Everyone has their own demons and everyone has their own needs. When you love someone, you have to be what they need. And the School of Gallantry was designed to help men do that. It’s the entire point of the series. The blurb on this book focuses almost entirely on the hero, the Earl of Hawksford, who used to be fat and is still dealing with his issues despite his now attractive form. It spares no time at all for the heroine Charlotte, which meant I walked into this book unprepared for a storyline I would not have chosen to read, had I known what I was getting into.
Hawksford first met Charlotte back when he was fat. She was a shopgirl, desperately in need of money, but she was the first woman to act like she was truly interested in him. They shared a kiss that rocked him to his foundations, but she closed the door to more and disappeared. It was that encounter that inspired him to change. He put the sweets aside and hit the boxing ring, hardening on the inside and out, and becoming a lothario of legend. Until 11 years later, when Charlotte walks back into his life, changing everything once again.
If this were all that the story was about, I think I would have really enjoyed it. But Charlotte’s issues pushed the romance outside of my comfort zone. She was the victim of rape and now needs rape fantasies to turn her on in the bedroom. Her assault is what pushed her away from Hawksford all those years ago, but now she is ready to be honest with him about her past and what she needs now. Only, he doesn’t want to do to her the things she asks for.
The course of the story follows him as he is forced to conform to her “needs.” That is supposed to show his love for her. But I had real issues with this. Why should he have to put his own needs aside? I need a balance in my romance and usually it’s the heroine who has to subvert her needs and bend, but I enjoy it no more when it’s the hero who has to do so. I can’t pretend to understand what the victim of sexual violence needs to feel whole, but everything about their encounters made Hawksford feel… bad. Forcing him to conform is no better than forcing her to conform. Yet, this is the end result he must go to school for.
The sex scenes are not my cuppa tea, but they bother me more knowing they are not Hawksford cuppa tea, either. And I am left wondering what the future of this relationship could look like. Hawksford was already emotionally vulnerable. What about what he needs? It should count for something.
I wish there had been more transparency in the book description. I know that there are readers out there who enjoy this kind of story. But I am not one of them.
*Book provided by author
Click to purchase: Amazon
Lord of Pleasure
by Delilah Marvelle
Original Release Date: August 1, 2009
Re-Release Date: August 20, 2015