The Pleasures Trilogy is not Eloisa James at her best. While they have a certain amount of charm, all three books suffer from that most dreaded of romance tropes: a misunderstanding between the couple that comes about because they are too dumb to talk to each other.
Also, these covers. Good Lord.
So, Potent Pleasures features Charlotte Daicheston. A friend convinces her to sneak out and go to a reputation ruining lower class dance, in disguise of course. Charlotte meets a masked stranger and proceeds to be so overcome by pleasure that she has sex with him. It ends abruptly when he realizes she’s a virgin. Her debaucher is Alex Foakes, the oldest of twins and an earl of some such. He and his brother, Patrick, are a bit wild, so they are sent abroad. Alex to the Continent; Patrick to India. Of course, Alex and Charlotte come thisclose to meeting in society before he leaves.
Years pass, Charlotte is now friends with Sophie York. She spends her days painting and her nights reluctantly attending balls. Then she gets Eloisa’s favorite Regency make over: empire waist dresses and short hair. And wouldn’t you know, Alex is back from his travels. Needless to say, Charlotte and Alex reconnect, sparks fly, and there is pleasure aplenty. Charlotte realizes Alex was the masked stranger, but he assumes that she has gotten him mixed up with Patrick. Charlotte does not do much to contradict his belief. Alex behaves like a complete ass, which does not stop him from sexing up Charlotte six ways from Sunday. They have a couple rough patches that could easily be resolved if they would just fracking communicate! Ultimately, it takes Patrick smacking Alex upside the head and Charlotte’s near death to right things.
Patrick and Sophie take center stage in Midnight Pleasures. Sophie makes the most of being single, collecting a slew of admirers. Thanks to her parents’ disastrous marriage, she determines to marry the dullest peer available. She is smart as a whip and has a knack for languages, which her awful mother tells her to conceal from the world. For his part, Patrick kissed her once and hasn’t stopped thinking of her since. He spent his time abroad working for the foreign office and is roped into a sensitive mission back at home.
Eloisa teases us and makes it seem like they are going to have a grand adventure in Turkey. Sadly, that is not to be. Patrick steals Sophie from her dull fiance and thanks to her mother’s bad advice they have nothing but misunderstanding after misunderstanding. Which of course means minimal sexy times. Boo. Again, open communication would have helped.
I couldn’t really get into this one, but even so, I found myself genuinely moved and teary eyed when tragedy befalls Patrick and Sophie. They work things out and are closer for it. There is also a sweet B plot with Sophie’s jilted fiance.
Book three brings a secondary character to the fore. Quill Dewland was injured in a riding accident. Although recovered, he is unable to ride horses or ladies without getting the worst migraine ever. So, his father arranges for his younger brother, Peter, to marry the daughter of a man that has leant him money over the years. Quill is immediately taken with clumsy plumb Gabby. Peter not so much. Gabby grew up in India with her eccentric father and is lacking in many of the refinements expected of English ladies.
Obviously, Quill swoops in and marries Gabby with the expected result: one awesome night followed by three days of hell. Quill refuses to talk about the issue resulting in a ~misunderstanding~ a-freaking-gain. Somehow, Gabby and Quill get roped into some foreign office affair having to do with a missing Indian prince to pass the time since they aren’t constantly pleasuring each other. Gabby finds the time to summon a doctor she knew in India to help her with Quill’s issue. She must resort to subterfuge to help him and nearly ends up dead for her trouble. Quill finally learns to communicate and all is well.
I like Eloisa James enough to give these books a 3 out of 5. They are fun and light for the most part with a few touching moments. They also drive home how important it is to talk to your partner. Plus, the pleasure parts are quite…hot.
Thank you, lobstie!