Louisa Connelly, a recently widowed Jane Austen scholar, needs some relief from her stifling world. When a friend calls to offer her a temporary escape from her Montana ranch, she is whisked into a dizzying world of sumptuous food, flowing wine…and endless temptation.
She's an honored guest at Paradise Hall, an English resort boasting the full experience of an authentic Georgian country-house weekend. Liveried servants tend to every need of houseguests clad in meticulous period costume: snug breeches, low-cut silken gowns and negligible undergarments.
It's Mac Salazar, a journalist immersing himself fully, deeply, lustily in the naughty pleasures of upstairs-downstairs dalliances, who piques Louisa's curiosity—and libido—most. He's a dilettante straight out of a novel: uninhibited, unapologetic and nearly insatiable. But Lou's not romantic about this much, at least: Paradise Hall is a gorgeous fantasy, nothing more. A lover like Mac is pure fiction. And the real world beckons….
Louisa – who is called LouLou or Lou throughout the book – is an Austen scholar and recent widow as her husband died in an accident. Seeing her depressed, her friends (Chris and Peter) think to reanimate her back to the living by inviting her to get out of her Montana ranch and partake in what she enjoys the most – a Jane Austen themed getaway in England.
Chris and Peter are renovating a Georgian home (rumored to be where Jane Austen once stayed), and urge her to join them make a first run of the place, utilizing her historical know how-to make sure things are accurate to the time period. They explain there will be several guests there as well, dressing the part and living life (games, food, dress) as if they were really in Jane Austen’s era.
Because the Georgian estate was where she married her husband, Lou agrees to go, hoping her dead husband’s ghost will haunt her. But there is no room for ghosts at Hidden Paradise, only naughty guests who partake in any conceivable sex act with any available partner.
Among the guests, Lou meets Mac Darcy Salazar, a journalist who is hired by the owners of the estate to get the word out on their about-to-open resort as well as Rob, the Head Footman (servant) hired at Hidden Paradise.
At first, Mac’s let’s-just-have-sex-with-no-strings-attached attracts Lou, since she walks in on Mac and another guest having sex and she knows exactly what she’s getting into. But when things start to get serious between them and Lou fears she’s not honoring her husband’s memory, she suddenly takes a step back – especially when she catches Mac in the action (again) without her.
Wanting to keep her adventures at Hidden Paradise untethered, she turns to Rob, the gorgeous and very young Footman everyone at the resort wants to get their hands on. Lou takes his virginity, and teaches him the many pleasures of sex.
Niggling at the back of her mind though, is her fantasy of having a ménage with two men. In her fantasies, she’d love to have Mac and Rob at the same time, but since things ended with Mac, Lou thinks her fantasy will never come true.
Meanwhile, Mac has been reeling from the loss of his time with Lou as he started having feelings for her as well. Seeing her with Rob, a much younger and handsome man, he wishes he hadn’t screwed (literally) things up with Lou. If only there was something he could do to make Lou be his again . . .
What I liked about Hidden Paradise:
1. Discovery. Lou and Mac make a discovery on the grounds of the Georgian estate, and it was exciting to see them handling things. Made me wonder what would I do if I found a treasure?
- But that wasn’t the only Discovery made at the estate. Lou finds out something about her late husband that made me go OMFG! My heart just broke for her.
2. Cover. It’s amazing and definitely a Cover Lust for me! As soon as I saw the cover, I just knew I had to read this book.
What I disliked about Hidden Paradise:
1. Names. It was very hard to get into a sex scene with Lou, Mac, and Rob. For some reason, the names make me think of plumbers or mechanics – and there’s nothing wrong with plumbers or mechanics, but there’s supposed to be a girl in there somewhere. I’m probably nitpicking, but I would have preferred if the author had kept Louisa as her name instead of Lou.
2. Format. There was a jumping back of forth of POV’s within chapters. I don’t mind a change of POV, but doing it in such a close succession made it seem like tennis match reading (going back and forth).
3. Mac. As much as I tried, I just couldn’t get down with this character. First, they called him Darcy (his middle name) – no doubt trying to tie in the Jane Austen (JA) theme together – but he was nothing close to JA’s Darcy. He was twice divorced and had a daughter with one of his ex-wives. This already raises red flags with me as it makes me wonder why is he failing in his relationships? But aside from that, he just acts like a horny teenager, fucking anything in sight. You would think a man of his age – going through two divorces and a child – would maybe (?) settle down somewhat? Maybe? *le sigh*
4. Germaphobe. My germaphobic side reared it’s ugly head while reading Hidden Paradise. I just couldn’t understand what the purpose of this resort was. Was it a costume sex club? Are those even legal?
There was so much talk of getting permits and grants to continue the renovation and how they wanted to open the house up to guests, etc. But all the while I’m thinking, “They are going to lend out the same clothes to people who want to stay there, meanwhile they are all having sex in them?” Didn’t we learn something from Monica Lewinsky and her famous stained dress? And imagine the bed sheets (if they make it to the bed). Definitely recommend taking a black light if you ever stay there, and don’t touch the furniture. Just gross. LOL
5. Ménage. The ménage (which was the only reason I kept reading) between Rob, Mac, and Lou was anti-climatic. I wish there had been ‘more’ to it, instead it didn’t read well and wasn’t very hottt. *sad julie*
Rating: 2.5 Kisses
Fellow Readers, I realize I have weird hang-ups that get in the way of me enjoying a book, so if you aren’t a germaphobe like me, don’t mind jumping POV’s, and can look past names, then you will enjoy this book.
Please disregard my review and make sure to get your copy of Hidden Paradise which releases on Tuesday, September 18, 2012.
*this book was provided to Read Our Lips! per publisher via NetGalley*