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19 March 2014

Review: Improper Relations by Juliana Ross

Author: Juliana Ross
Publication Date: April 23, 2012
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Adult Historical Romance/Erotica Short Story
Find It: GoodreadsAmazonB&N
Source: Purchased

When Hannah's caught watching her late husband's cousin debauch the maid in the library, she's mortified--but also intrigued. An unpaid companion to his aunt, she's used to being ignored.

The black sheep of the family, Leo has nothing but his good looks and noble birth to recommend him. Hannah ought to be appalled at what she's witnessed, but there's something about Leo that draws her to him.

When Leo claims he can prove that women can feel desire as passionately as men, Hannah is incredulous. Her own experiences have been uninspiring. Yet she can't bring herself to refuse his audacious proposal when he offers to tutor her in the art of lovemaking. As the tantalizing, wicked lessons continue, she begins to fear she's losing not just her inhibitions, but her heart as well. The poorest of relations, she has nothing to offer Leo but herself. Will it be enough when their erotic education ends?

I originally bypassed this story when it first showed up on NetGalley and picked it up later based on a recommendation from a couple of friends. I am really glad I did, too, because this story is a bit of a hidden gem. Short stories can be really good or really meh and this one happily falls into the really good category.

Hannah is a widow living in her late husband's family's home. Hannah has no income of her own and has no option but to stay with them or face destitution. Hannah was taught that sex with one's husband was meant to be endured an not enjoyed. When her cousin Leo offers her lessons in pleasure, Hannah cannot say no. It may be her only chance to learn about it, and it doesn't hurt that she is attracted to Leo.

I am a fan of the sexual awakening/education trope in romance and Proper Relations handles it quite well. What begins as a sensual, educational relationship soon turns into something more and I found myself really rooting for them as a couple. This book did have a lot of anatomical language, which I don't usually love, but I did not mind it here. It fit with the tone of the story and was not too clinical.

I expected this to be a fun, smutty read and nothing more but I found it to be a surprisingly emotional read. I did get frustrated with both Leo and Hannah a couple of times. Hannah for not having enough backbone and fighting for the man she loves and Leo for not telling Hannah of his feelings earlier on. A lot of grief could have been avoided if Leo had given Hannah any indication of having deeper feelings for her. But it all turns out right and I loved their reunion at the end of the book.

Overall I really enjoyed Improper Relations and can't wait to see what Ross does next.

Visit the author online at julianaross.com.

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