A copy of this book was purchased by me for my own personal enjoyment during a time when it was free on Amazon.
1800—Allan Pendale, lawyer and the youngest son of the Earl of Frensham, is bound by ship for the West Indies, to impart the news to his estranged father that his mother has died. But he also has another mission—to find out the truth of his origins.
Miss Clarissa Onslowe is also on board, traveling to take up the role of governess to the daughter of the wealthy planter Mr. Lemarchand. There is nothing to keep her in England. An indiscretion five years before led to her reputation being ruined; her abolitionist family has disowned her and no gentleman would marry her now. But now she seeks redemption with her family by revealing the truth about the miserable lives of the slaves who work on the sugar plantations.
Clarissa’s previous encounter with love has left her aroused and restless, and Allan is a man for whom lust is a daily pastime; thrown together belowdecks during the long sea voyage, they embark on a sensual odyssey where no desire is left untested. But if they thought their exploration and ecstasy could not be bettered, then there are more pleasures to be taken and boundaries to be broken at their island destination—where “March” Lemarchand, sugar king and master of seduction, awaits them both…
This is a substantially revised version of Forbidden Shores (2007) published under the name of Jane Lockwood.
Although I am a big fan of Janet Mullany’s work in contemporary erotic romance (Tell Me More, Hidden Paradise) this was my first experience with one of her many historical novels. A Certain Latitude was originally released under a different pen name, and it would have remained unread by me (even at the temporary price of FREE) if she hadn’t reissued it under the one I already knew and trusted. I couldn’t tell you if what she refers to as “substantial revisions” made this a better book than the original, but I can say that A Certain Latitude far exceeded any expectations I might have had going in, and is as good as any other historical erotic romances I’ve read. What made this book so enjoyable for me was what I’ve now come to expect in Janet Mullany’s work, namely a plot that turns a well-worn trope on its head and scenes of intimate passion which envelop not only the titular hero and heroine but also the supporting characters who enter their sphere with intentions both good and evil.
The notion of “civilized” people devolving into depravity while isolated in a more primitive place where the rules of polite society don’t apply is a trope less commonly found than it once was. It dates back to a time when the “old skool” romances were the norm, and often featured ugly racial stereotypes as a lazy shortcut in lieu of actual character development. But while it’s true that the veneer of civilization began to decompose for Allan and Clarissa even before they reached their destination, it’s clear that what remained was there all along, irrespective of what would take place on the island. It needed only the close quarters of the ship to emerge, and the all-too-knowing encouragement of one dissolute and dominant man to be forced into full flower as they move inexorably toward their shared destiny.
I must emphasize most strongly that A Certain Latitude is a true erotic romance in every possible way. The sexual encounters involving each of the featured characters are absolutely essential to the plot, as well as those which occurred well before any of them had arrived on the island. The scenes we experience as the story unfolds are explicit and unforgettable, with pairings that may shock those unused to such graphic detail. It’s rare to find such unflinching scenes in historicals that are written so well and in such loving detail, although they do exist in the works of Kate Pearce, Robin Schone, Sharon Page, and Maire Claremont. Thanks to A Certain Latitude, Janet Mullany is now a member of that elite list for me, and I’ll be seeking out all her other historicals for another chance to experience that special reading joy. 5 stars