Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

REVIEW: Georgeous as Sin by Susan Johnson

Dear Ms. Johnson:

042522681601lzzzzzzzI’ve been a long time reader of yours. Pure Sin, Outlaw, the Braddock-Black series, are all on my keeper shelf. I’ve always maintained that you were writing erotic romance before those in charge of defining sub genres came forth with that label. I’ve read you long beyond when I think that I should have stopped, thinking that the next book will be a return to the glory days. Even though the last few contemporaries were weak on plot and characterization, I eagerly anticipated this title because it was a historical. Perhaps the malaise in writing was due to the time period rather than anything else. I could not have been more wrong.

Fitz Monckton, Duke of Groveland, is easily recognizable to any Susan Johnson fan. He’s impossibly rich, impossibly arrogant, impossibly sexy, with a bed more full of girls than Hugh Hefner in his prime (both physically and monetarily). What he wants, he gets. Rosalind St. Vincent is an independent but poor widow who owns a bookshop at the corner of a group of buildings in Mayfair that Fitz wants to develop and turn into Monckton Row townhomes. Rosalind is resistant to the offer of money and so Fitz decides he’ll go down and charm her out of her clothes and her home.

Rosalind is resistant to his charms, at least initially, leading Fitz to think of her in rosy terms. “She is a bitch, he thought.” This isn’t the last of Fitz’s compliments to Rosalind. After some bantering in which Fitz tries to cajole Rosalind to sell and Rosalind refusing, Fitz suggests that Rosalind’s husband killed himself to get away from her. It’s a fairly delightful scene and sets the stage well for the entire book wherein Fitz acts hateful and Rosalind is impotent.

He came to his feet in a powerful surge. “You don’t know who you’re dealing with,” he growled, towering over her.

“On the contrary,” she rebuked, looking up at him, her gaze flame hot, “I know very well who I’m dealing with! A spoiled, self-indulgent debauchee who’s never worked a day in his life or cared about anyone but himself! But I am not intimidated by your wealth and power! I’m here and I’m staying!” As if empowered by her own words, she rose to her feet in a flash and jabbed her finger into the fine silk jacquard of his waistcoat. “Now, get out!”

He grabbed her wrist in a viselike grip. “You unmitigated bitch.”

She gasped in pain.

His fingers tightened for a flashing moment, then he abruptly released her and bending down so their eyes were level, whispered, fierce and low, “They say your husband jumped. Now I know why.”

Fitz vows to crush Rosalind and sets his dogs on her life, to discover every secret, every aspect of her life that he can use to wrench the bookstore from her. Rosalind does have a big secret. She writes erotica to supplement her income, a continuation of her deceased husband’s efforts. So the tension is set. Will Fitz call off the dogs before something bad happens to Rosalind? or will Rosalind’s life be ruined because Fitz wants her property?

The plot, however, is almost totally subsumed into banal flirting and sexual acts. Witness this first act of congress:

But suddenly, she threw her arms around his neck, melted into his body, and breathed against the warmth of his mouth, “Forgive me for being so brazen, but you make me feel ever so good…”

“I’m glad,” he whispered, sliding his hands downward, cupping her bottom, holding her hard against his cock.

Another little gasp, and she breathed whisper soft, “You’re…enormous!”

Suppressing his impulse to say, “The better to fuck you with,” he kissed her less sweetly, with the novel urgency Mrs. St. Vincent inspired even as he searched for the door to her upstairs apartment.

Fitz, or the Monk as he is so ironically nicknamed, becomes worried he is too attached to Rosalind, forgetting to pursue his agenda of sweeping her home and livelihood out from under her feet. He turns to his past paramours including one he had discarded just prior to his courtship of Rosalind. In one very romantic scene, he spends hours at this one paramour before returning home to bathe and then present himself to Rosalind for more fucking. Rosalind thinks to herself that though it is strange she smells soap on his body during the midday, it matters not.

Of course, it matters not. For all of Rosalind’s protests of being an independent woman, she is nothing without Fitz. She doesn’t care that he treats her as if she is of no more importance than a discarded paramour or a whore he might spend all night whiling away the hours. As for Fitz, he lacks any heroic abilities at all. He sets out to destroy someone’s life for profit even though he would not need another dime to enjoy his life. He doesn’t even have a redemptive moment in that he’s never really sorry. At the end of one bout of sex which ends with Rosalind rejecting his proffers of gifts, Fitz thinks to himself that he needs to check with his barrister to see if any dirt has been dug up on Rosalind. “Hopefully, something he could use to destroy the irritating cunt who stood in the way of his development project.”

Even the sex wasn’t very exciting and rehashed old Susan Johnson themes, particularly where one party gets peeved that the other has had sex with someone before their coupling. It was tiresome, soulless, and sad. While I know people will wonder why this is not a F book for me, it’s because it is not unreadable. It has grammatically correct sentences and some semblance of a plot, but the characters are unlikeable, the sex was dull, and everything seemed tired and old. D

Best regards,


This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and 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


  1. vanessa jaye
    Mar 03, 2009 @ 13:03:36

    1. I laughed most of the way through this review.
    2. I just remembered that ‘flashing’ is to Ms. Johnson as ellipses is to Ms. Cartland.
    3. This book sounds deliciously over the top of Mt. Alpha with a swift decent into the verdant, moist, heaving valley of Boink.
    4. I’ll be buying it after work. tra-la-la-la ::skips away::

  2. HelenKay Dimon
    Mar 03, 2009 @ 13:25:43

    Wow. I’m thinking soulless is a pretty strong statement for a romance. Is it that there’s no redemption for Fitz’s assholeness (yeah, I made up a word but it seems to fit from the description) or a bigger issue in that the book left you feeling empty?

