Beyond Innocence by Emma Holly - Project A-Team

June 15, 2015
G.G.A.G. Alert - Gigantic Girth and Growing.

Yes little petunias, erotica or erotic or romantica or whatever, was not invented with 50 Shades of Grey. It's been around for eons - can anyone say Sappho. Yes, from John Wilmot to Alexander Pope to D.H. Lawrence, it's had a long and colorful existence. So when 50 Shades came along, I have to say I was a bit surprised that book seemed to be some kind of "new" thing. Romance novels have always had many sensuality levels and many authors who are exceedingly talented in writing "hot." Anya Bast, Rhyannon Byrd, Lora Leigh, Diane Whiteside, Maya Banks, Ally Blue, Lorelei Brown, Opal Carew, Sylvia Day, Lauren Dane, Shayla Black, Shiloh Walker, on and on and on. Among that group is an author by the name of Emma Holly. Ms. Holly has been writing for quite a while; it appears her first book was written in 1998. She also has written mostly contemporary and even has a book with the interesting name of Velvet Glove. In 2001 and 2002, she published two historical novels: Beyond Innocence and Beyond Seduction. I read both of them, and in 2001 I gave Beyond Innocence an A. Now we will explore that book again and see just what time has brought us.

First of all I will say this: there isn't any of what I would call kinky stuff in this, no back-door deliveries, no triple plays, although there is a tie me up scene (boy are they getting tiresome). Then I have to remember this was published 15 years ago before everyone was seeking out bedposts.  Just because there isn't any kink-key stuff don't form the idea that there isn't anything hot in this book because there are lots and lots of really scorching delights to behold in Beyond Innocence. Thank goodness there is also a plot line and some mighty fine narrative, because my eyes did start to glaze over after pages and pages of dippity-doo.

Here's the plot. Freddie, the younger brother of our manly-man hero Edward, Earl of Greystowe, has been caught in a scandalous situation - with a footman. Now, being a man of his time Edward thinks it is all part of attending Eton and participating in some of their traditions. His mind does not want to accept that Freddie might be gay. Edward loves his brother and decides the only way to hide the scandal is for Freddie to marry and marry right away. But, Edward needs a truly innocent girl/woman in order to do that - someone who is not only physically innocent but doesn't know too much about any sexual thing. Enter Florence.

Florence is really an innocent, almost too much of one. Any double entendres just go right over her head. I would have to say, she had a circle for a mouth - a perfect o, which in this book could come in handy. Florence is quickly taken in by Edward and his Aunt Hypatia as the perfect wife for Freddie. Thrown into this mix is also Edwards’s scary, conniving mistress, who he uses for a while after he meets Florence. You see, he just cannot fight the overwhelming Timothy Toad activity which flares up alllll the time after he encounters Florence. Eventually, he breaks it off with his mistress because he just doesn't feel good about their relationship - she does not take the break-up very well and viciously spreads more rumors about Freddie. So, hoping to have the rumors die down Freddie, Edward, Hypatia, and Florence vamoose to the countryside.

The dynamics in this story were pretty interesting - we have three people - Edward, Freddie, and Hypatia - who are all using Florence for their own reasons. Florence and Freddie develop a wonderful relationship, a close bond, but because Freddie is what he is the physical side to their relationship is null. Florence doesn't understand this and it makes her pretty insecure with her powers of attractiveness. On the other hand, Edward can't control his over-the-top obsession with Florence, so he comes off being rather abrupt and cold toward her, which she doesn't understand either. Hypatia is constantly guiding her toward Freddie, but all the time Hypatia knows what a lie a marriage between Freddie and Florence would be. So, when Florence's blinders are finally ripped off it is heart-rending and very dramatic scene, it's painful to watch. In this one scene, the author paints Florence's pain so vividly, we the readers can feel it.

Where the story fell apart for me was when Florence fled, seeking help from Edward's discarded mistress and her insane aunt. Edward's inability to separate Florence from the dastardly duo was flimsy at best.

The times have changed moment. I would imagine when I first read this book I found the exposure to the overabundance of sex daring. However, with the passing of time this type of thing has become common place and a little boring - so, as I said before, my eyes did glaze over and my brain shut down and I did skip a few pages. There was also a raised eyebrow or two because of Edward's gigantic Mr. Toad. It was so big that Florence could barely wrap her small hands around it. Yikes! It was mentioned numerous times that Florence had really small hands, which was disturbing. And, that leads me to a question - which would you rather have: a freakishly large Mr. Toad or itsy-bitsy hands? When I look at my hands, and they are relatively small and I make a circle and I don't touch my fingers - ouch. You are going to put something that large where? My oh my. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that part of the body dilates that much unless there is a baby's head coming out. Regardless of some odd physical visions by this reader, Beyond Innocence is still a good read even if I can't give as high a mark as I originally gave it alllll those years ago.
Time/Place: Victorian England Sensuality: Scorching Hot

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