St. Martin's, Feb 2003, 6.50, 384 pp.
Over the years her widowed father made it clear that Lady Elizabeth Harcourt first responsibility was to him. However, in 1812 when she was twenty-seven years old her father marries seventeen year old Charlotte. The teen, befitting the role of wife, takes over the running or perhaps the destroying of the household as her childish ways drive off the servants that is when she does not fire them.
Bored, lonely, and feeling a bit betrayed, Elizabeth feels pretty good about the outrageous behavior of artist Gabriel Cristofore. He insists he needs to paint her portrait, as she is a beauty. While she ponders accepting his offer that blatantly hints at much more, he discusses with his womanizing father that Elizabeth is his next mark as he believes she is a chip off the old block. However, this time the amoral philandering Gabriel falls in love, but her father loathes his dad as her mother was a notch on his father's belt.
Because of the shared attitude towards women by the male protagonist and his sire (that will turn off some readers), ABSOLUTE PLEASURE is not your typical Regency tale. Though her father is over done as a disloyal buffoon, the story line will engage the reader as the other two males learn that ABSOLUTE PLEASURE only occurs with love.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner