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A Carnal Agreement by Silvia Violet

Saturday, May 05, 2012

A Carnal Agreement
Regency Intrigue #1

Silvia Violet
Historical Romance/Erotica (very mild BDSM)
Published in 2006

H/h - Mark Foxwood/Lady Cassandra Braxton
Setting: London/Devon, 1818.

Read in May, 2012.
My rating: 

                                                            [spoiler alert]

A Carnal Agreement was my first attempt at Silvia Violet’s books. I totally liked some parts of it, some was just ok. Overall, the story was a bit predictable but not boring to say the least. SV maintained a good flow throughout. What disturbed me most was my annoyance with the heroine of the book, Cassandra. If not for her, I would definitely rate this book higher.

Cassandra’s irresponsible gambler father was forced to give her hand in marriage to marry Lord Reddington’s son, who didn’t inherit the title back then. There was money involved to overlook his son’s eccentricities. Afterwards, this son became Reddington and they married. Cassandra had no other option, it was her or one of her two younger sisters. We don’t much get to know about all these, unless it’s from Cassandra’s narratives or musings. All we know that her marriage was never consummated because of her husband’s eccentricities aka need for violence, which turned him on. He liked to beat women up and let a most debauched life... Cassandra didn’t know much about it for the 1st two years of her 3 yrs married life. She was left alone and miserable. Then, afterwards, she was determined to learn what her husband was about. Determined is the key word here, remember it because she was so ‘determined’ in doing everything her way, that I wanted to slap her bad. As I said, she annoyed the hell outta me!! So, she endangered herself by disguising as a maid to snoop into one of her husband’s dirty gatherings. There she witnessed the horror he’s involved with; kidnapping poor but innocent women and forcing them to submit to them, beating them bloody for enjoyment, forcing them with drugs and then to have sex. I don’t know how she coped with it but she did apparently. There she also saw one of her school mates, a cold b*tch called Katryn and her fiancé Mark, bastard son of a Duke, attending. She knew that Katryn moved with faster lot. Also that Mark is one of the notorious rakes. My question was, it seemed like Katryn was unmarried, how come her moving with such a lot didn’t impugn her reputation, being unmarried and all that? Her social standing wasn’t really clarified that way, so I was confused. Later we find her engaged to be married to a Lord after she ditched Mark on his face, who was foolish enough to fall in love with her. Of course, f*cking is alright with a stud like him but marriage to a bastard? It’s the most ludicrous thing of all and totally unimaginable!

Anyway, I don’t know if Cassandra’s husband ever found out about her disguise but Cassandra’s reputation, it seems, were ruined by the marriage. There were gossips about Reddington, which never died down. Later he went to France and recently, Cassandra had this news that he’s died there, reasons unknown. Cassandra wants to be free, independent, at any cost. She was happy about this news because she hated Reddington and hoped that the money she’d get from him would see to her days as well as her younger sisters. Since their father washed his hands off of them, they are under their Aunt Claire’s wing, who made it clear to their father that it’s now her duty to see them settled. He can’t interfare. But Cassandra was sorely disappointed when the will read that Cassandra has to be pregnant to get the money. It seems like Reddington is plaguing her life from the grave as well. Since the marriage was never consummated, a child is out of question, unless she can somehow ‘produce’ one. Cassandra retires to Devon after the will is read and annoyed, trying to think what to do. She needs the money. Soon, she hears that Katryn’s ditched ex-fiancé, who inherited the neighboring estate from his ‘patron’ the Duke, is visiting it and has retired for the winter. Now Cassandra has a plan, a cold and calculating one but she knows Mark would never be bothered by any civility. She would hold of announcing Reddington’s death and approach him about an affair, and get pregnant in 3 months. IMO it was a stupid plan to begin with… and for the most part of the book, even though sex was hot and I liked Mark a lot, it was as cold as it can be.

Mark has always been used by the cold Ton b*tches. He was good, even great, for bedding but nothing more, ever, due to his illegitimacy. Again, there wasn’t much exploration about his parentage or past, but that he’s a bastard. This fact has always impacted him and made him cynical to the core. He’s had his share of Ton sluts and otherwise and thanks to Katryn’s betrayal, I didn’t think he really held women in respect at all. I felt that he wanted to have a solid relationship, which never came to pass. He thought he was in love with Katryn, who is as uber good-looking as him and shared his appetite in bed. He thought this can work. But the b*tch laughed on his face while ditching his proposal of marriage. Mark broke up with him, even when she was protesting. She would marry this Lord Southwood but their ‘relationship’ would go on as usual. It disgusted Mark and he made a scene on her engagement party. This is where Cassandra recognizes Mark from her husband’s debauched party, as she was also attending the engagement celebration. She felt sorry for him but as he was passing by her, Cassandra felt this distinct physical pull towards him (he having the beastly, rough kind of appeal with a big, muscular body), which was one of the reasons why she decided upon him. But Mark, the next 6 months after Katryn’s engagement, he cut a swath of depravity through London, with both drink and women but nothing helped him forgetting his times with Katryn. I was glad that he didn’t just discard this woman, for whom he had some deep feelings. Yes, he was fooled but it showed he’s a human who is capable of deeper feelings and is willing to give into it, though right now he’d vehemently deny it. More often than not, heroes in Romances discard their ex-lovers like dirty towels, which sometimes bug me a lot. Kinda ironic since I don’t really like reading about the hero’s ex-lovers. Anyway, He’s grown much too wary and decides to leave London and retire for the winter in boring celibacy, hoping it’d cure his ailment aka Katryn’s betrayal. So when Cassandra drops into his estate with such a proposal, at first Mark is stunned. Then, upon taking a good look at Cassandra, he was intrigued. He definitely liked what he saw and agreed with her bargain, with a few options of his own such as: she’d have to stay with him in his estate these 3 months. Cassandra doesn’t like this but she has no other option but to dive into the plan she herself has concocted. She was definitely determined, I tell you!

It was apparent that her husband’s valet cared for her and he negated to this plan but of course, his opinion doesn’t count much. On her way to Mark’s estate, Cassandra was shot at. When somehow she makes it there, Mark is very concerned; a bit uncharacteristic on his part and so soon! He gets scares as he has once been burned. He takes care of her and becomes a little overprotective. That night, as planned, they start their affair, though I was disturbed by this, seeing how she was injured from the bullet wound. Must be Mark’s studly charm! Lol Anyway, he already knew about the state of her unconsummated marriage so it went well. Oh, Mark was some hot stuff I tell you! Even though he had this volatile mood, sometimes angry, sometimes intense, smiling too little (once Cassandra tells him she should smile often because it changes his demeanor completely) but his moods grew on me gradually and I begin to like his possessive attitude towards Cassandra. No matter what, it was very apparent that he was falling. He just can’t help it since Cassandra is the only woman who made him forget about Katryn’s treachery complete and then some more. Even though I didn’t like reading about mentions of his past conquests (including the cold b*tch, not a ‘conquest’ in that sense, still...), oddly enough, it didn’t bother me as much it does in some books.

Now, let me tell you again, I didn’t think whatever Mark said or did to Cassandra throughout the book to secure her safety was ‘too much’ or ‘too overprotective’ but Cassandra, being the TSTL she is, takes it as such. She interprets it as Mark ‘taking away her independence’. HUH??! Someone is trying to kill you and he wants to help, never minding the stupid arrangement you made. He had no business even to care but he did. In his own way, he did. And how do you repay? Every time he warns her off about a possible danger, you go and do the same thing he warned you off, just to show that... what? I have NO IDEA what were her points or what was she trying to prove. She invited danger in this way more than once and Mark, even though angry with her, would put up. Which, to me, equals to being besotted. Lol I wish he took some strong measures and gave her some incentive from being so shrewish and stupid at the same time. Then there were her monologues, OMFG, such as: ‘I can take care of myself’ (whenever Mark has some concerns over her), ‘Do your job’ (as in f*ck her to get her pregnant, she even hurts Mark once by being callous with her words), ‘I will not be a prisoner here’ (when they find out about the dangers she’s in and Mark asking her to stay at home, protected and she would nothing less than force him to let her have her way!). Ms. Author, heroines such as Cassandra aren’t really appealing, you know? You may want to show that she has a ‘strong will’ but ultimately, when she doesn’t use what little brains she got and when her words/actions doesn’t prove a single logical thing, she’s a moron; it’s as simple as that!

Even though sex was very hot (oh Mark just couldn’t get his hands off of her, and it wasn’t just because of their little arrangement coming to fruition), because of Cassandra’s behavior I couldn’t really connect then together. I could see Mark’s emotions, however the hell he tried to hide it but Cassandra made one blunder after another, which kind of ruined any development they might’ve made altogether. I mean, I don’t want to feel as if it’s another cold ‘affair’, where there’s nothing but sex but to see them actually falling for each-other, right? But, here, for the most part, it read like ‘just an affair’ only because of her coldness towards Mark (unless it’s sex) and reminder that it’s nothing but a 3 month arrangement. Also, she was confused about her feelings, which led her act stupid I guess. She was conflicted and she felt vulnerable. But at least, give the man a little chance! Knowing his past (not the rake part), he at least deserved that. But no, she had to hurt him more than once to get to the point!

