Book Review: Secrets of Sin by Chloe Harris

Secrets of Sin is erotic romance.

Emiline du Ronde is mistress of a great Caribbean plantation, a successful businesswoman and a very lonely wife. It seems Reinier Barhydt, her husband, departed four years ago on a ship and has not returned. Instead, he and his best friend, Connor have a reputation for wild menage a trois and they are happily circling the globe doing everyone from the noblewomen of Europe to a virgin whore in some undisclosed location — yes, a virgin in a whorehouse. And they were lucky enough to have her (though I wonder if a virgin in a whorehouse would feel the same). I fully expected the two men to actually do each other – since they almost kiss in the first chapter – but no, apparently their enjoyment of sex with other men is limited to watching the other with a woman.

Meanwhile, on her little island, Emiline du Ronde has had quite enough, and she has her attorney draw up divorce papers. Connor overhears this, and for reasons I’m not quite clear on, he tells Reinier that she has taken a lover. Reinier returns to the island and makes a bargain with her. If she succumbs to his every wish for three days, he will grant her divorce.

I’ll stop here to just say the motivations of this book are preposterous. Reinier actually yells to a maid that, “I’m the one that was a prize she could brag to her friends about, something to laud over them and check off her list of ingredients for the perfect marriage…. She never loved me. It was all about bragging rights to her.”

Bragging rights. Okay. Whatever. Like some guy who cats around with whores is some huge catch. Way to go Emiline. But of course, none of the motives are actually the point.

Gettin-it-on is the point.

And that they do quite well. In the three days that Emiline is to submit to him, he takes a liking to spanking her, whipping her, caning her, and plain old doing her like a math problem. It was absolutely thrilling.

The writing itself, with its sweet descriptions of Caribbean life, were lustrous and beautiful. The attraction between the two main characters was very well defined, and the sex was extremely good. The fact that it was all hinged on a ridiculous structure did not matter in the least. These books are escapist, and they’re allowed to veer from reality.

I do have a question about the two men, however. To my eye, it appeared that the two men were lovers, but that the editing process deleted it. I could be entirely wrong about that, but there is a gap in the plot where that fact would have fit quite well indeed. As it is, their close friendship full of hugs and, of course, sharing sex with a woman, just seems undone and a little odd. It’s an intriguing line of inquiry: if they were lovers and that was cut out, why was it cut? Did the editors not believe that women would enjoy man-sex?

In any case, the existing book is lovely. A very enjoyable, fast read that ends with a happily ever after. One note: you might not want to read it in public. If it didn’t have a giant warning label on it, you could probably read it in public, with this label, you’d look a little odd:

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