Aphrodisia Kensington Books
May 26, 2009
Admittedly, there is something about the proper doing wicked things that drew me to this story. With Behind the Red Door, the title alone brings about titillating fantasies. Brothels of the Regency era encourage ideas of marble columns, fine silks in vivid reds or deep purples, and beautiful men and women languidly placed about. The finery of the establishment often a contrast to the intimate acts that occur behind the closed doors seems to be temptation in itself. In Jackie Barbosa’s book, women venture to the high-end brothel, and though acceptable for men, it was unseemly for a female. Would you have had the courage to visit such an establishment?
Behind the Red Door is a collection of three novellas by Jackie Barbosa that all feature an exclusive London brothel named the Red Door. The characters from the stories intermingle with farther glimpses of each as the story progresses.
In Wickedly Ever After Nathaniel St. Clair, the sixth Marquess of Grenville, is well known for his shocking trysts and wicked ways throughout the town. However, little do they know he is the famous scholar Clarence Mathews, a pseudo he fabricated to pursue his love of translating Classical prose. Eleanor Palmer strides into his home one day to confront him regarding a letter penned by her ex-fiancé that implies Nathaniel and she should make a match. Eleanor happens to worship Clarence Mathews and when she finds his work there, she is under the impression Nathaniel is his friend which sets off the beginning of their powerful connection. As Nathaniel tries to lure her into his bed he makes some self-realizations along the way and in the end gets more than the one-night stand he bargained for.
The tables turn in Scandalously Ever After, the story of Callie, a courtesan at the Red Door. She can’t believe it when she is purchased for the whole week by Captain Jack Prescott. Jack has just returned from the war and is suffering from PTSD. Nightmares haunt him every time he closes his eyes and he wishes to have someone beside him to sleep through the night with. Callie has other things in mind to help sooth Jack. Romance blossoms between the unlikely couple as they heal each other's emotional wounds.
The last story, Sinfully Ever After, is the tale of the Marquess of Grenville’s little sister, Jane St. Clair. Jane, who is considered somewhat plain, has been in love with her good friend, the notorious rake Lord Chester, Gerard Everett. When Gerard decides to take a wife and proposes to Jane, she readily accepts. Jane longs for Gerard to find her desirable and hopes to hold his attention, but she is inexperienced in the ways of seduction. Jane ends up at the Red Door to get lessons on how to please a man, but soon finds herself receiving a more hands-on demonstration. The skillful instructor just happens to be her betrothed, Gerard. The two experience ecstasy beyond belief, the problem is that Gerard doesn’t know the woman who’s stirring up such powerful emotions within him is his fiancé Jane.
Behind the Red Door is well written, containing beautiful detail in the surroundings and emotions that grace the pages. Each story was excellent; I couldn’t choose a favorite among them. Ms. Barbosa’s plot is full of feeling with unique situations for each of the protagonists, and though the sex is quite explicit, there is a real tenderness expressed between the characters. Each story seems to carry a bit more depth, which brings the novel marvelously together as a whole. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Barbosa’s work, as this one leaves no doubt that there are great things to come from her.
Reviewed By Pam
© January 2009