkest secrets which just might ruin her life.

If the book had focused solely on the relationship; the romance; the menage dynamics, it would have been more moving. The trouble is there is an absurd suspense plot included with a few toss away scenes involving townspeople and gossip which seemed completely unbelievable. Each time I left the home that contained the emotional center of the story, I was jarred and distracted by uneven pacing, forced dialogue, and crude characterizations.

When you are writing about the nucleus and the menage dynamics, the story is at its best. All the right questions were asked and answered. Keiley wondered whether Mac truly loved her, for if he did, how could he possibly share her with another man. She began to question herself, her own morality, her capacity for love. She wonders how she can love two men and if she does allow herself to love two men, will one of them leave her?

The explanation for Jethro and Mac’s devotion to the “sharing” lifestyle was rooted in their childhood. Jethro and Mac saw themselves as somewhat damaged by their childhoods; that each one had relied so much on the other for survival that they almost were one person.

I was moved by the story of the three: Mac, Keiley and Jethro. I believed that they were better off as a threesome than they were as separate units. The psychological issues underpinning a menage were strongly explored in a manner I’ve not yet read in other books. I’m not sorry I read it. I debated heavily about the grade given that there were portions of the book that made me roll my eyes and sigh. But there were portions of the book were I was captivated. I think that a B- is about right.

Best regards

Jane

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

14 Comments

  1. Teddy Pig
    Jun 09, 2007 @ 07:23:46

    Hold on I have read this here Lora Leigh before.

    Oh yeah, Men of August (I guess you could call it) a “menage series” that was also a bit formula but pretty good till the last book where all the couples decided to live in separate homes because group sex and kids do not go together so the ladies fixed their mens deep seated psychological problems (used to explain the brotherly wife love) with their magic hoo-hoos or something and… hey I did not buy that either. I just read the books I can’t always explain them.

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  2. Jayne
    Jun 09, 2007 @ 08:13:55

    He fell in love with her, married her, and took her to his childhood home in North Carolina. Mac took Keiley there to get away from the environment that he had reveled in for the years before, an environment of forbidden sexuality that involved sharing of partners.

    [sarcasm] So where did he live before he brought Keiley back to the wholesome purity of NC where we don’t do things like group sex? Yep, once you cross the state line into the Old North State you better put all thoughts of anything but missionary position involving only a husband and wife right out of your head. [/sarcasm] :0

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  3. Barbara B.
    Jun 09, 2007 @ 08:20:27

    “The trouble is there is an absurd suspense plot included with a few toss away scenes involving townspeople and gossip which seemed completely unbelievable. ”

    This is the problem I have with most of Leigh’s book, particularly the freak show that was the August Brothers series. The dysfunctional relationship dynamics seem to be more than enough, why add in some silly suspense element? Actually this is a problem I have with a lot of half-assed romantic suspense. The suspense elements seem just added in, not a driving force of the story. The suspense is very clumsy and not at all suspenseful. Lora Leigh writes interesting sex scenes, but she’s not much of a romantic suspense writer.

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  4. Bev Stephans
    Jun 09, 2007 @ 08:51:46

    I agree with your summation of the book. This has been a problem with a lot of Lora Leigh’s books. Probably the best romantic book she has written is “Loving Lies” published by Samhain. Yes, there is a lot of sex but the love story is great. I highly recommend it.

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  5. Teddy Pig
    Jun 09, 2007 @ 11:00:51

    “you better put all thoughts of anything but missionary position involving only a husband and wife right out of your head.”

    HAH! Jayne you hit it on the head with Lora Leigh.
    She uses all the sexual gymnastics (anal, manage) but by the end of the series or the book they have to be back in “missionary position” or HVEA

    Happily Vanilla Ever After

    Even if there was a ton of justification for whatever is happening before that.

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  6. Karen Scott
    Jun 09, 2007 @ 11:35:56

    I agree about the suspense, but I pretty much liked everything else about the book. I even dig the cover.

    And I loved Men of August, slightly squicky storyline aside, but then I am a fangirl. *g*

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  7. Tara Marie
    Jun 09, 2007 @ 17:24:59

    I’m almost convinced I should give this one a try. Which is amazing because unlike Karen I absolutely hated the Men of August series.

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  8. Sarah Frantz
    Jun 09, 2007 @ 17:59:26

    Teddy, in this one, they’re still a menage at the end. It’s Emma Holly who pisses me off with the HVEA, every single time. Although I haven’t read her new stuff because I just can’t be bothered, so I’m not so sure about that for those.

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  9. Jane
    Jun 09, 2007 @ 18:16:25

    Teddy – as Dr. S says, they are a unit at the end. The whole arc of the romance is Keiley accepting the idea of being “married” to two men and having that be acceptable in the small town in North Carolina. Jayne probably knows many of those types of couples down yonder. ;)

    TM – I was squicked out by the Men of August series and this is much better, in my opinion, because the emotional aspect wasn’t really rooted in sexual abuse making the subsequent actions seem like a justification for some kind of perversion.

    I did struggle with the grade between a B- and C+ but I felt that the emotional component was strong enough to carry this into low B territory. It’s definitely a hot read and having read plenty of erotic romance, writing hot sex scenes is a difficult task.

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  10. TeddyPig
    Jun 09, 2007 @ 18:54:33

    Well at least not in Wilmington Heaven Forbid! We’re right proper. Now Charlotte sure, they are all going to hell.

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  11. Rai
    Jun 09, 2007 @ 21:46:35

    I read Ms. Leigh’s Megan’s Mark not too long ago, I had previously read one of her short stories in an ellora’s cave anthology and enjoyed it. So I figured, hey why not? It was a complete dissapointment. I’m all for great sex, and kick ass women, but her action writing leaves something to be desired. IMO Ms. Leigh should stick to erotica and romance. She has a great hand at creating hot love scenes and good interaction between her leads. Her world building, I find is hollow and flimsy.

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  12. bam
    Jun 10, 2007 @ 01:46:05

    The explanation for Jethro and Mac's devotion to the “sharing� lifestyle was rooted in their childhood. Jethro and Mac saw themselves as somewhat damaged by their childhoods; that each one had relied so much on the other for survival that they almost were one person.

    wasn’t that the reason the brothers in the Men of August series were sharing their women?

    ETA: Oops… looks like everyone and her sister already mentioned it.

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  13. Sybil
    Jun 10, 2007 @ 11:42:50

    Like Karen I liked the Men of August although I had issues with it. And a big reason is the sexual abuse reason for the sharing. I think it is unfair to compare the two books because they aren’t the same. I was very happy to see August men cut from the end of Nauti Boy.

    The NC thing was more returning to his home town not that is it a great better place where bad things don’t happen. Although I could be wrong it has been a bit since I read this the fact was his club wasn’t there. And he was removing himself from that club and a lifestyle his wife wasn’t going to be apart of. Something I really liked here vs the normal ‘this is me, you want to love me you need to be apart of this or no go’ typical erotic romance we see from LL.

    I have read a hella lot of leigh and I can’t say I have noticed that NC is seen as the clean, good non-sexual only missionary sex state maybe Jayne knows something I don’t. Of course I haven’t noticed that all LL end with a HVEA missionary sex life so what do I know.

    LL is one of those writers I think people either really like or really love to hate. Who knows… I think Dangerous Games is the book with more of mass appeal for a ‘general’ romance reader.

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  14. raspberry swyrl
    Jun 11, 2007 @ 11:07:23

    I’ve always liked Lora Leigh as an erotic writer and yes I agree with the issues people had with her Men of August series but I still didn’t mind the series. I’m looking forward to this one, since it has gotten some fairly positive reviews.

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