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REVIEW: Lust Ever After by Rose de Fer

Dear Ms. de Fer:

I’m not sure what I expected when I requested this erotic novella; the blurb I read intrigued me, though:

London, 1881. The brilliant Dr Frankenstein has a thriving practice in the city, treating ladies for ‘hysteria’ and seducing them along the way. Through his pretty chambermaid, Justine, he spies the perfect opportunity to create what he has always dreamt of – a truly liberated woman. When Justine wakes in the laboratory she has no memory of her former life. All she knows is that she has a ravenous sensual appetite and she will let nothing stand in the way of her desires, least of all Frankenstein. Soon Justine finds herself drawn into a world of forbidden delights, first with her female friends, and then with a mysterious young man named William, with whom she feels a strange and unearthly bond. An unbreakable connection that her creator will do anything to destroy.

 Lust Ever After by Rose de FerNow, I’m a big fan of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. One of the things that drew me to the blurb was the mention of Justine, who in the original book is a hapless maid executed for the murder of Dr. Frankenstein’s brother, William, a murder Dr. Frankenstein knows his creation committed. Though she’s a very small part of the original book, I always thought her a particular poignant character, one of many people who are the collateral damage of Frankenstein’s experiments (and even moreso, his later refusal to take responsibility for his actions).

So, while a part of me was going, “Erotica based on Frankenstein? How about no?”, another part was curious about how Justine (and less so William) would be integrated into this story.

As it turned out, they weren’t – the names are used, and the Justine of both stories is a maid, but that’s about it. What Lust Ever After ends up being is pretty straightforward historical erotica with some intriguing elements that aren’t ever fleshed out (no pun intended).

I’m not sure how much of the plot to recap (I don’t generally review novellas) so I think I’ll err on the side of caution and just reiterate what the blurb says, more or less: Dr. Frankenstein is based in London; he’s built a big machine called the “Alleviator” used to treat women who come to him with complaints of hysteria. The book opens with a salacious demonstration in front of a group of (male, natch) medical students, using a young bookseller’s daughter, Daisy, as the subject. Frankenstein, who’s a horny arrogant prick (unlike the whiny arrogant prick of the Shelley book) plans to seduce both Daisy and Justine, who works as his maid, in good time. It turns out that Daisy doesn’t swing that way, and more’s the pity, Justine drowns herself in a river (in despair over being thrown over by her beau) before Frankenstein can get his hands on her. But it occurs to him that this is the perfect opportunity – a stormy, lightning-filled night – to try again to create “life”, an experiment that he’d tried once before but which met with unspecified failure. So Justine is not a homunculus of the old-school variety, cobbled together from bits and pieces of corpses (which presumably wouldn’t be very sexy, though I wouldn’t put it past some author, in a rule-34-of-the-internet kind of way); rather, she’s just your garden-variety dead-girl-brought-back-to-life. Except for a few minor details: she’s lost her memory, she’s fairly impervious to cold and pain, and she’s super-horny all of the time. Hmm, I don’t remember that in the original book. Anyway, Frankenstein soon discovers that he can’t control his “creation” quite the way he’d hoped to, and meanwhile Justine is off, um, alleviating herself with Daisy, Dr. Frankenstein’s clients (which lessens their need for his services), and eventually the not-very-mysterious-William.

There are hints of a more complex story here, touching (very lightly) on the themes of the original Frankenstein, the always-intriguing birth of the vibrator industry, and Dr. Frankenstein’s not-entirely-sincere desire for a “liberated” woman. But at 116 pages, there just isn’t enough room to really delve too deeply into that, especially when you consider that this is erotica after all, and a fair amount of the scenes involve people getting it on. (Not to say that sex scenes can’t help develop the themes of a plot or move a story forward, but I think it’s harder to do and I don’t think this book does it.) The sex is fairly hot, though….I guess kind of vanilla? I don’t know; I think what’s considered “vanilla” has evolved somewhat. Or maybe I just don’t read enough erotica to really judge where this falls on the spectrum. But I did think the sex was well-done.

My grade for Lust Ever After is a C+, which translated to a sort of qualified “meh.” It’s not a bad way to spend an hour, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to read it, either.

Best regards,

Jennie

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has been an avid if often frustrated romance reader for the past 15 years. In that time she's read a lot of good romances, a few great ones, and, unfortunately, a whole lot of dreck. Many of her favorite authors (Ivory, Kinsale, Gaffney, Williamson, Ibbotson) have moved onto other genres or produce new books only rarely, so she's had to expand her horizons a bit. Newer authors she enjoys include Julie Ann Long, Megan Hart and J.R. Ward, and she eagerly anticipates each new Sookie Stackhouse novel. Strong prose and characterization go a long way with her, though if they are combined with an unusual plot or setting, all the better. When she's not reading romance she can usually be found reading historical non-fiction.

13 Comments

  1. Isobel Carr
    Jun 26, 2012 @ 14:31:44

    She’s impervious to cold and pain, but capable of feeling pleasure? Um, just how does that work?

  2. Jenny
    Jun 26, 2012 @ 14:37:19

    They had panties like that in 1881?

  3. DS
    Jun 26, 2012 @ 15:02:22

    So why London? 1881? Is this THE Dr. Frankenstein or just someone with the same name who is also interested in revivifying corpses?

  4. Isobel Carr
    Jun 26, 2012 @ 15:38:24

    @DS: Because when you swap 1818 around you can make 1881?

  5. Dabney
    Jun 26, 2012 @ 16:34:58

    “the always-intriguing birth of the vibrator industry”

    See, this book holds no charm for me at all, but, oh I’d love the cut and pasted pages on this subject. Actually, I should just go read Bonk again.

  6. Jennie
    Jun 26, 2012 @ 23:20:25

    @Jenny: Maybe they shopped at Queen Victoria’s Secret?

  7. Jennie
    Jun 26, 2012 @ 23:24:39

    @Dabney: I loved Bonk. Yeah, it’s disappointing because there was interesting material that really couldn’t be covered in such a short format.

  8. Jill Sorenson
    Jun 27, 2012 @ 06:59:56

    I’m interested! I loved Shelley’s Frankenstein. Is this story romantic or just erotic, and who is actually getting it on? I’m assuming there are f/f scenes. Any f/f/m?

  9. Jennie
    Jun 27, 2012 @ 17:24:11

    There’s an HEA but I wouldn’t say much time is spent on developing the romance. There are m/f, f/f, and f/f/m scenes.

    I really think the plot could have supported a longer book.

  10. Jill Sorenson
    Jun 27, 2012 @ 18:14:23

    @Jennie: Thanks, sold. :)

  11. Jill Sorenson
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 18:35:58

    I enjoyed this for the most part, but I agree with your grade & review. I liked the writing and historical details (the vibrator & science stuff was very well done), but the story felt disjointed. Like a Frankenstein monster! It started off in Dr. F’s POV and ended up with mostly Justine, who never rang true for me. Was she warm or cold, dead or alive, the same person or different?

    I think it would have worked better with fewer characters, vibrators OR reanimation, weird science erotica OR a central romance.

  12. Jennie
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 23:31:31

    @Jill Sorenson: I agree that there was just too much going on, especially for the length. You have a good point about Justine, too – if she had been a stronger character it would’ve brought the grade up a bit for me.

  13. Reading List by Jennie for June 2012
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 10:01:22

    […] review here. […]

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