Pleasure Me

By: Monica Burns

Star Rating:

Sensuality Rating:



Spoiler Disclaimer


All but disowned by a father who believed her mother had been unfaithful to him, Lady Ruth Atwood had few options open to her, so she became a courtesan as a matter of survival. It's the only life she's really known for over two decades, but at forty-one, she knows that both her youth and beauty - a courtesan's two greatest assets - are beginning to fade. Having just been thrown over by her latest protector for a much younger mistress, Ruth is faced with a dilemma. She needs more money to help fund an orphanage of which she's the primary patron and also would need more on which to retire, but she believes she's no longer desirable. Then a younger man makes her a very unusual offer to simply be her friend but with the same benefits a mistress would usually receive. Uncertain what to make of this strange proposition, she reluctantly accepts, and soon finds herself doing the one thing she swore she wouldn't - falling in love. But when Ruth discovers just how much of an age difference there is between them, can she put aside her fears to follow her heart.

Baron Garrick Stratfield has carefully cultivated the facade of a ladies man, but despite his reputation, he's never been with a woman. A physical deformity combined with an unfortunate and embarrassing incident that occurred the one time he tried to sleep with someone, have left him convinced that no one - not even a whore - would want to be with him. However, there are some among his social set who are beginning to doubt his mistress's existence and question his sexuality, and when the woman who's been pretending to be his mistress falls in love and leaves the country, he's left in a precarious position. He must find someone new who is willing to be his mistress in name only without questioning why. Garrick is thrilled when Ruth accepts his proposition, but at the same time, she presents the biggest temptation of his life. As he gradually gives in to her allure a little more each time they're together, he discovers a passion he never though possible. But can he convince Ruth that age is nothing more than a number? And what of those who are not only trying to destroy his reputation but also frame him for murder?


Pleasure Me was one of those random book choices I picked up, not having read the author before and not really knowing what to expect. I chose it in large part because it contains quite a number of themes I typically enjoy: virgin hero, hero with a physical imperfection who's also dealing with p { margin-bottom: 0.1in; line-height: 120%; }a:link { }past emotional abuse, courtesan heroine, heroine over forty, and an older woman/younger man May/December relationship. In many ways, these tropes helped me to like the book much better than I probably would have if they hadn't been a part of the story. Another attraction for me was that I noticed this appeared to be a steamy romance - which it was - although not quite "erotic" as billed on the cover. The love scenes are extremely sensual, but they definitely don't overwhelm the story in any way. I think there were only maybe three or four in the whole book. Also, while they do contain some mildly erotic content (a scene of light bondage, a blindfold, and a bit of sensual role-playing that didn't end in consummation), these elements simply weren't spicy enough to top a four out of five on my sensuality scale. However, they were very emotional and well-written and were some of my favorite parts of the book as well. That said, though, it was mainly the favorite tropes, steamy love scenes, and a pretty good emotional connection that helped garner the story a four-star rating from me, because it unfortunately had some frustrating moments which I'll address shortly.

After losing both his parents, Garrick and his siblings were placed under the guardianship of an uncle who was emotionally and sometimes physically abusive, and who sadistically loved to taunt him. Garrick was born with a physical abnormality that he'd thought little about until he developed feelings at the age of seventeen for a young ballerina his uncle had invited to their estate. Little did he know that the girl and his uncle conspired to lure him to the woman's room for sport where they cruelly made fun of his deformity. Mortified over the incident, Garrick vowed never to bed a woman again, and as soon as he was of age, he threw his uncle out and has been paying him hush money ever since, terrified that his secret might get out. Over the years, he's carefully cultivated the facade of the ultimate man's man, becoming skilled at boxing and creating the persona of a womanizer. However, his peers are beginning to become suspicious of his sexual preferences, as he never shows off his "mistress" like most men do. Then said "mistress" falls in love with another man and moves away, leaving Garrick without a cover. When he meets Ruth just after she's been thrown over by her lover, he's enchanted by her strength and beauty. He unconventionally proposes that they become friends, but he quickly finds himself wanting much more. However, his past experiences have left him emotionally scarred and unwilling to expose his body to a woman again. Garrick is the perfect mix between an alpha male and a more sensitive man with a wounded heart and psyche. I like how he gradually opens himself up to Ruth and he proves to be a quick study in the bedroom arts. Underneath it all, he has a kind heart, caring for orphans and lost souls. Overall, he was the type of hero I generally love, but I did find myself frustrated that even after Ruth proves herself trustworthy, he still seems to have little confidence in her or their relationship.

When her mother died and she was all but disowned by her father who erroneously believed she was another man's child, Ruth had few other options except to become a wealthy man's mistress. The life of a courtesan is all she knows, and she's generally been content with her lot in life until her latest lover throws her over for a much younger woman. Faced with the fact that her youth and beauty are fading fast, Ruth considers retiring to the country. However, she's the primary patron of an orphanage that she'd hoped to expand to a property she wants to buy and doesn't yet have enough money to do so. Then she meets Baron Stratfield who has an interest in the same country manor, making her fear that her dreams may be evaporating before he eyes, until he makes her a very unusual offer. His awkward pursuit leaves her uncertain whether to be flattered or offended, but eventually he wins her over with his charm. However, the fact that he's younger than her is a constant concern, and when she realizes she's done the unthinkable and fallen in love with him, she knows polite society would never accept their age difference and believes he deserves a more youthful woman. Ruth is a kind, caring person who accepts and respects Garrick despite his birth defect and is more than willing to meet him at his own comfort level. She's very giving and loving toward him and also toward the children in the orphanage, always happy to pitch in and help in whatever way is needed even if it means getting her hands dirty. I sympathized with her fears over getting older and over their age difference, but at times, I felt like her issues were belabored instead of her gradually growing and coming to trust in Garrick's love for her.

Throughout reading Pleasure Me, I had a roller-coaster relationship with the book. As I said before, I generally liked both Garrick and Ruth, and their story had a number of tropes I truly enjoy. However, the characters internalized issues and inability to fully trust one another became a bit repetitive and tedious at times. They come together and things start looking up for them, and then on the next page, they're being distrustful of one another again. This up and down continues pretty much throughout the entire book. I also picked up on some circular thinking and repetitious words and phrases that only exacerbated the problem. IMHO, it would have been a stronger story if the author had given more attention to building the external conflict, instead of almost constantly relying on Garrick and Ruth's respective internal conflicts to keep the story moving. The ingredients to do so were present, but not utilized to their full potential in my estimation. I think this would have made it possible for them to trust one another more fully and sooner and also would have left me with a more satisfied feeling, since to me, trust is equally as important as love in a romance. I struggled mightily with how to rate this book. Parts of it were probably only worthy of about 3.5 stars, but because there were a number elements I liked and it did manage to tug on my heartstrings several times, I decided to round it up to four. In any case, it was good enough to make me interested in trying another Monica Burn's book. While Pleasure Me is considered a stand-alone story, Ruth's friends Allegra and Shaheen from Kismet put in a few appearances, so I might check out their story at some point.


Monica Burns


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