I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.It Stings So Sweet by Stephanie Draven
Published by Berkley Trade on February 5th 2013
Genres: Historical Romance
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They vibrated with incendiary Jazz. They teemed with sexual abandon.The Twenties were roaring and the women—young, open, rebellious, and willing—set the pace and pushed the limits with every man they met…
In the aftermath of a wild, liquor-soaked party, three women from very different social classes are about to live out their forbidden desires.
Society girl, Nora Richardson's passionate nature has always been a challenge to her ever-patient husband. Now he wants out of the marriage and she has just this one night to win him back. The catch? He wants topunish her for her bad behavior. Nora is offended by her husband's increasingly depraved demands, but as the night unfolds, she discovers her own true nature and that the line between pain and pleasure is very thin indeed.
Meanwhile, Clara Cartwright, sultry siren of the silent screen, is introduced to a mysterious WWI Flying Ace. If Clara, darling of the scandal sheets, knows anything, it’s men. And she’s known plenty. But none of them push her boundaries like the aviator, who lures her into a ménage with a stranger in a darkened cinema then steals her jaded heart.
Working class girl Sophie O'Brien has more important things on her mind than pleasures of the flesh. But when her playboy boss, the wealthy heir to the Aster family fortune, confronts her with her diary of secret sex fantasies, she could die of shame. To her surprise, he doesn't fire her; instead, he dares her to re-enact her boldest fantasies and Sophie is utterly seduced.
One party serves as a catalyst of sexual awakening. And in an age when anything goes, three women discover that anything is possible…
What looks to be separate stories about three women during the Roaring 20’s era slowly begins to intersect around the middle of the second one.
Nora Richardson, Clara Cartwright and Sophie O’Brien led different completely separate lives. They couldn’t be more different and their paths never would have crossed if not for certain men who altered their life courses. What they do share is an unusual perspective about sex and romance, at least it’s considered to be “abnormal” in the Prohibition and Temperance era.
The set up
Nora, a wealthy socialite, is fighting to keep her husband from abandoning their broken marriage. He “married up” and can’t keep up the genteel facade any longer. Clara is a silent screen star who came up the hard way and the tough veneer protects the vulnerable woman underneath until she meets a brash and interesting man who’s determined to crack it. Sophie is young and determined to be a voice for the underdogs, those being women and employees at the hotel where she works, that is until she has an unusual encounter with the owner’s son.
Each of these women stumble into their sexual awakening and embrace what they find. Their men are also going through the same discoveries with them and at times it’s not pretty as they grapple with perceptions of perversion or abnormal behavior. But, the common ground is, it’s highly satisfying for all of them.
What surprised me
I have little interest in this period in our history other than the Art Deco style that emerged from it (the most extraordinary jewelry and interior designs we’ve ever seen) and was concerned whether I’d be able to connect to the characters and issues they faced. I shouldn’t have worried as I quickly recalled the slang, dress style (flappers) from the old B&W films of my youth.
One of the stories was dangerously close to being pure erotica and I discovered it wasn’t going to work for me without the romance. Fortunately it wasn’t an issue.
The bottom line
I won’t tell you how these stories and characters connect because you should enjoy that discovery on your own, as I did. The characters are lushly drawn, the sex highly erotic without being too graphic (BDSM elements, ménage and role playing), the men sexy and appealing and the stories just plain interesting. I loved the loose connections that ended up making a difference. This book is unconventional and for me, it was my diamond in the rough for the month!