In between, they make some progress about the investigation. Mark contacted his best friend, Rhys, who is also a rake and mixes with even faster lot that his own. Rhys tells him he’d make inquiries since he attended some of those secret and dirty parties Reddington used to throw and attend. He can definitely bring in some lead. Mark takes Cassandra to this party, also about open and free sex with bondage, only no violent activities without consent. Yup, she made Mark take her to those, to ‘help him’ with the investigation. Rhys attends this party, and Mark introduces him to Cassandra and asks her to trust him. Katryn the b*tch was also present, with the bevy of her current lovers. She makes it clear that she still wants to f*ck Mark and taunts him with her words. It should’ve disturbed Cassandra, but I didn’t really see anything like that coming from her. There was an open demonstration of such a ‘play act’ later, which arouses Cassandra. When they’re home, they have hot sex, where Mark tells Cassandra that there’s nothing to be ashamed of about this.

We also meet Cassandra’s sister, Amanda, who’s staying with Aunt Claire now. Amanda came off more interesting than Cassandra. She seemed witty, even if a bit aloof. She knew about Mark and asks Cassandra to introduce her. Mark was a bit surprised when Cassandra asks him to meet Amanda. He didn’t expect to meet any of her family, seeing what their arrangement is about but he’s glad no matter. When Amanda meets Mark, she’s impressed by his charms, and Cassandra saw this carefree man, as Mark once was before the betrayal. It makes Cassandra wistful but still, she’s determined not to carry on after 3 months. But Mark had other intentions such as: drag her to the altar if it’s necessary, if she’s pregnant. He has this intention no matter what but he knows Cassandra isn’t interested in marriage again and might not approve of him, like Katryn. The poor guy tries to convince himself, isn’t that what he wanted too, of not thinking about getting married and having a family ever again? Then why does it weigh so heavy on him now?

Some of the leads take them to these twins, Lintons, who used to work with Reddington. It seems like they’re into white slavery and shipping unsuspecting women to France. The vile information sure does make all of them ill. Also, it was probable that Reddington was killed because his French masters didn’t get the last delivery as it was planned. One day, Mark secures the address of a brothel, which ‘specializes’ in such things and goes there to investigate. He secures a girl, who incidentally, was a victim. It was clear that she was under some sort of drug but she gradually opens up to Mark and informs him about some of the horrors she had been through. The Linton twins brought her into this path when she was working in their house as a maid. Then she spoke of another man, who goes by the nick The Cat. Mark is stunned to find that the stuffy arsed Southwood, Katryn’s husband, is the mastermind behind it all! Mark decides he needs to make Katryn’s vile acquaintance (now, after knowing Cassandra, he doesn’t really understand how was it that he once was so crazy about a slut like Katryn?) once more if he needs to bring out information about Southwood. Before leaving, Mark asks that girl, Caitlin, to runaway somehow. He gives her Cassandra’s address knowing she would take her in if Caitlin gives Mark’s reference. When he’s back home, they again have arguments over who’s the boss. As Cassandra was still determined about breaking it off, Mark is hurt by her words. Even though Cassandra regrets them later, I still wanted to kill her! Then Mark decides to pay Katryn a call, something that leads to disaster...

In the meantime, Cassandra was sulking at her home as Mark was missing for long hours now. No one knows where he is, not even Rhys, who just came to call on her. Amanda is incidentally there too, and by now, knows about the whole business. She takes an instant dislike towards Rhys, who takes an instant liking towards her. I’m kind of interested to see how this ‘liking-disliking’ goes between them. *winkwink* Rhys informs them while he was coming out of another brothel that specializes in things that Reddington liked (there were two, Mark and he split it between them) and he heard some that might help this investigation. This information, along with Mark missing worries them. At that moment, Caitlin, badly beaten, stumbles on Cassandra’s door with more vital information to part... Kinda convenient but what the heck! *shrugs* After taking care of her, they argue upon what’s to be done and boy, I was frustrated! It’s important to help Mark, no matter the fact that he can take care of himself! But they kept arguing for like zillion hours over what’s to be done, with Cassandra and Amanda stomping their feet so that they’re also taken in this quest. Can you tell I wanted to kick their TSTL arses? Tell me what’s the most important thing here, again? God!! I wanted Mark rescued for crying out loud! When we get to see how he’s doing, it was plain that he needed help and fast!

Anyway, the last part of the book was nice. I liked the actions, even though there were some eye-rolling moments. It’s good that after the moronic things Cassandra did throughout the book, she didn’t end up dead. After everything was sorted out, Mark walks away, not knowing that Cassandra, after this latest debacle, has finally decided it’s no use trying to deny Mark her heart. When the news of Reddington’s death is out afterwards, there is scandal anyway, though Mark always tried his best so that Cassandra’s reputation isn’t ruined by association with him when their time is up. Wasn’t that a sweet gesture? I thought so too. Now, even though I wished this estrangement part wasn’t inserted, I thought maybe Cassandra needed to stew over a little for making so much trouble. Serves her right! 3.75 stars.

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I'm a simple girl. I love to read in my spare time and do reviews the books I read. I also write, mostly songs/poems, though I'm not published. I love music and traveling. Sometimes, I wish I could live inside a book, having my own HEA. :)
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