Monday, January 25, 2016

[Book Review] Guilty Pleasures

Guilty Pleasures
By Manuela Cardiga
December 5, 2013
Contemporary Romance, Erotica 

This book is wonderfully exquisite, both in the romance aspect and in the mouth-watering dishes featured within its delightful pages. It was not a very good idea to read this book from midnight until the wee hours of dawn because it made me crave for dishes I haven't even tasted but sounded soooo good based on the descriptions in the book alone. Yes, I might sound crazy, but trust me, if you read this book, you will experience such a thing, too.

Plot-wise, it is somewhat like a paid-gigolo trope, but better. I'd have to say that while Lance Packhard and Christian Grey had similarities in background and in how they became the person that they are, how their stories turned out and even their personalities are vastly different. I also love that the way Lance worked to gain Millie's affection, which is not a typical courtship. I really thought it was creative how Lance went on to such great lengths just to be close to Millie. The how-to entries in the book he was working on were really witty, too!

The characters are also unique and I would say very much developed and complex. You could not help but feel for the characters and think of them as real people. Lance is your typical handsome-and-he-knows-it, arrogant ladies' man. The twist is that he puts so much effort to maintain such persona, which is a huge relief for me, because I believe that an attractive man has to have some sort of regimen to maintain his physique and looks. Think models. (Newsflash: It is not easy to look model-gorgeous.) This puts a bit of realism to Lance as a character, which is something I really appreciate. As for Millie, I love how she's her own person. She's an unconventional female lead and pursues her passions rather than be boy crazy. She's really shy and oblivious to other people, but when she's in her element, she shines so brightly.

I also really like the parallelism of Millie and Lance's expression of passion. While Lance thinks of passion as sex and love-making, Millie pours hers into her business and cooking -- this is something that I've always believed. Different people have different passions, and it would not be wise to judge one based on another. It was very interesting to witness Lance slowly understand Millie's motivations, and despite of it all, falls for her harder.

Oh, and I love Serge so much! He's gay, he's black, and if that isn't enough, he's a dwarf. He also has a pretty foul mouth and unpredictable temperament. Above all of these, he's very witty. He's a colorfully complex character and I love how entertaining his quips are. I wouldn't have enjoyed this book so much if it weren't for him.

All in all, this book is a solid read. While it has a few common romance elements, it is highly entertaining (and mouth-watering) and can stand on its own.

Gorgeous, narcissistic, self-absorbed Lance Packhard is a sex therapist specializing in Awakenings, helping anorgasmic women find sexual fulfillment.
Lance’s spare time is dedicated to the cult of his body and writing a how-not-to book entitled Sexual Secrets of a Sexual Surrogate. His personal life consists of Sunday tea with his grandmother and a monthly night out with his best friend, George. Oh, and no sex, none whatsoever.
When a wealthy, ruthless mother offers him an enormous sum to seduce and impregnate her thirty-six-year-old daughter, Millicent Deafly, a debt-ridden Lance hesitantly agrees. 
However, Millicent is not into sex, and definitely not into Lance. She’s chosen the other end of the sensuality spectrum and is heavily into food. She is bright, bouncy and joyous, uninhibitedly plump, natural, and completely dedicated to her palate. The only way Lance will get her attention is if he dabs soy sauce on his pulse points. 
Determined to get close to her, Lance creates an alter ego—sweetly shy Wilfred Pecklise—and takes a job at Millicent’s dinner club, Guilty Pleasures. 
Guilty Pleasures caters to the flamboyant and the eccentric: supermodels pigging out, trash-metal rock stars with penis-piercings and their loving grannies, the widows of billionaires, and many more oddities. 
Lance finds himself immersed in a sensuous world of scents, tastes, and color, and befriended by Serge Moreno—a homosexual black dwarf who has had a colorful life as a prostitute in Istanbul, a fluffer in skin flicks in Vegas, and is now a celebrity chef in London. 
Ironically, Lance isn’t just failing to seduce Millie, but falling madly in love with her. 
Balancing the two lives of Lance and Wilfred becomes next to impossible when his geeky best friend, George, suddenly marries and decides to hold the reception at Guilty Pleasures. Will the truth be uncovered?

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