May 6, 2013
Review: Beyond Temptation by Lisette Ashton
I was attracted to Beyond Temptation as I'd had a good experience with femdom labelled books from the publisher, Mischief (aka Harper Collins). The period look of the cover suggested to me that it was set in 1930s, or similar. Actually it's mainly set in present day Scotland. Bit of a let down. Anyhow, the plot.
There are several plot lines that come (alright, cum) together at Manor. This means quite a lot of switching around of third person pov and it made it difficult to keep track of. There are also about six million characters and they have a lot of sex. With so many characters, it was difficult to get to the point of really feeling for any of them. Or understanding them.
The story also tried to pack in a fair amount of convoluted plot. It was a bit overwhelming. Half the interest in the plot (as opposed to the erotica) is driven by a ex-lover of Amelia and Yale, who is she who must not be named (SWMNBN) so that it can create suspense in the plot. It would work if it wasn't pretty obvious who SWMNBN was. The other bit of plot is Robyn and Harold, owners of an art magazine - Art (good name eh?!). Harold says that he's fed up with their open marriage and issues Robyn with an ultimatum - stop fucking other men, or he'll divorce her. Since Harold sounds like an prat, I'm never quite clear why she would actually want to stay married to him. Harold certainly doesn't - he actually wants to marry his secretary Sheridan, who is a rebellious but virginal pain in the ass.
Robyn goes to blah manor to get some space. She's followed by Yale and his devotees, who barge in and create erotic chaos. Robyn is trying to be faithful, but Yale won't back off. There's combinations of nearly all the characters in some sort of clinch, at some point. Some of the sex is good, some of it is so-so, other bits are bordering on rapetastic. There's certainly very dubious consent where Robyn/Dominic/Yale/Amelia are concerned.
The leading women in the book are actually quite interesting characters. Sheridan is totally immoral, using and manipulating men and women alike. She's smart, but makes stupid impulsive decisions, which are not really in character. Robyn is okay at first, teasing the men she wants and demanding what she likes. Amelia is good too, a sadistic Domme who takes out her pain on others.
However, they all are totally spineless when it comes to erotic artist Yale. They worship at the mighty wang of Yale. They let him do whatever he wants and he's unreasonable and dictatorial. To complete strangers. This Alphahole behavior spoils the whole book for me. He's a complete asshole. I guess a lot of people love that arrogant artist trope, but it's really a turn off for me.
The other problem for me is that the motivations for the people in this novel are paper thin - they rely on most characters being really dumb and overly emotional. Pretty much irrational. Yale is supposed to love the Manor sooooo much. It's never clear why. He's in love with Angelica but still totally hung up about SWMNBN. Angelica was SWMNBN's submissive and is possibly still in love with her and is also in love with Yale. She's a dominant to the two submissives, but for Yale's mighty wang, she's submissive. The two submissives are just foils to show that Angelica isn't a 'real' domme, she's just mean and bossy (or something, they don't like to take orders from her) unlike Yale who is a real Dom TM.
I enjoyed the bits where Amelia was domming, but otherwise the pervasive mighty dickhead that was Yale and Yale worshiping was rather dull and frustrating. I wanted more Amelia. It's a short novel and there's not much space for character development, there's quite a lot of contrived plot sooo many characters.
In summary, there's lots going on. If you like complicated menage with super horny people all round, with convoluted plots and machinations then this might be for you. I found it very frustrating - I never understood enough about any of the characters to see what motivated them (beyond sex, obviously) and it skipped around between all the characters so much, I never really engaged with it. Except to shout at Yale. Arrogant rapey dickhead. I wanted Amelia to put him in his place, but she turned out as idiotic as the rest of them.
It sort of classes as femdom as Amelia is dominant most of the time and when the female characters aren't around Yale, they're pretty strong. But as a whole, there was much too much of Yale (did I mention that I didn't like him?) and male dominance with an undertone of rape for this to be particularly enjoyable.