I have had some of the best reading I've had in awhile happen this weekend and I'm basically bursting at the seams to tell you all about it. And some of you are going to be all, "Oh man, Sara- these look LONG" and to that I say, shut your mouth and listen to me for once. I always end up being right anyways. This is actually a trilogy but only books one and two are available and that's why this review is only covering those two. Obviously.
HOTELLES - Emma Mars
Paris, a hotel room, the middle of the afternoon . . .
So begins the story of Annabelle, a young escort in Paris who has accepted her final proposition before marrying the powerful and generous man of her dreams, media mogul David Barlet. But the mysterious handwritten notes she has been receiving—notes that detail personal fantasies no one could possibly know—don't prepare her for the fact that her new client is her fiancé's brother, Louie. Through visits to the Hotel des Charmes, where each chamber is dedicated to one of French history's great seductresses, Louie awakens Annabelle's body and her psyche, delivering her to heights of ecstasy and fits of passion.He pushes her beyond her limitations to tap into her deep seductive power—and she discovers that true freedom comes only when you fully surrender to desire.
Funny, sensual, candid, and revealing, Hotelles is a titillating novel of mysteries and surprises by a radiant new voice.
Initial thoughts were absolute intrigue because this trilogy is penned as an Erotic Romance, so right off the bat if that kind of thing scares you, just calm down. To be honest, this first book isn't super erotic, at least not compared to things I have read before. Which admittedly, makes me sound like a total book slut, but that's alright. While there are parts of the story that talk about masturbation, and it gets a little kinky once Elle starts receiving clues for her "assignments", it wasn't as erotic as I thought it was going to be.
Instead, it's a piece of literary loveliness. It's an entire relationship forming in the slowest way possible. Yes, the book clocks in at 579 pages and I am the first one to tell you that there are some sections that could be completely cut out to at least get this thing down to 400 pages. With that said, please don't give up on the book. Yes, it's wordy. Yes, there are parts of it that you think, "My life is wasting away right now reading this.". Yes, there are points where you wish the author would just get to the damn point already. But in the end, when I got to the last couple of chapters and I'm seeing how all of the sweeping story line, all of the back history, all of the psychological warfare is playing out, I rushed to the end. So much so that I went back and re-read the last three chapters just to be sure it really was everything that I was hoping it was eventually going to be. And it was. And I about died when in the last two pages, Elle discovers she's only gone through room one.
579 pages = room one?! That's it?!
Oh yes. Because it is a trilogy and you know that there is so much more for Elle. She'll not get a happily ever after just like that. Nope.
Another note I want to make is that this book reads very similarly to the book Vox by Nicholson Baker, which I read when I was 16. Totally not appropriate reading material for a 16 year old, let alone a virgin. But the handwritten notes within Hotelles reminded me of Vox, which is essentially a transcript of sorts between two strangers who start out having phone sex but turns into a telling of fantasies and such. It's very strange, but the entire time I'm reading Hotelles, that's what I'm thinking of. Also, it reminded me of L. Marie Adeline's book S.E.C.R.E.T. in which the main character goes on "adventures", each one pertaining to a lesson to further her sexuality. Which is very much what is happening to Elle in this book. So if either of those were good books for you, you'll probably enjoy this book on that alone because it's the same basis, essentially. You can get Hotelles on Amazon and Barnes & Noble right now.
ELLE - Emma Mars
A spellbinding, erotic, and revealing love story full of drama and poignancy--the sequel to Hotelles-in which a young French woman continues her carnal education in a mysterious Parisian hotel.
In a hotel room in Paris, a young woman named Elle experiences the most exquisite freedom and sensual pleasure she has ever known, thanks to Louis, the man who has conquered her completely.
So many things in life have changed since they first met. Her engagement to Louis's deceptive brother, David, has been broken. Her mother has died. Yet Elle is wholly fulfilled with Louis, the master who heightens her senses and unleashes her deep, seductive power.
In the alluring Hotel des Charmes, Louis takes Elle beyond her wildest fantasies. Exploring the boudoirs devoted to other courtesans--Mademoiselle Josephine, Deschamps, Kitty Fisher, Cora Pearl, and Valtesse de la Bigne--Elle willingly opens herself further. In sublime self-abandonment she discovers absolute ecstasy, absolute sweetness, absolute desire.
Then David unexpectedly returns, stirring up painful memories and threatening their bliss. Elle fears her education may soon be over. . .
She does not understand that it has only just begun.
If you have not read the first book, Hotelles, do NOT read this book. I repeat, do NOT read this book. It will ruin the first book for you and you won't fully understand this book. Sure, you'll get through it and it's still a great story, but if you don't know the journey Elle had been on leading her to this, a lot of things will be lost on you and you won't understand the importance of a lot of it. So just do yourself a favor and read the first book first.
This book. *sigh* I have to say, even from book one I was Team Louie. I don't know if it's because he seemed like a hot mess looking to be fixed by the charms of a woman, or because he reminded me of things in favorite characters from other novels I've enjoyed and he kind of sums them all up. He's smart, he's engaging, he's mysterious, he's attractive in what I picture to be an unconventional way, I think he's a sucker for romance at heart but doesn't want to be, he's a bit of a black sheep/bad boy. Once Elle comes around and sees all of this in Louie and comes willingly to him, I have to admit I was absolutely thrilled.
Here's the thing though, while in the first book I kind of liked Elle because she seemed kind of naive, almost to the point of blindingly stupid. Lots of red flags in her relationship with David seemingly go unnoticed and you have to literally hit her with facts before the wheels in her head tell her to look around, all is not what it seems and it's completely freaking obvious. In this book, it's like a totally different person. Again, my comparison to L. Marie Adeline's S.E.C.R.E.T. trilogy is still going strong. In that trilogy, the main character becomes this confident sex pot in book two, has everything going for her, has this great guy giving her what she needs to be satisfied and then she does things that make you think she's self sabotaging. Which kind of makes you wonder, is there a point where a person can be too sexually confident?
Some unfortunate things happen to Louie in this book which seem... I guess I can understand how they came about given what we know about him, but they still seem like a weird book filler. David is a total asshole in this book and though I saw it in the first book, a lot of his unfavorable characteristics come out in full force in this book. Elle absolutely hates him and I feel like she kind of needs to let that relax. I mean, she's the moron who agreed to get married after a whirlwind courtship, proceeds to do her "adventures" with Louie instead of saying, "Hey- your brother is sending me horribly inappropriate messages", and when she finds out the spider web that had become her life? She places all blame on David instead of saying, "Alright, so I need to do a better job at learning about someone before I get engaged". I'm just saying Elle is kind of irrational and nuts.
Which makes me worry for book three. I obviously need book three in my life. It makes me think this trilogy will end like L. Marie Adeline's, where everything goes to shit and the relationship I've come to adore goes to hell and I'm left hating the female lead because she's a selfish, terrible person. So I am begging the author to not end this trilogy like that. Absolutely begging.
Elle can be purchased on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as well. I wish I could give you contact information for the author, Emma Mars, but this is an author who lives in France writing under this pseudonym. Which adds a bit of mystery, doesn't it?