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Monday, August 06, 2007:
"Suite Seventeen" by Portia Da Costa (2007)
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Mass Market Paperback
Publisher: Virgin Black Lace (August 7, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0352341092
ISBN-13: 978-0352341099
When vibrant forty-something widow Annie Convoy decides it's time she woke up and smelt the erotic roses, where better to begin her daring adventures than the luxurious Waverley Grange Country Hotel, and its hidden den of iniquity - Suite Seventeen? Under the stern but playful eye of exotic master Valentino, Annie surrenders to his outrageous games of power. But when the Waverley's future hangs in the balance, and Annie has the means to save it, dare she gamble on going one step further...and giving her heart to the mysterious man who's come to control her?
I picked this one up along with the Emma Holly book, both Black Lace releases, and after having heard good things about Portia Da Costa's story-telling. A sequel to Ms. Da Costa's previous book "Entertaining Mr. Stone", this one nonetheless stands on its own.
In "Suite Seventeen", Mrs. Convoy spent her days playing golf, badly, gardening, baking and meeting for lunch with friends from the Townswomen Guild, all very prim, proper and...boring. One night she agrees to meet her handsome investor at the Waverley for dinner, to discuss her finances. On the outside, it appears elegant and conservative, unless you know what to ask for - Suite Seventeen - and Annie has been playing it safe for long enough. She wants to live, and she wants to experience the kind of sexual excitement her kinky neighbors partake in night after night.
While waiting impatiently for her date to show up, Annie meets the exotic and enticing "Valentina", with long black hair, dressed in lame', and she is stunned by her attraction to the gorgeous vision before her, knowing full well Valentina is actually a man. After exchancing a few words, Valentina leaves, and Annie is left to ponder her strange reaction to this sensual creature. Confused, her date forgotten, Annie soon leaves Waverley, intending to go straight home, until she sees him walking towards the woods, and unable to stop herself, she follows him...and experiences the most erotic, satisfying sexual encounter of her life, which leads her to discover a side of herself she never knew existed, but now she can't live without.
I will admit that the domination/submission fantasy has never really done anything for me, (with the exception of Shayla Black's "Wicked Ties" and possibly the upcoming JR Ward release about Vischous and the Black Dagger Brotherhood) so I was a bit reluctant to pick this one up, feeling like I would have judged it before even reading it. Fortunately it was not a hardcore D/s story, so I was able to delve into it without the squeamish factor taking over. I found it a bit interesting how Annie, who'd never really had fantasies about being dominated before, was suddenly overcome with the irresistible desire to submit to Valentino, but instead of making her weak, her new-found lust frees her from the constrictive old life she once knew and was quite happy with in her marriage. But she is a different woman now, with different needs, and they have given her a new confidence and possibly a chance at love again.
Annie recognizes that she cannot be the clingy, dependent woman if she is to hold on to her man, so she establishes herself as a strong, independent woman who enjoys what her and Valentino share, but never asks for more than he is willing to give. In turn, he is free to be himself, in any of his various personas, and she accepts him, cares for him, lets him do anything he wants to her as long as they are together. This trust gives Valentino what he needs to commit to Annie, forever.
I have to give Ms. Da Costa tremendous credit for pulling me into the story, despite my intial reservations. I still don't really find the dom/sub scenarios to be my thing, but I can better understand how many people find them to be exciting and arousing, and not about being conquered but about surrendering control to someone you trust to experience extreme pleasure. I liked Annie a lot, how she developed a sassy and assertive confidence, and how wasn't afraid to explore her new fantasies. Valentino could have been cruel but he wasn't, instead you find out that he'd been hurt before, and his relationship with Annie was very important to him, despite his past.
If there was anything I didn't like about the book, it was the numerous references of Annie being an old woman, or even middle-aged. In today's world, mid-forties is still considerably young, and the references to her as "an old mare" made me think of someone twenty years older than she actually was. Instead I think Annie was a classy, lovely and sensual woman who is impatient to live life to the fullest; she's not old at all. No, I think she is divine.
This was my first Portia Da Costa story, but most decidedly not my last. I will have to get a copy of "Entertaining Mr. Stone" to read Maria's and Bobby's story, and there are quite a few other books in her repetoire that I will have to look into as well, and here is the place to check them out. So, what are you waiting for? Click on the link ;)
Do you read submission/domination romances?
If so, what are some of your favorites?
What do you find so enjoyable about them?

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  1. Wow, Stace, you've been on quite the kick of sexy books lately, haven't you? ;o)

    I also am not a D/s fan. Mainly because there is nothing remotely sexy to me about being in pain as part of the sexual experience. I'm in the club of sex should feel good. All of it.

    That being said, I'm a huge fan of PdaC. I think she writes brilliant romantic stories that are full of erotic encounters that push the envelope.

    My favorite Portia is THE TUTOR. It's an older story, but is written so beautifully, and is quite the story of discovery for the heroine.

    One of the things I like best about Portia is that she writes women who are "normal." They're not the most gorgeous women in the world, and sometimes they're a bit awkward. They're almost always unaware of the desirability. I love all of that.

  2. Yep MK, I'm in my dirty girl phase *g*

    And I agree about the feeling good part. Some may derive pleasure from pain, but I have never been one of them myself. I'm wired as a hedonist, and that's the opposite of pain.

    If I wasn't already planning on reading more of Portia's books, you'd certainly convince me. I love stories about ordinary, everyday women who are open-minded and have fantasies and dreams, and go about making them happen. That to me is very appealing.

  3. Wow, thanks for the fabulous review! I'm smiling from ear to ear now...

    I'm thrilled you enjoyed the book and liked my characters. :)

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