Review: In the Flesh by Portia Da Costa

Posted March 4th, 2012 in book review / 4 comments

In the Flesh

by Portia Da Costa

Publisher: HQN Books (March 2012)
Genre: Historical Romance
Pages: 379 (eBook)
Source: NetGalley
Purchase at: Amazon / Book Depository
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2 stars)


Why not become one?

Posing nude to appease her now ex-fiancé perhaps wasn’t the most prudent idea Beatrice Weatherly has ever had. With the photographs scrutinized up and down the ton and her brother running them into debt, Beatrice’s hopes of making a respectable marriage are dashed.

After one glance at Beatrice’s infamous racy cabinet cards, wealthy, powerful Edward Ellsworth Richie is soon obsessed with Beatrice’s voluptuous figure. His indecent proposal—one month of hedonistic servitude in exchange for enough money to pay her brother’s debts—is one she can hardly refuse.

Determined not to let the rogue best her, Beatrice sets out for the infamous House of Madame Chamfleur to learn how to appease Edward’s well-known appetite. Soon the couple is playing out exquisite fantasies…and feeling emotion that goes deeper than flesh. But Edward harbors a shocking secret, and Beatrice must decide if she’s prepared to give up everything for a man who can offer her nothing, but who means everything.

The Good
Usually I would do my own little recap of the book but there is no need. The summary hits it right on the button. So let’s get straight to the review.

One, Two, Threesome…
I have to say, the characters of this book were very interesting. Beatrice was a strong, vivacious woman that I think many could respect. She knows how to survive and have fun doing it. She was very open-minded for a young lady in the 1890s and I admired her willingness to try anything and her view on enjoying life.

Richie knows what he wants and isn’t ashamed to grab life with both hands. His passion for Beatrice was so raw and sweet at the same time. He may have secrets but he is a good man overall. He’s strong, ruthless, and has a business savvy that all men would revere. And Richie and Beatrice together make an adorable couple that don’t hold back their passions.

It was actually Jamie, Charlie, and Polly who where the funniest threesome. And I mean THREESOME. All three were mischievous in their own way and had me smiling every time they entered the scene. Jamie is still a mystery to me, and I liked that. Kept me guessing, wanting to know his story.

Times Long Passed…
I did enjoy the banter between all of the characters. That was probably the best part of In the Flesh. The writing was beautiful and the lush description was very well done. I really got a feel for the time period. I truly do love reading historicals because I find it captivating to read about how people lived in times long passed.

The Bad
My biggest problem is the lack of plot. Okay, yeah, Beatrice’s reputation has been ruined by her nude photos, so she sells her charms to Richie in exchange for money. Cool. But that was literally the extent of this book. Nothing else to add. We get a little side story with Beatrice’s brother and some servants. We have the villain that wants to tear the couple apart. But he doesn’t even try anything evil until the end of the book. And even that was lackluster.

There were barely any obstacles or huge events that tested the love of Beatrice and Richie. Just one small inconvenience that was eventually taken care of quite quickly. In the Flesh is only about the lead up to a month of sex, then the actual month of sex. Then the couple both start to have feelings for each other. Bam! Done. I told you the whole story. Where was the drama, the action, the twists?

Now, I do realize that the cover and description are very sexual, but I have read many book summaries and seen lots of book covers even more racy than In the Flesh and they still followed the guidelines of a true romance, not erotica.

The Snuggly
Well, if you are looking for sex, you found it. This book is chalk full of sexual situations. A lot of them I felt belonged more in a soft erotica sort of book. I just don’t see how this book can be called a romance, it goes way beyond that. I am in no way a prude, I just didn’t like being surprised with such graphic sex when I expected to read a romance (Which in my experience has sex but not to this extent. It’s more about the love story). Did this book have romance, sure. But the focus was the sex, that simple. I did like Beatirice and Richie together though. They were quite cute together.

Though there were a few redeemable qualities in this book, overall I would not recommend it for romance readers. But if you are looking for a soft version of erotica with a little plot, then this might be the book for you. So this one will have to be a judgement call for most of you. Me, if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have requested this book from NetGalley. It was not what I was looking for.

“Who is that man over there?” demanded Charlie, “See the one I mean? The tall impertinent looking fellow by the ballroom door, talking to Sir Horace Rumbelow.”

Beatrice Weatherly suppressed a sigh. Her brother always got peevish when he drank too fast, and the champagne was disappearing down his throat at an alarming rate.

“I advised you to wear a more conservative dress. Something dark and modest,” Charlie went on “and now look what’s happened. I swear that if he doesn’t stop ogling you this minute, I’ll go across there and box his ears for him!”

I’d like to see you try, brother dear. He looks as if he could swat you like a gadfly with just one hand.

“Please, ignore him, Charlie. He isn’t bothering me in the slightest, so I don’t see why he should bother you.” Keeping her face carefully averted, Beatrice sipped her own champagne. She was determined to make every glass last as long as she could tonight. Just look what had happened the last time she’d drunk it.

But, truth be told, her bold scrutinizer across the reception room did bother her and it wasn’t an urge to box his ears she felt. No, it was something far more alarming. Her heart pounded and her entire body felt deliciously strange every time she caught his hot gaze on her. Something that seemed to happen every few moments or so because try as she might, she couldn’t help looking back at him. And he hadn’t taken his eyes off her since they’d entered the room.

Of course, when she and Charlie had been announced, almost everybody had swiveled around stare at them. “Oh look,” she imaged them all saying, “There she is, Beatrice Weatherly, the ‘Siren of South Mulberry Street’… the shameless hussy who posed naked for those dreadful cabinet cards…” Men who probably owned copies of the said cards had eyed her with salacious interest when their wives weren’t looking. Their wives had frowned and pursed their lips as if worried that their men would be so overcome with lust that they’d flock around the indecent Siren, unable to help themselves. Even the discreet servants circulating with their trays had seemed to study her covertly.

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4 Responses to “Review: In the Flesh by Portia Da Costa”

  1. Nerd Girls

    Hm, sounds like an interesting book and definitely one that borders on erotica rather than romance.

    From reading your review it sounds like the book was just about sex rather than an actual plot happening. The cover is really pretty and eye-catching though (I’m a sucker for a good book cover).

    Jenny at Books to the Sky

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