Title: Carnally Ever After
Author: Jackie Barbosa
Series: Ever After Novellas, Book 1
Genre: Erotic Historical Romance
Release Date: 20 September 2011
Jilted at the altar, Lady Louisa Bennett seeks the solace of a quiet, empty chapel and instead finds Alistair de Roche, her fiancé’s best man and the subject of her fantasies from the moment she met him. Alistair knows bedding his best friend’s betrothed is well beyond the pale, but Louisa has haunted his dreams for months. Soon, Louisa and Alistair are caught up in a consuming love affair that threatens their families’ plans and their own hearts. Can they find a way to live happily, and carnally, ever after?
Carnally Ever After is a quick erotic read that was ultimately satisfying; I did have some issues with it, however they didn't detract from my overall enjoyment too much. At a mere 68 pages, per my Kindle, the story flies by and there is - surprisingly - an actual story packed in here too.
Louisa is left at the alter, not so much jilted as forgotten by her fiancé. She comes to the conclusion in her discussion with his best friend, Alistair de Roche, that it's because of her plump figure and general unattractiveness. Now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely get feeling self-conscious about weight; but just once I'd like to see a heroine that's overweight and comfortable in her own skin. In all other regards though I like Louisa. She goes after what she wants when she finds herself in this untenable position, and is fearless in pursuing her desires.
Alistair, of course, has been attracted to Louisa and her generous curves since he first met her - but she was already his friend's fiancé, so he's kept his thoughts - and his hands - to himself. Until Louisa demands that he prove she's attractive to him. I honestly don't have much of a feel for Alistair, other than we're told he's good with making money and he's incredibly attracted to Louisa. This is a downside of the length of the novel. I liked how he treated Louisa - even if I didn't quite like how he dealt with his own fiancé.
I felt quite immersed in the story and the time period, though there wasn't a lot of page to develop the world. The characters felt slightly anachronistic, but honestly that wasn't what I was reading for; the sexy times were quite sexy though perhaps a little rushed. I did quite enjoy the last "Epiphany" epilogue that was included in this edition, which takes place some months after Louisa gives birth.
My main issue with the story, and it admittedly comes up in almost all stories I read that contain a self-conscious, overweight heroine, was the implication that only lush women are feminine. Now, I thought the author was doing really good for a while, showing that Alistair is attracted to her, and other men are attracted to other body types of women, but then about mid-way through there was a comment regarding her being the ideal for "loving" and again in the "Epiphany" epilogue some generalized comment about all men loving big breasts and no breast being too big. I'm sure these were meant innocently enough, and the man was speaking as a man that is in love and attracted is wont to do, but it grated at me. It wasn't enough to ruin my enjoyment of the book though, and I will definitely be reading more by Jackie Barbosa in the future.
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