Hidden Paradise by Janet Mullany
Publication date: 18 September 2012 by Harlequin
Category: Adult Erotica/Romance
Keywords: Erotica, romance, Jane Austen, historical
Format: Paperback, eBook
Source: e-ARC received from Netgalley
Louisa Connelly, a recently widowed Jane Austen scholar, needs some relief from her stifling world. When a friend calls to offer her a temporary escape from her Montana ranch, she is whisked into a dizzying world of sumptuous food, flowing wine and endless temptation.She's an honored guest at Paradise Hall, an English resort boasting the full experience of an authentic Georgian country-house weekend. Liveried servants tend to every need of houseguests clad in meticulous period costume: snug breeches, low-cut silken gowns and negligible undergarments.
It's Mac Salazar, a journalist immersing himself fully, deeply, lustily in the naughty pleasures of upstairs-downstairs dalliances, who piques Louisa's curiosity—and libido—most. He's a dilettante straight out of a novel: uninhibited, unapologetic and nearly insatiable. But Lou's not romantic about this much, at least: Paradise Hall is a gorgeous fantasy, nothing more. A lover like Mac is pure fiction. And the real world beckons .
On paper, Hidden Paradise sounds like a book that I would love. Lou, a recent widow, decides to go on a Jane Austen retreat. It’s an all inclusive vacation complete with period costumes but with the convenience of modern plumbing. The trip promises to have sumptuous balls, men in tight breeches, and the promise of a romantic interlude. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, a good premise does not always make a good book and I found myself wondering where this one went wrong.
The book is told from multiple points of views. Normally I am not a big fan of multi POVs but I can understand them if they add something to the story. However it did not add anything in this case. There were at least 4 or 5 POVs in this book which was too many for a book this length. It actually detracted from the main characters (Lou and Mac), often having us go off on tangents with other characters that were interesting but unnecessary.
I also found it hard to believe that all of the people coming to the resort were so open to having sexual relations with perfect strangers. It was like a giant Austen orgy. Maybe I am naive but I found it weird that everyone was so willing to go at it with everyone and anyone, usually with people they had just met. Outdoors, in a sauna, threesomes, multiple partners in one day...the list goes on. The love scenes are plenty erotic and quite imaginative but I just couldn’t get into them. This probably had to do with my next issue below.
While the characters were interesting, I didn’t feel a huge attachment to any of them. I liked Lou and Mac together but their behavior was confusing. Both profess to having feelings for the other one minute but then both jump into bed with other people the next. Lou has a fling with Rob, the 19 year old head footman. I really liked Rob but was a little uncomfortable with the age difference between the two. I don’t think she took advantage of him (he’s quite willing) but I would have felt a little better with it had he been a couple of years older. There were many secondary characters as well but again, I didn’t have any strong feelings towards any of them.
I wish I could give Hidden Paradise a higher rating, but there was just something missing. I found myself indifferent to the characters and their fates, and trying to read as fast as I could to finish it. I was happy when Lou and Mac finally got their HEA, but I didn’t get that sigh worthy satisfied feeling I usually get after reading a really good romance. If you’re a die hard Jane Austen fans might want to give this a go for novelty’s sake. Everyone else should probably skip it.
*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.