It’s said revenge is a dish best served cold, but what if it could be served hot? Really hot? Steamy, sweaty, decadent and deliciously hot? Because “hot” is exactly what flawless young aristocrat Lord Arthur Godwick is . . . and revenge against his family is precisely what Regan Ferry, a glamorous young widow with an icy edge, is after. Her revenge involves Arthur, stripped of his privilege and pretention, in her bed and at her mercy for 10 unforgettable nights. If he refuses, the priceless painting his reckless brother traded away will be lost forever. If he agrees—when he agrees—he’ll get the painting back, but what will he lose in its place?
Author Tiffany Reisz has a lot of fun playing with, inverting and interrogating positions of power in her latest erotic romance, The Pearl. Arthur—nicknamed King Arthur—seems to be a man who has everything: youth, beauty, wealth, influence, a flawless reputation, a bright future and a storied heritage, descended from generations of men who kept the reins of power firmly in hand. The hotel that Regan inherited from her late husband, the Pearl, was a favorite haunt of Arthur’s great-grandfather Malcolm back in the day when it was a brothel, and any woman there was Malcolm’s for the asking. Regan descends from one of the Pearl’s whores and has her own bitter experience of a man buying her, via a wedding ring, and relishing his authority over her. Little wonder that she revels in turning the tables on Arthur: having him kneel before her and service her in the hotel that her late husband owned, in the very rooms where Arthur’s ancestor once held sway.
In a subtler exploration of power, the rooms are decorated with a series of paintings (real, beautiful paintings—look them up!) by female artists with their own dark stories—not dissimilar to Regan’s—of cruel and careless men who tried to break their spirits. Paintings of fear, imprisonment, objectification, entrapment or desperation in which the artist, bloody but unbowed, gets the last word. And mingled among them—watching over them—is the one Arthur is bargaining for, the irreplaceable painting his family can’t be without. It’s a portrait of Lord Malcolm himself that might, it seems, have mysterious powers and an agenda all its own.
Reisz never fails to deliver a sizzlingly hot read, and there’s plenty of erotic pleasure to be found here as Regan and Arthur explore their desires and give rein to their passions. But The Pearl is also a deeper, darker meditation on love and trust, and what it means to give yourself willingly, freely to another, to let yourself be vulnerable enough to love and forgive in exchange for love and acceptance in return.