This is why I love Netgalley - it gives me the opportunity to try books I probably wouldn't be able to talk myself into buying, even if they were on sale... and be pleasantly surprised! Don't get me wrong, I'd been hearing amazing things about Tiffany Reisz from all my friends about the Original Sinners series (of which this book serves as a sort of standalone prequel), but I'd been burned so many times before when it came to "good" erotica, and the last BDSM fic I read with literary aspirations was THE CLAIMING OF SLEEPING BEAUTY, and rather than going into that whole kettle of fish, I encourage you to read my review.
THE CHATEAU, which is inspired by THE STORY OF O, is kind of an erotic novel of suspense. The twenty-four-year-old main character, Kingsley, is a half-American, half-French man serving as a secret agent in the French military. One day, he's given an "unofficial" assignment to infiltrate a sex cult in order to fish out the nephew of his commanding officer, who's gone missing. The last person he contacted was a mysterious woman, known only as Madame.
As you can expect, Kingsley ends in a bit over his head. He's one of those womanizers who's actually charming instead of misogynistic, so you can see why the ladies fall for him again and again even though he's about as monogamous as a rabbit in heat. He's also bisexual, and despite most of his partners being women, the lover who haunts him in his dreams is a man that he met when they were both young; the man who enjoyed breaking him about as much as he loved to be broken. Oh, and by the way, did I mention that I am a certified Emotional Literary Masochist™? I love-love-love it when my characters suffer, and the only thing better than a romance is a romance with suffering.
I really wasn't expecting to like THE CHATEAU - I have heard of THE STORY OF O, and I am highly wary of it - but this was an excellent, almost feminist retelling of that story in which women rule and men serve. What a change of pace, right? It was an especially nice break considering the news lately, and how most of the major political headlines could just as easily read, "Suck it women! The president and his cabinet are trying to take away your rights! You are chattel!" You don't often find such female-centric erotica written from the perspective of the female-gaze. The Fem Dom in this book was also really well done and I liked how bad-ass and funny she was, as well as the occasional small gestures of mercy and kindness that made her seem human and not, say, an emotional Dementor cast in the mold of Christian "Mommy Issues" Grey.
Now that I've read this book, I'm super curious about the rest of the series. It was the perfect blend of dark and sexy, and while there's some pretty intense scenes in here that aren't for everyone, I thought that they were all artfully done.
Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!
4 out of 5 stars