This review is for the Cheryl Holt historical romance novel, 'Promise of Pleasure.' You can read the synopsis here. It was published April 2010 by Berkley. It's book 1 in the Sensual Destiny trilogy. I'm sorry to say I didn't like this novel and all and I rate it 2 stars/D-.

The story begins in England in 1814 at Barnes Manor, home of the heroine, Mary Barnes. She's a petite 25 year old brown eyed brunette. She lives there with her stepmother, 45 year old, overweight, gray haired Victoria and two half sisters, Felicity, 18, plump, with blue eyes and blond hair, and Cassandra, 22, who is widowed.

The hero is Jordan Winthrop, Viscount Redvers. He's 30, tall, with black hair and blue eyes. He has a terrible relationship with his father, 55 year old Edward Sunderland, and has been cut off financially. He's desperate for money so he's planning to marry Felicity only for her money. He's to stay at Barnes Manor for about a month so he can visit with Felicity. He's brought along his best friend, Paxton Adair, who has blond hair and brown eyes, and Jordan's mistress, Lauretta Bainbridge.

When the book begins, a pedler, Mr. Dubois, is trying to sell Mary some elixer that will make her fall in love with Mr. Right. She won't buy it so he gives it to her for free. She has a secret fiancé, a neighbor named Harold Talbot, who's 40 years old and lives with his mother. His mother doesn't like Mary for no apparent reason so he refuses to marry her until his mother dies. He ends up marrying his cousin.

Right from the start, Jordan flirts with Mary Barnes. They begin a sexual relationship, even though he's there to marry her sister. Lauretta spots them outside one day looking upset so she correctly assumes they're having a sexual relationship with each other and have gotten into an arguement. She's very jealous so she tells Mary's stepmother, Victoria. Victoria confronts Mary and kicks her out of the house. She gives her some money to go live in London and find a job. While Mary is walking down the road on her way to hire a coach, Lauretta and Paxton ride by. Lauretta offers her a ride and a place to say with her friend, Barbara Monroe. When they get to Barbara's home, which is really a brothel, they have tea together. Mary's tea was drugged and she passes out. She's to be sold to the highest bidder. Soon after, Jordan finds out, from Cassandra, I believe, that Mary has been thrown out of the house and has been given a ride into town by Lauretta, whom he doesn't trust. Jordan refuses to marry Felicity and leaves her at the altar.

He finds Mary at the brothel, unconscious and tied to a bed, being gawked at by potenital buyers. He takes her away, professes his love for her, offerers to marry her and take her to live at his delapidated home.

Then comes the epilogue, in which we find that they'd married the day before, which is five weeks after they'd first met. They're outside and happen to see Mr. Dubois, who is trying to sell Helen Hamilton a love potion. She's to be the heroine of book 2, Taste of Temptation, in the Sensual Destiny series.

Interwoven in this story is the story of Jordan's best friend, Paxton and his sexual relationship with Cassandra. Like with Jordan and Mary, they begin a sexual relationship with each other. Paxton leaves Barnes Manor to accept a plantation in Jamaica, which is father has given to him. He heads home. That's when Cassandra decides she wants to be with him. So she finds him at his home. She professes her love of him, and he does the same to her. They're to go live in Jamaica. I don't think they got married.

My thoughts: I didn't like this story at all. The hero was a slut who was only marrying for money. He didn't care about Mary's feeling at all when she told him to not marry Felicity. He wanted to keep Mary as his mistress after he married her sister. When he found out Mary had been kicked out of the house, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he's in love with her. I didn't buy that at all, nor did I buy the love Paxton and Cassandra had for each other after knowing each other for about a month. All the characters, except for Mary, were unlikeable. I didn't like that this story was really two stories in one. I didn't find either relationship believable. I don't understand how Lauretta was allowed to stay at Barnes Manor with two unmarried men. That was never explained.

I did like the hero and heroine meeting very early on, on page 6, to be exact. They didn't get along from the moment they met and they bickered constantly. Jordan was quite the instigator, always saying suggestive things to Mary, getting her riled up. But she soon gave in to his flirtatious ways and got kick out of the house because of it. But that's ok because she gets her happily-ever-after.

Other books by Cheryl Holt are:

  • The Way of the Heart  2000-01
  • Meg's Secret Admirer(ss)  2000-01
  • My Only Love  2000-04Apr-2000 
  • Mountain Dreams BQ-0071BQ-71 CR 2000
  • My True Love  2001-03
  • Love Lessons  2001-10
  • Total Surrender  2002-07
  • Absolute Pleasure  2003-02
  • The Wedding Night(ss) R 2003-07
  • Complete Abandon  2003-09
  • Deeper Than Desire  2004-03
  • More Than Seduction  2004-08
  • Further Than Passion  2005-03
  • Too Hot to Handle  2005-10
  • Too Tempting to Touch  2006-03
  • Too Wicked to Wed  2006-09
  • Secret Fantasy  2007-03
  • Forbidden Fantasy  2007-09
  • Double Fantasy  2008-03
  • Promise of Pleasure  2010-04
  • Taste of Temptation 2010-06
  • Dreams of Desire Dec-2010

* This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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