The foreword sets this work up with an intriguing history lesson and the prologue begins poetically. In fact, the narrative is poetic, with swiftly executed lines.
We are introduced to Maud, a reader, and needing distraction from thoughts of Lorenzo. Maud is reluctant to let herself be seduced and she could marry him, yet as she says ‘I would be pinned, like a museum butterfly’
I like the story of the club that runs parallel to that of Maud, as we are not quite sure how the two will cross paths. The club is ‘a modest refuge from the bustle of business’
The ladies of this harem ‘Delight in wielding power over men, whether in domination or sweet surrender’
In chapter three we are introduced to another thread of the story and character Lord McCaulay, who has a great interest in birds, of both the feathered and flesh kind.
With the elegance of the words I was more than surprised at reading ‘A dozen men are seated in a semi- circle of armchairs and despite their half-moon masks, he recognises them all’ It all sounds like something from a channel five documentary:
‘In one hand Mademoiselle Noire carries a riding crop’
What takes place are scenes of an erotic nature: dominance and a chamber maid being punished.
Set in the Victorian era, this is seedier stuff than I remember from my school history lessons.
The innocent passages of Maud contrast greatly with those of BDSM scenes, including a memorable scene with claret and an ostrich feather.
With this being set in the Victorian era the author does attempt to use the language of that time. Pubis and phallis are two such words with a high word count, as well as the climax of a female orgasm referred to as a crisis.
There are discrepancies with the words used to describe various body parts. Instead of one word for the one body part, two or three different words are used.
The role reversal of women being those in charge, dominating the men is immediate from page one. Indeed, this proves to be more exciting than the men controlling women scenario. Christian Grey who?
This book does shine a light on Victorian life and the poor expectations placed on women. I like that this puts women first and leaves men feeling utterly miserable.
I like the underlying romance beneath all of the kink and that Maud will not behave like the traditional Victorian lady and will not be shamed for enjoying sex, which is relevant in todays society.
I won’t write of the twist, as other reviewers have already done so, but I really didn’t see it coming.
The writing is sophisticated, the period of which it is set is perfect and engaging characters ensure The Gentlemen’s club deserves ☆☆☆☆
Emmanuelle de Maupassant
Author Emmanuelle de Maupassant is best known for her debut novella, The Gentlemen’s Club (named by Stylist Magazine as one of the sexiest reads of 2015).
Victorian London, 1898: by night, Lord McCaulay falls under the enchantment of Mademoiselle Noire, and her theatre of sexual exhibitionism. Humiliated by her before his peers, he becomes intent on revenge, but is drawn only further into her web, entering a dark spiral of erotic obsession. Meanwhile, by day, Lord McCaulay’s path intersects that of young aristocrat Maud, as she struggles to assert her identity against the domination of men.
Emmanuelle’s latest release is Highland Pursuits, set in the 1920s, featuring defiant debutante Lady Ophelia Finchingfield, as she navigates life, love and lust, in the wild highlands of Scotland. With a cast of eccentric characters, an ancient castle, a villainous French count, rugged Scotsman Hamish, and some very saucy scenes, it’s not to be missed!
Highland Pursuits, alongside 20 other stories, features in a gorgeous new anthology, Because Beards, raising funds for the Movember Foundation ALL proceeds go towards supporting prostate cancer research and treatment, and other critical men’s health initiatives. The anthology is priced at just 99p/99c to allow everyone to enjoy some bearded sexiness, and to do our part in donating to this great cause. You can purchase it here.
Emmanuelle is also the author of ‘Cautionary Tales’: a connected narrative of darkly erotic short stories inspired by Slavonic folklore and superstitions.
Discover more about Emmanuelle de Maupassant via her website