January 2010, European Historical Romance (1892 England)
Berkley Sensation, $7.99, 316 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425230201
The seasoned Susan Johnson reader (that would be me) and readers new to the author might very well have different reactions to Sexy as Hell. To the vet, there is absolutely nothing new here – the author plows (ha!) the same ground she has in the past right down to the smallest detail. To a new reader, however, the book might be a better-than-most erotic romance featuring a sexy hero, an entertaining heroine, and lots and lots (and lots and lots) of hot sex.
Osmond, Barron Lennox is a rich beyond imagining nobleman of Indian and Anglo descent – hence, the dark, silky hair that rests against his neck when he is standing stud to numerous ladies of the ton . He meets Isolde, Countess of Wraxell, in a wacky hotel room mix-up when she is looking to get evidence of her imagined promiscuity in order to stop a marriage being forced upon her by a man she loathes. He is looking to get laid.
When Oz learns that she is threatened by the attentions of the man who is out for both her person and her money, he insists on marrying her. Both Isolde and Oz, however, go into the marriage with the intention that it will last only as long as it is needed in order to protect her.
Combustible sex ensues. Misunderstandings occur. And nothing much else happens. For 316 pages.
Honestly, when Susan Johnson isn’t phoning it in (as she totally does in her contemporaries and in many of the historical romances of the last few years), I’m a fan. It may be formulaic, but it’s a formula I like. With that said, hooboy, this one was so very familiar – from the decadence of the hero, his incredible sexual prowess, and the endless jealousy of every woman in the ton on to the insouciant, independent heroine – it’s all been done before. By this author. More than ten times, as a matter of fact. Better. Still, I enjoyed it.
Those new to the author may very likely enjoy it more. Oz is sexy. Isolde is likable. And the sex – including lovemaking featuring gourmet desserts (a Susan Johnson specialty) – is plentiful and well done. With that said, there's not much of a reason behind the romance other than combustible sex.
As a long time reader, though, I can’t help lamenting the Susan Johnson of old – Forbidden, Silver Flame, Outlaw and many, many more. Footnotes included. Still,with the acknowledgment that this is nowhere near the level of her classics, Sexy as Hell is a good bet. Even more so if the author is new to you.
-- Sandy Coleman
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