Thursday, June 29, 2023

Ashbourne House by Ann Owen


I can't remember the last time I felt so repulsed by a book and yet so utterly determined to continue. There is definitely a bad fanfiction vibe to this book which is maybe why I continue to read it; it makes me feel a little nostalgic for all of the bad "lemons" I used to read in my fics when I was but a wee teen. Sadly, it doesn't hold the same appeal as an adult because now I know what good erotica reads like. But dammit, I'm just so fascinated. If this weren't the penname of Nina Pennachi, I doubt I'd feel this utterly compelled.

The premise for this serial is pretty simple. Jane's father suffered a terrible injury in the accident that killed her stepmother and his business is falling into ruin. She goes to her stepbrother to beg for money and he demands that she be his sex slave in return. Which sounds compelling, right? And initially it is... but the stepbrother, Guy, has no redeeming qualities. He hates Jane because she used to love him but eventually got tired of him being an asshole ALL THE TIME and stopped talking to him. Wow, so he's mad at her for having self-respect? Quelle surprise.

There's no self-respect in the present timeline though. As I said before, this is basically a sex fantasy for people who get off on humiliation and coercion. It's definitely CNC but the hero drags the heroine there, every step of the way, and she cries so much it's hard to convince yourself that she's enjoying it in any sense of the word. In this book, there's a scene that verges on pet play where he has her get on all fours so he can inspect her as if she's cattle at the market (his words), and he makes her lick his hand like she's a dog. Maybe you're into that. I'm not. I did not like this scene.

The sex scenes and dialogue are also kind of cringe and anachronistic. The heroine, despite being a virgin, uses the word "pussy" in her mental narrative. The author seems overly enamored with the phrase "ball juice," a phrase which I would be very happy if I never saw again. Since I believe her native language is Italian, I did wonder if maybe this is a literal translation from some Italian phrase. I didn't see a translator listed so I'm wondering if she did it herself or had a friend do it for her, because the writing in this feels clunkier than it did in her book, LEMONADE. I also hate that the dad calls his stepson "big boy." It just gives me the ick.

Why the fuck am I still reading this? Your guess is as good as mine. (Blink twice if you need help.)

2.5 out of 5 stars

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