Monday, May 12, 2008

Phantasmagoria by Madelynne Ellis

“1800 - Three years after she escaped to London with her bisexual lovers, Bella Rushdale wakes one morning to find their delicate ménage a trois about to shatter. Vaughan, Marquis of Pennerley has left abruptly and without explanation. Determined to reclaim him and preserve their relationship, Bella pursues him to his family seat on the Welsh Border, where she finds herself embroiled in his preparations for a diabolical gothic celebration on All Hallows Eve - a phantasmagoria. Among the shadows and phantoms, Bella and her lovers will peel away the deceits and desires of past and future.”

With the market being overrun with erotica left and right, there is one such erotic book line I have really come to enjoy. Virgin Black Lace has some of the hottest and most scandalous books that are being published and are seriously not for the faint of heart. The authors take the traditional romance and twist it ways you won’t see coming. One such Black Lace author you should take a chance on is Madelynne Ellis. Her newest release, Phantasmagoria is a very dark gothic set in 1800 with a woman and the two men she loves to fu… er.. lusts for. I actually read Phantasmagoria before the first book, A Gentlemen’s Wager, and actually prefer the sequel. You really don’t have to read A Gentlemen’s Wager to enjoy the dark “sexin” that goes on between these pages. “Anything Goes” of “Boinking Like Bunnies” would have possibly been a better title because every character gets down and dirty with everyone. And guess what? I loved it!

Bella Rushdale is the very much worldly miss (horny non-virgin) who lives in London with her two lovers, the Viscount Lucerne (good boy) and Vaughan, the Marquis (dark, broody fellow who likes nasty sex). All three have been lovers for over three years, and enjoying ferocious lovemaking every chance they can get- the really skanky down and dirty type sex. Vaughan is the type of guy that would rub your face in the mud and you would ask for more he is so deliciously tortured.

Talk about a regency soap opera! Lucerne wants Bella to be his wife but lusts after Vaughan. Vaughan is obsessed with Lucerne, but he can’t let go of Bella. Bella is caught between the two men, she adores Lucerne, but her soul belongs to Vaughan. Bella wants Vaughan on her terms and won’t let him go. Vaughan is tired of the way things are between his lovers and sets a plan into motion where Bella and Lucerne must choose whom they want to be with. He invites them to his family home at Pennerley where he will hold an All Hallows Eve party called a Phantasmagoria. He hopes Lucerne will come rushing to him and proclaim his love But Lucerne is busy having sex with other people, and only Bella arrives. Bella is willing to do anything to make Vaughan love her, even if it means degrading herself.
Phantasmagoria pushes the envelope in so many ways and this is one tale where sexual perversions are out in the open. This may be an uncomfortable read for some, but I was enthralled. Almost every page is filled with talks of sex and the actual sex acts seem a bit depraved in a way. One such scene where Vaughan enjoys Bella in the kitchen pantry should raise some eyebrows and the scenes between Lucerne and Vaughan should make some gasp. And when the time for the Phantasmagoria comes, hold onto you seats!
Phantasmagoria is one of the best ménage a trois stories I have read in a long time. Madelynne Ellis is one writer who excels at pushing the envelope with taboo subject matter. If you are in the mood for a darker erotic tale, definitely give Phantasmagoria a read.

4 out of 5 stars

Katiebabs (KB)


Bev(QB) said...

I am so glad you reviewed this, KB. Since I am so enamored of AGW, I really had no clue how Phantasmagoria would stand on its own. I was already WAY too involved with the characters to read Phantasmagoria in any way but how the characters and their relationship are effected throughout the book.

So, I'm glad you could appreciate it without prior knowledge of the characters.

BTW, I thought I was unshockable, but there is one scene (between Vaughan and Bella) near the end of the book that had my jaw dropping. Don't want to spoil so I'll be cryptic-- let's just say that Vaughan might be too Gothic for the Gardellas. LOL. Man I hope that's not too vague!

Christine said...

Hi Kate.
I noticed you posted this book on your top picks on myspace and was wondering when you were going to review it. This book sounds like it has very interesting dynamics between the three characters. I may just have to check this one out!

Katie(babs) said...

Bev(qb): I just finished AGW and was disappointed after reading Phanta.. (what a long title!) I really enjoyed the menage relationship and that Vaughan is such a naughty boy.
I think I know which scene you are talking about. Could it be the one where Vaughan carries Bella to his bed and they proceed to have skanky sex and he realizes something about her? ;)

Katie(babs) said...

Oh Christine you do notice my top My Space picks? *JOY*

Christine said...

*rolls eyes at Kate*

Bev(QB) said...

KB: "I just finished AGW and was disappointed after reading Phanta.. (what a long title!) I really enjoyed the menage relationship and that Vaughan is such a naughty boy."

LOL. Now see, for me, it's getting to know these unique characters in AGW, and then watching their further development in Phantasmagoria. Although development isn't really the right word, is it? Madelynne stayed true to the characters while placing them in a situation that amplified their personality traits to the nth degree.

KB: "I think I know which scene you are talking about. Could it be the one where Vaughan carries Bella to his bed and they proceed to have skanky sex and he realizes something about her? ;)"

Yep, yep. That was the scene where I realized I wasn't quite unshockable after all.

Brie said...

Oh Darn. Now I'm going to have to go get the book in order to find out what the shocker is.

Very intriguing review, Katie.

sula said...

mmmm, this sounds tasty good. i wants! good review, kb, now you got me jonesing for yet another book. *sigh*

Katie(babs) said...

Bev: In AGW Vaughan was such an ass and I really couldn't see why Bella would do what she did with him. But in Phantasmagaoria I really liked him and how he was torn between his two loves.
I would have loved to see what their relationship was like in between these two stories. But Ellis can sure write some shocking scenes. I also thought Vaughan's relationship with his sister was interesting and almost borderline incestuous.
As for the shocking scene, I wasn't as shocked as I thought I would be. Hey, I should have mentioned the shocker in my review to bring more people in like Brie ;)

Katie(babs) said...

Sula: Very tasty and dirty. Vaughan is such a dirty boy. :D

Bev(QB) said...

KB, Madelynne has a short story, Indiscretions, up on her site that takes place during the time period between the two books-

BTW, wasn't Henry an interesting, likable, and COLORFUL (hee) character? Oh, and Madelynne just finished writing Fortuna's story.

ames said...

Woot! I just finished reading a Gentleman's Wager and I already ordered Phantasmagoria. Good stuff.