  3. MCHalliday
    Mar 03, 2009 @ 14:27:57

    It was tiresome, soulless, and sad.

    Crikey! Although from the review comments, your assessment comes as no surprise and I’d likely feel the same way, I have to wonder why the editor of GaS wouldn’t be left with the same feeling. I suppose best selling authors are able to present any ms based on your mention, “Even though the last few contemporaries were weak on plot and characterization, I eagerly anticipated this title because it was a historical.”

    HelenKay, it seems to me, Jane summed up her issue here:

    …the entire book herein Fitz acts hateful and Rosalind is impotent.

  4. vanessa jaye
    Mar 03, 2009 @ 14:50:12

    btw, forgot to add, this landed on my to buy list previously, in part because of the B it received on AAR a week or so ago. The reviewer there thought it was a return to classic Susan Johnson romance and found both the H/h likable. It’ll be interesting to see which review comes close my own eventual experience.

  5. Radish
    Mar 03, 2009 @ 15:58:06

    Ick. Abuse of the heroine by the ‘hero’, whether physical or verbal, is an instant turn-off for me. By that first excerpt, it’s easy to see this jerk is guilty of both.

    I need a hero I can admire, not some vermin I’d want to shoot on sight.

  6. RStewie
    Mar 03, 2009 @ 16:12:16

    Is that last quote about the cunt from the book?!! I can’t believe that!

  7. joanne
    Mar 03, 2009 @ 17:28:24

    I’ve been so in the mood for Historical Romances — now I’ll head back to my TBR pile — and giving this one a shake of the head for sounding like more fodder for every snide romance book joke ever told.

    He’s not a hero I could care about and she’s not a heroine I could spend time with without shaking her — hard. A few of the relatively recent contemporary novels I read by Johnson made me wonder if she even likes women. Or men. Or writing romance books.

  8. Susan
    Mar 03, 2009 @ 17:39:49

    I just finished it and totally agree with the review. I have enjoyed her past historicals but this one was a disappointment. I never got the sense that the hero was really in “love” with the heroine. His constant going back and forth between the heroine and his exes was over the top! It was annoying that he had to jump in the sack to prove that sex with Rosalind was DIFFERENT and not the run of the mill sex act therefore there was something “special” between them!! It lacked the “romance” factor for me. Both leads weren’t that likable. Book is heading to the USB.

  9. Georgina
    Mar 03, 2009 @ 18:25:29

    Even if the rest of the book sounded amazing, I don’t think I could get past the hero throwing the heroine’s husband’s suicide in her face like that. God, that’s awful.

  10. Jane
    Mar 03, 2009 @ 18:53:15

    @Georgina I think I gave up any hope after the cunt reference which happens about a third of the way in and after several couplings.

  11. Jane
    Mar 03, 2009 @ 18:53:53

    @HelenKay Dimon Pretty much what MCHalliday says. Nothing about this book was romantic, sexy or interesting.

  12. Jane
    Mar 03, 2009 @ 18:54:13

    @vanessa jaye Please let us know how you enjoy it.

  13. Mischa
    Mar 03, 2009 @ 19:22:48

    What I want to know is has she gone back to having extensive footnotes? Reading the footnotes was half the fun in her older books.

  14. Jane
    Mar 03, 2009 @ 20:02:43

    @Mischa No footnotes. There was a shout out to Robin Schone’s Men and Women’s Club.

  15. Samantha
    Mar 03, 2009 @ 21:04:10

    Well, since I never understood her appeal in the first place, I feel no loss.
    I tried to gnash through two of her favored works. Couldn’t get past the stilted prose. To me the characters themselves had as much personality as those lauded footnotes.

    ETA…nice cover though

  16. Lorraine
    Mar 03, 2009 @ 22:24:59

    Fitz thinks to himself that he needs to check with his barrister to see if any dirt has been dug up on Rosalind. “Hopefully, something he could use to destroy the irritating cunt who stood in the way of his development project.”

    Is Rosalind the “irritating cunt” he’s referring to????? And it’s a romance?????

    I don’t know what bothers me more, that he refers to her as a cunt or that he thinks she irritating. Either one makes him an unreadable hero for me.

  17. EC Sheedy
    Mar 03, 2009 @ 23:03:18

    @Georgina I think I gave up any hope after the cunt reference which happens about a third of the way in and after several couplings.

    Why can’t I get past my absolute hatred of the word cunt? If a hero uses it, I detest him instantly. If a heroine uses it, I think she’s an idiot. There’s no hope for me, I guess. I just wish that word would go away . . .

  18. Samantha
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 04:41:09

    I actually like the “big C” as long as it isn’t used pejoratively. Sexually, it sounds gritty and intense, unlike pussy which makes me want to giggle, or vagina which sounds so clinical.
    I know it’s hard for some women to see it that way, though.

  19. EC Sheedy
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 08:47:38

    Samantha, now there you go . . . You find the “big C” word “gritty and intense” while I find it dirty and bleak. It seems somehow to reduce a woman to one of her parts. Now pussy, I can live with.

%d bloggers like this: