Thursday, August 28, 2014

Blog Tour Excerpt, Review & Giveaway: Claudine by Barbara Palmer

Don't miss what Publishers Weekly calls a "splendid exploration of sensual performance" in this enticing debut erotic thriller... 

Maria Lantos is a post grad Yale student researching illicit 18th-century literature.  She's become exceptionally well-versed in the narratives of classic erotic fantasy.  She's also Claudine, an in-demand escort specializing in sexual role play for an elite clientele.

Anonymous.  Satisfying.  And discreet.

Until the tenuous separation between her worlds starts to crack.

It begins with the murder of a stranger.  Where it leads is to two men who will test Maria's limits of control and awaken her own sexual desires.  As her private nights bleed into day, Maria will discover the dangerous places that extend beyond the imagination, and secrets no longer consigned to the dark.

***WARNING: The following excerpt includes erotic adult content***

Show World Live! bore little resemblance to the infamous Times Square district Show World club; the original naughty venue was long gone except for a tattered storefront on Eighth Avenue.  In contrast, the new Show World Live! was aimed at upscale customers and boasted glitzy lounges with hourly strip shows.  Booth babies danced naked amid blue and pink bubbles in Plexiglas boxes.  A tranny bar featured top-notch talent from the Bay area, and the porn cinema was made up to look like a grand old theater with plush upholstered seats and velvet curtains tied on either side of the screen.  Claudine was booked to perform two vignettes at the coveted Saturday night show for ticket holders in the club's famous Round Rom, and after, a private performance for a select client.  She'd decided on a straight old-time burlesque show for her first act, and Lillian worked wonders transforming her into a likeness of the famous burlesque queen Lili St. Cyr........

The lights dimmed.  The performing area, a bare circle of blond hardwood, was illuminated by a spotlight that left the booths in shadow.  A pink divan at center stage sat beside a table holding a fan of luxurious black ostrich feathers and an oversized perfume bottle, the old-fashioned kind with a rubber squeeze top.  The master of ceremonies, a short sprite of a man dressed in tails and a white shirt, strode to center stage carrying a gold-topped cane.

"Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you, from the white lights of Manhattan, for one night only, the exquisite, the infamous, Claudine."

For an instant, her stomach pitched in fear.  Would her stalker be out there, watching from one of the booths?  Would he be bold enough to hurt her in front of everyone, thinking to catch her off guard with a public attack?  Andrei was stationed to one side of the entrance with a full view of the booths.  As long as he was here she was safe.  She calmed herself with that thought and the thrill that always came before a performance began to beat through her veins.

The white-blue beam of the spot swept to the performer's entrance.  She heard the first notes of the music and stepped into the circle of dazzling light.  Her platinum hair, styled in an updo, was cinched with a wide ribbon of black chiffon to match the flowing semitransparent fabric of her floor-length dress.  It glowed under the lights.  She wore arm-length kid leather gloves that fit like a second skin and flashy high heels.

Parading to the music, she shimmied, pivoted, struck various cheesecake poses.  She gave her audience a sinful smile, winked, and thrust out her boobs in full burlesque mode, running her hands tantalizingly over her cleavage.  Turning her back to the viewers, she wiggled her ass and unhooked the skirt of her gown, tossing it aside.

The pleasure and playfulness of the dance gave her extra zing and for a moment she felt as though she could vanquish her unseen enemy by the sheer force of her sensuality.  only the long tail of chiffon and a tiny thong covered the crease of her bottom.  She stepped saucily back into the spotlight, unhitched the tail and bent over so that her buttocks were on full display........... She kicked off her high heels, unfastened her stockings from her garters and rolled them down, slowly exposing toned thighs and shapely calves.  She picked up the fan from the pink divan and, holding it in front of her with one hand, undid the eyelets of the bustier at her back with the other.  She tossed the bustier to the floor, and squeezing her naked breasts together, dipped the fan down, revealing generous nipples glittering with rhinestone pasties. 

The audience went crazy....... Then, to the delight o the customers, she fanned herself as if she were too overheated to continue.  She pranced around a little longer, making sure that each booth occupant got a good look at her full tits and her round tush in the tiny black thong.  She returned once more to center stage, where she reclined languorously on the divan, giving herself a spray with the perfume.  Every move had a comic edge but she knew the men in the audience weren't laughing.  She felt their breath halt, their eyes on her - and savored every moment of it.

The author is a bestselling, international award-winning Canadian novelist whose work has been published in twenty countries.  She's writing under the pen name Barbara Palmer, inspired by the famous 17th century English courtesan and royal mistress.

Claudine is one of those books that leaves you with an almost indescribable feeling.  It's an experience unlike anything else I've ever read, and yet, I've had trouble putting it in to words. So for this review, I'll break it down in to pros and cons.

What I Liked:
The plot.  The idea.  The storyline was fabulous.  The suspense is incredible.  It leaves you on the edge of your seat and has you looking over your shoulder.  It's deliciously terrifying and erotically satisfying.  The literature references, while not many, are great when they're present.  I also very much enjoyed the writing style of the author.

What I Disliked:
Maria/Claudine.  And before lovers of the book tar and feather me, hear me out.
I understand that she's a strong character that's overcome a TERRIBLE past, and that she's somewhat empowering.  But that being said... it was incredibly difficult for me to connect to her.  I'm not sure if it was her up and down personality - exuding confidence and then acting as though she has none - or the presence of the "double life."  Whatever it was, it just didn't work for me.

Given the pros and cons, I'd have to say honestly that this book is definitely worth reading.  It is literally unlike anything I've ever read, and that holds weight for me.  It's the kind of book that sticks with you long after you've finished. 

Rating: 3.5 stars 

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