Beyond Innocence

Beyond Seduction

Catching Midnight

In the Flesh

Personal Assets

Strange Attractions
by Emma Holly
(Berkeley Sensation, $13.00, NC-17) ISBN 0-425-19821-9
B.G. Grantham is a genius with a talent for making money and an obsession with pleasure — sexual pleasure — creating it, sustaining it, denying it, and doing anything he can to make it more powerful. The reclusive quantum physicist and avid swimmer is the Greek ideal, a genius IQ in an athlete’s body and a strikingly handsome face. He spends months working, hardly stopping to eat or sleep, and when his project is done, he likes to play. He chooses a candidate to come and stay with him and his staff at his huge and remote estate, Mosswood, and does all he can to create as much pleasure for them as possible.

But this time, rather than controlling every aspect himself, as he’s always done before, he asks Eric Berne, his lifelong friend now employed as his sexual major domo, to choose the candidate for this round of sex play, experimentation and adventures. And Eric is to choose the person who will make him, personally, most happy and satisfied. Eric and B.G. met when well-meaning parents decided that the isolated, socially inept, oddball boy genius needed a friend his own age, and persuaded Eric to befriend him. From the beginning there was a intense attraction had shimmered or crackled between them, but even though they enjoyed each other, that didn’t keep them from also enjoying others, both men and women.

Charity Wells enjoys being a sexy woman and a flirt, but she can’t imagine why a sexy hottie like Eric Berne would want to meet with her. She knows him because he and her boss had had lunch together several times, but she didn’t think Eric even knew who she was. She was wrong. He’d not only noticed, he’d also compiled a 2” thick file on Charity while he researched her as the next candidate for B.G.’s adventures. And he’d been even more detailed than usual, because from the first moment he saw her, this lush-bodied, intensely feminine, sensual woman with dark hair and violet eyes had attracted him like no other. And the pain and hurt that he saw lurking deep in her eyes attracted him as well. He wanted to protect her, to make sure no one ever had the chance to hurt her again, to give her the things she had always deserved, and had never had.

The proposition? Give B.G. the responsibility for her sexual pleasure, to indulge it or deny it, in order to intensify it, so he could examine how denial enhances desire. In return, B.G.’s company will provide Charity with a first-class college education, complete with all the bells and whistles, anywhere she wants to go. It’s something Charity has always wanted, but could never afford while stuck in low-paying, dead-end jobs. Charity decides to go for it. It sounds like fun, Eric promises that it won’t involve pain, and that if she wants to quit, all she has to do is say so, and she’ll be able to leave, paid in full. And besides, Eric himself is to be her “keeper,” an erotic manservant who will carry out B.G.’s wishes and also keep her sexually in tune, with her sensual motor revving. What awaits Charity within the walls of Mosswood is much, much more than she’d expected or even dreamed of.

The large cast of characters is well drawn, including interesting individuals who frequently react in unexpected ways. The weakest character is Sylvia, the blonde masseuse who provides part of the support for a plot to discredit B.G. and his company, but this has little impact on the rest of the story. B.G. has plans for Eric and Charity, but he’s holding them close to his chest, not revealing to anyone what the outcome will be. The sex is hot, but the foreplay is even hotter. Disobedience means punishment, of the most deliciously pleasurable kind.

Even Holly’s frequent discussions of quantum physics seem to be written to help distract the reader, delaying their “getting down to business” just as her characters must delay their pleasure. All three of the central characters are an intriguing mix of uncertainty and confidence, willing to experiment in all kinds of sexual experiences, while keeping their private agendas and feelings hidden for the most part. They are sexually confident while still remaining psychologically and socially vulnerable. Eric and B.G. are open and matter of fact about their personal sexual relationship and their bisexuality, and the MM scenes are just as hot as the MF or MMF scenes are.

Expect the unexpected in this sensual paradise, as people try all sorts of things, kinky or straight, to enhance their pleasure and that of their partners. The Strange Attractions start from the first page, as B.G. gives Eric his assignment to choose his own favorite candidate, but the plot unfolds relatively slowly, with appropriate intrigues and conflicts, and a satisfying ending that still leaves the possibility of future developments with B.G. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

--Joni Richards Bodart

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