New job, new boss, and he’s cold, strict, but terribly attractive. Does Molly Parker stay or does she go? Because beneath Cyrian’s chilly front, there may be a heat that’ll burn her up.
Giving in was vicious bliss.
The live-in position is an opportunity for Molly to earn and escape a problematic family. There’s just one drawback. Her employer is the most eccentric, aloof and closed off man she’s ever encountered. His rules are bizarre and his needs even more so, and caring for his ramshackle Dickensian home is far more than she ever bargained for. Only their increasingly intense conversations stop her heading for the door. Cyrian Harcroft is a man of many mysteries and secrets, and the more she learns the greedier she is for each and every one. Especially when she discovers his greatest fear: any kind of physical contact. Now all she has to do is dig a little deeper, to unearth the passion she knows he can feel…
Charlotte Stein writes the best awkward erotic sex – for reals. While Sweet Agony is not my favorite by her (I’d rate it a C+) it provides a fun premise. Molly grew up with a horrible family and with hardly a penny to her name, she needs this live-in housekeeper job badly, but her new employer is not your average person. Cyrian is like a gothic Benedict Cumberbatch. He is very…..odd. A recluse, wears smoking robes, his house is like living in the 19th century.
He uses tiny envelopes, and writes my name on them in narrow but elegant handwriting – as though there could be anyone else he might want to write to in his own house. And, in case that’s not spectacular enough, he seals the envelopes with wax. Honest to God, that is what he does. Each one has a little red circle of the stuff, with what I assume is his family crest pressed into the centre.
I have to crack the seals to get at the contents, the way Anne Boleyn probably did when Henry wrote to say he was chopping her head off. In truth, when I open the first one, I almost expect it to say something similar, like ‘Due to the weird moment we had in the hall I expect you to report to the parlour promptly for your beheading,’ and I’m not far wrong. ‘I insist you refrain from making eye contact with me,’ it says, and the second one isn’t much better. That comes after I’ve just finished sweeping the hallway with one of his many brooms – so many, in fact, that I suspect he may be a witch – and it has just three words printed on card that probably cost more than my car, in ink that looks like unicorn blood.
‘You swept wrong,’ it says.
At which point I get a little annoyed. Not as annoyed as Anne Boleyn probably was when she realised Henry was a serial killer, but not far off.
Cyrian tries his best to not hire Molly, but she won’t hear of it. His voice makes her have an extreme case of lady boner.
He uses the sorts of words I’ve waited all my life to hear spoken aloud – words I barely know how to pronounce because the only time I’ve ever encountered them has been in books. I had no idea that ‘reprobate’ curled that way, or that ‘disillusion’ sounded so small to begin with and then so big at the end. Though, granted, part of that might be down to the way he talks. His tongue practically makes love to each syllable.
I feel like his sentence should smoke a cigarette, directly after the full stop.
I think I might need to smoke a cigarette, directly after the full stop. Something is sure happening to me. I seem to be sweating just about everywhere and my breaths are coming hard and high, like he is a hill and I just ran up him.
And don’t think Cyrian doesn’t notice. For all of his surly talk, he is attracted to her as well even though he admits he “hates sex and touching and anythig affectionate.” (which of course makes the sex hotter) So they start this awkward sexual experience as only Stein can write, and it was pretty hot. I didn’t connect as well to this hero as I have in her other books. I adored Molly, but Cyrian didn’t quite do it for me. But like I said, it’s a fun, erotic story. Here is a peek when he plays with a paintbrush….
I arch my back so he can really see, my stiff nipples sticking up in a deliriously rude fashion. And then I curl inwards, in an attempt to hide my broad hips, my soft belly – all those things that say how weak I am and how imperfect. I am not glacial, the way he is. Not firm and honed to a fine edge by years of abstinence. I’ve been forged in something far less fine; I’m messy and sloppy and overrunning my own boundaries. I have to tangle and twine my fingers around the brass headboard to stop myself grabbing.
But none of that seems to matter in the slightest to him.
On the contrary – he takes in all those details with more avid interest than I thought he was capable of. In particular he seems to find my hands completely fascinating, like an alien attempting to understand what makes someone so greedy and short on resistance. Though somehow I suspect he’s about to get a crash course. Whatever restraint he had is starting to dissolve, I can tell. I can see it in his expression, so much softer and slacker than usual. I can hear it in his voice, when he tells me to be still for him. Hell, even the words themselves suggest as much.
For him, I think, as though he has needs that he wants fulfilled.
Be still, I think, as though any more movement will send him over the edge.
Then finally there are the things he chooses to do. Oh, the things, the lovely, lovely things. They all but sing in my blood. Each one is so carefully designed to make me worse that I can’t fail to see what he’s really doing. He’s crossing the line into something flagrantly sexual. He’s not pretending this is just practical or a punishment any more, and that just kills me. I can hardly watch the way he holds the brush, as he eases the point around my tight little nipple. Eyes so intent on my every move that I doubt my toes could twitch without him knowing it. Almost holding his breath as he does it, as though it takes every ounce of his focus and concentration. No prevarication in any of it, no bones about it.
He rubs me there, with the full intention of arousing me.
Even the way he leans over me is lewd – with most of his body, like he wants to loom, like he wants to smother me in his shadow and his scent. And he’s successful. I can hardly see or smell anything but him, it’s all too intense to stand but so much sweeter for it. I could sink into him up to my eyebrows as if he were some deadly sandpit, and still love every second of it. I could breathe him in until there was nothing else left in my body, and be just fine in my dying moments.
But when I see him bring the brush to his lips…
That’s when I lose most of my calm.
I just don’t expect it. I thought he would go back to the oil he has on the nightstand, to make the tip of the brush wet. But he doesn’t. He brings it up as though to kiss it, so casual about it I can hardly believe it. And then he licks it, and my disbelief doubles and triples and eighty millions. I see the tip of his tongue, and still struggle to accept what I’m seeing – partly because I thought his tongue was a myth designed to destroy womankind.