It's not often you'll find fashion advice offered amidst the scintillating literary discussion led by BN.com columnists at "Unabashedly Bookish."
Sure, Albert Rolls might riff on the wardrobes designed for those scandalous actresses playing the first "breeches" roles in Restoration comedies. And Paul Goat Allen probably could write a kickin' post on whether the armor and accoutrement of Tolkien's Middle Earth characters is most influenced by Roman, Egyptian, Medieval or some other societies' styles.
But while they might appreciate it, they probably won't share with you the universal truth of vital import which I'm about to impart, one even bookish girls should know, if they don't already: Every woman looks hot in a sexy little red dress.
Now, maybe some guys would beg to differ, and I've heard some do just that. But, frankly, women are far more powerful than men in two irrefutable ways that put lie to the all-chicks-rock-in-red-rule opposition. First, we get to wear sexy red dresses. And second? We know what the men who love us want, even when they don't know it themselves.
The latter should come as no revelation to either sex, as that gem of wisdom's been passed down through the ages from woman to woman - and happily married guy to desperately-hoping-to-please-his-own-wife friend. In the fictional world of deliciously sensual romance, it's part of advice given in the naughty self-help book at the heart of Emma Wildes' thoroughly entertaining and joyfully sensual, "Lessons from a Scarlet Lady ."
The scarlet lady in question is a former courtesan whose banned-by-Parliament tome full of how-to-keep-your-husband-pleased-and-pleasing-you advice is being followed to the deliciously sinful letter by young, newlywed Brianna Northfield, Duchess of Rolthven.
Brianna's very much in love with her august and brilliant husband. But she's feeling the duke's been treating her with kid gloves, and she'd like to unleash some of the same passion he shows for his ducal responsibilities, yet channel it into sexual and emotional enthusiasm for her. Her Grace's goals: Use the Scarlet Lady's tips to keep His Grace from seeking a mistress like so many men of his station, and shake up his damned politesse so he sees her as a thinking, competent, sensual woman, not a biddable china doll.
Colton Northfield's bowled over by Brianna's new sensuality, and takes full advantage of it...in the carriage, the boudoir and just about anywhere and for any reason. But Brianna's his wife, not a courtesan, and Northfield can't help but wonder where she's gaining such outrageously erotic knowledge.
As Northfield's suspicions increase along with his and Brianna's sensual explorations, the couple becomes closer in many ways. Yet Northfield, being a boneheaded romance hero, can't leave sexy enough alone. His reactions and lessons learned - and Brianna's subsequent growth-turn this novel from lovely, sexy romp to damn fine love story worthy of an immediate re-read.
How do you feel about the "book within a book" device, or one that uses snippets of a fictional book at the opening of each chapter? What do you like about novels in which a hero and heroine are married prior to their sensual exploration?
Michelle Buonfiglio writes regularly about romance fiction at BN.com's Heart to Heart blog and RomanceBuytheBook.com. Click here for more of her UB romance fiction columns.