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    Review of THE PERFECT LOVER by Stephanie Laurens

    William Morrow, 2003

    Simon Cynster has inherited a house and now he needs a wife. He's never considered his childhood acquaintance Portia Ashford as a potential mate before, but when she proposes that he seduce her and teach her about the sexual side of a relationship, his thoughts come to a quick focus. Portia is an independent woman. Simon is much too demanding to be right for her, but she can't deny the attraction.

    Author Stephanie Laurens (see more reviews of novels by Laurens) is comfortable with sex, delighting in descriptions of escalating foreplay and frequent intercourse as Portia and Simon act through their charade. In THE PERFECT LOVER, she is a little less comfortable with story. Portia and Simon settle into frequent sex for the first two hundred pages, then decide to solve a murder between sexual interludes in the second half of the book.

    Set in 1830s England, the games of nobility and manners play out in a country summer party. THE PERFECT LOVER is well enough written, with some amusing word choices (if her breath really comes in ragged pants, shouldn't she repair those pants soon?). The book's real strong point, though, is the sex. Readers who find detailed accounts of sexual activity offensive will want to avoid THE PERFECT LOVER as will readers hoping for a plot. Readers who like titillation in a safely historical setting may find THE PERFECT LOVER a delight.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 4/16/03

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