Matt’s Smut Vault: Willful Depravity

When most people think of the Smut Vault, they usually picture a seedy place. Blacked-out windows, a musky odor of weirdly humid parchments that leave a distinct smell of shame that hangs heavy in the air. If that’s what you think my Vault is like, dearest detractors, you couldn’t be any more wrong. My Smut Vault is a place of peace, a place free of judgement, and (most importantly) a place of pure class. For this latest go ’round, I’m going to give it my best shot to try to prove that last point to you. For this installment of the Vault, we’re going to take a trip back in time. A distant time, when corsets and bonnets were in fashion, right before the advent of the industrial revolution would end up changing the world forever.

Willful Depravity by Ingrid Hahn is a romance/erotica hybrid novel set against the backdrop of early 19th century London. Miss Patience Emory, a 25 year old woman of good manners and middle class breeding attends a London ball and is having a genuinely shit time of it. Patience is a woman of size, and as such, she faces a lot of harsh ridicule from her peers….and some well-intentioned scorn from her loved ones. After giving the clap-back of all clap-backs to some of these mouthy bitches at the party, her sharp wit and firm demeanor end up captivating a notable onlooker. Giles Warrington Hale, the Marquess of Ashcroft approaches Miss Patience and bluntly requests two favors from her. For one, the handsome Giles wants to capture the beauty of Miss Patience by painting her portrait. And for the second favor? Giles wants to fuck her.

At first glance, I suspected this story would follow a more traditional romance arc. You probably know the drill I’m referring to: a handsome man of class and dignity falls for the curvy beauty and gladly casts aside societal norms and hangups all in the name of true love! Willful Depravity instead gets hot and steamy almost from the word “go”. The Marquee, after all, is a man who always gets what he wants. The sexual intensity between Miss Patience and Giles builds nicely and tracks along at a pace that is pleasantly lacking in subtlety. Giles wants one thing more than anything in the world, he wants Miss Patience. The desires Patience and Giles have for each other are expressed wantonly and is a good mix of modern erotica wrapped up inside an old world setting. The occasions of contemporary vernacular mixed with the general tone of the time creates a delightfully sexy mixture. Miss Patience refers to her partner as “my lord” in the bedroom, and Giles is continually captivated by the exploration of Patience’s “quim.”

A far less welcome lack of subtlety, however, is in regards to the characters themselves. Patience is a lusty woman coming of age. She is a woman freeing herself of her repressions despite the norms of the time period. Unfortunately, this appears to be her dominant character trait for large portions of the novel. Miss Patience has a sharp wit and a refreshing amount of back-bone, and it is unfortunate that these flashes come only in short bursts or moments. Her mind is just as attractive as her curvy body, and that needs to be a bit more apparent at times. Most of her development comes through her melting for Giles, a man crafted of pure animal magnetism.

-sigh-

Giles, also known as the Marquess of Ashcroft is a difficult character for me to explain. The best way I can classify him is someone who’s “the MOST.” Giles is the MOST in any and every conceivable way. I know, I know…this is a fantasy. Damn me for thinking too much into this but frankly, Giles can just be TOO over the top. You’ll get no qualms from me about his perfect good looks or stallion-like sexual organs. Miss Patience (and the readers) deserve every bit of Giles’ man-candy appearance. Beyond that, Giles can be inconsistent when it comes to his passions. Giles is a dirty boy in every sense of the word. If you didn’t know him personally, you’d only be able to remember him for his extreme levels of sexual deviancy. That being said, Giles takes a particularly astounding approach to consent. Since the story takes place in 1814, it’s natural that consent is not going to be something of great concern to most of the masses, so at face value I appreciate his care. However, Giles gives Miss Patience a minutes long oration about her ability to consent, to change consent, to remove consent and so on. Done to this level, it’s less the actions of a person caring to make a partner feel comfortable, but more of someone talking down to Miss Patience. Giles’ appetites, desires, and politics seemingly come from the future, and like a pretentious time traveler the Marquees is desperately explaining the right way to do things to the slags of days passed. The tone of Giles’ remarks comes across as condescending to a character who is so sharp and modern in every other way. This is indeed a fantasy after all, and I would hope that two people in this form of relationship could derive those levels of mutual feeling and respect a little more organically.

Once the terms of engagement are made known, the story settles nicely into its themes. Miss Patience is a natural artistic muse, and it’s more than anything Giles could have imagined. The pacing is nice and even comfy at times, although it makes EXTRA-double sure that you understand how hot these two are for each other before introducing any piece of plot progression. The antagonists to the couple’s happiness flow through the story events with a good level of suspense and drama to keep pages turning. My favorite feature, however, is how Miss Patience shines as a character. The young lady is truly worth rooting for throughout the novel’s duration: witty, sexy, smart, and an altogether dynamite lover.

Rating: Willful Depravity by Ingrid Hahn is a “hot to the touch” erotica in an enjoyable classic setting. A fairly intriguing blend of contemporary themes and 19th century society make for a unique sexual experience. Sit back with a glass of fine sherry, put on your finest embroidered shoulder length gloves and fantasize as the brilliant artist from a time long forgotten dips his brush and teaches us a few new naughty words.

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Entangled Publishing, LLC generously supplied an advanced copy of the novel for review, all opinions and thoughts are solely mine.

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