***I received a copy of this book complimentary from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.***
Descended by Rose Devereux
Published: February 1st, 2016 by Devereux Books
Genres: Adult, contemporary romance, erotica
Trigger Warnings: hella sexual content (duh), BDSM
Pages: 189 pgs.
2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge: A book set in Europe
“When he said he wasn’t like other men, I should have believed him…”
It’s Sophie Quinn’s chance to make a name for herself. Her assignment: interview investor Marc Brayden, descendant of the most notorious sadist in history, the Marquis de Sade. Her mistake: falling hopelessly, obsessively in love.
Marc is mind-blowingly sexy, but determined to stay away from Sophie. She brings out powerful dominant urges that are dangerous to them both. But when he loses control, the pleasure is more than either of them can resist.
Sophie shut down her heart after too much betrayal and loss. Now she’s thousands of miles from home and under Marc’s spell. What is he hiding? Why do his desires torment him? Torn between love and the truth, she resolves to learn everything she can about Marc’s cryptic past, even if she risks losing him forever.
Rose Devereux writes shamelessly erotic romance, some of it light, some of it dark, all of it sexy. In her other life, she is a traditionally published author whose books have been translated into five languages. Reviews of her novels have appeared in Cosmopolitan, The Boston Globe, New York Magazine, and the Associated Press.
She loves animals, sleeping late, champagne, and alpha males.
She lives in sin with her boyfriend and two cats in Boston and New Hampshire.
Since the explosion of E.L. James’ Twilight-spinoff, Fifty Shades of Grey, the romance novels industry has seen a salacious new boom — all with stories focusing around the raunchier side of sexual exploration. While I’m always down for some extracurricular activities, sometimes these books can be almost interchangeable down to the characters, plot, and even sex scenes. Because of that, it always feels like a breath of fresh air to come across a BDSM-style book that incorporates more original touches throughout its pages; while there are some elements of Rose Devereux’s Descended that follow the trend, there’s enough originality within its pages that kept me craving more.
After learning that her boyfriend had been cheating on her, travel writer Sophie Quinn decides to throw herself fully into her work. Her first assignment after her new renaissance? Taking on an assignment to go visit rural France to learn more about the places the notorious Marquis de Sade called home. While, technically, her journalistic integrity is supposed to prevent her from becoming interested in one of her subjects — Marc, a distant descendant of the Marquis — she finds herself completely enamored by his charms. It just so happens that Sophie’s presence sparks something within Marc that he’s tried to hide for years. Exactly what kind of sparks fly when these two come together?
One of the major things that sets Descended apart from the other selections in the genre is that Devereux actually knows how to write. It might be a little bit abrasive of me to say such a thing, but she understands the importance of telling a story. Descended has an actual arc that just so happens to have a bunch of sex, instead of a bunch of sex scenes that are arbitrarily tied together with an extremely loose plot. There’s character development and growth within both of the lead characters that flesh them out to be more than slot A for peg B to go into. In a lot of ways, Sophie sticks up for herself and isn’t afraid to let her desires be known, which is something that can’t be said for a certain Steele-y heroine in a similar series. Along the way, Sophie grapples with some heavy internal dilemmas: what does it mean to be submissive? Who really has the control in these sorts of relationships? Goodbye, porn without plot; hello, philosophical discussions on the merits and drawbacks of BDSM!
Of course, the sex scenes themselves are all really well-written. Quite a few left me feeling somewhat hot under the collar and I might have texted my partner with a few suggestions for upcoming encounters when I visit him later this week. If your book is inspiring its readers to propose certain consensual things with their partners, then pat yourself on the back: you’ve done a great job of describing the actions and chemistry between your characters. Granted, this book isn’t perfect by any means — I still question the random appearance of Sophie’s ex at Marc’s Parisian apartment? That exchange could have been held over the phone, really — but it didn’t claim to be anything ground-breaking. All it set out to do was to tell a steamy, intriguing romance.
While I do think there were parts in which Sophie was far too much of the stereotypical “ingenue” role and Marc the “tortured lover with a past” that we saw in Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, there were enough differences in the quality of writing and character development that left me satisfied. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go continue to tease my partner with the prospect of some of the scenes in this book coming to life.
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