Win This Book! Ciar’s Passion Reviews: The Virgin Courtesan

This week in reviews: The Virgin Courtesan by Sela Carsen available now at Forbidden Publications. To win this book, simply add your comment to this blog, telling me if you like historicals, and what your favorite period is! I’ll pick a winner on Friday.

The official blurb: Venice, 1528
Nerina Morinelo tried being a courtesan like her mother but failed at the first hurdle. Now she’s gained an implacable enemy and she has no one to turn to except Domenico Venieri, scion of a wealthy and noble merchant family. Bent on a vendetta, Domenico needs a woman to lure out the enemy that he and Nerina share, but he doesn’t expect to lose his heart to a virgin courtesan.

This novella packs a lot into a small package–adventure, good characters, a cool setting (how can you not like a book that mentions the Medicis?), steamy sex, and romance with a somewhat sweet feel. It’s a quick read that is pure escapism–Ms. Carsen wisks you back in time and you immediately get a good sense of time and place. The opening description of the brothel and the initial set-up is particularly convincing, and I was caught up in caring about Nerina immediately.

I don’t have much negative to say. It’s hard to move characters who don’t know one another to eternal love in the space of a day, and Sela almost pulls it off–I might have liked to see things a hair more open-ended, but that’s just me. I think you’ll love Nerina and her sexy little story, as well as the chance to set your cares aside for a few hours.

Ms. Carsen’s writing is smooth, convincing, and very intelligent. I am dying to read more from her!

8 of 10 daggers, holding one aside for wanting a longer, more developed book (sorry, can’t help it–that setting is just so intriguing!) and one for good measure. I loved this story and can highly recommend it!

Do you want me to review your book? All my reviews are recommendations, so if I don’t like it, I won’t post it. Contact me through my website.


18 thoughts on “Win This Book! Ciar’s Passion Reviews: The Virgin Courtesan

  1. lynangel says:

    Sounds like a yummy book to me! I guess I’d have to pick the Renaisance period of time. No particular reason, it just sounds like a romantic era to me.

  2. Tamara says:

    Sounds like an interesting concept. I generally don’t get interested in a book because of the period . I fall for the characters instead. But I do like periods where the men carry a sword.

  3. Sela Carsen says:

    Thank you, Ciar! I really needed this pick-me-up today, too!

    Tamara, Domenico’s not the only one who gets to play with sharp, pointy objects in this! (Ok, that sounded dirtier than I meant it to!)

    Lynangel, I’d been dying to write something set in the Italian Renaissance, so I’m very glad I got this opportunity. Hope you enjoy it!

  4. Yvonne says:

    Although I am much broader in my reading tastes as a 52-year old woman, when I was 18-30 years old all I would read was historical romances. Does anyone remember Barbara Cartland? Lots of pink?
    I preferred almost any time prior to Napoleon. I also preferred Scottish or Irish settings to English or French settings. I did not like the authors to use words or names that I found difficult to pronounce or that were too similar to each other. It distracted me from the story. I think that is one reason I did not like the Germanic or French settings.
    Only if the book was very early (pre-colonial or fantasy) did I like American historical books.
    I liked the manners, the courtly behaviors of the “high” characters. I loved the descriptions of the outfits worn by the characters. The authors did a lot of research because I did too to see if they were correct. They usually were. Clothing, behaviors, manners, reading materials, mourning rituals, all were grist for many books I read.
    Back then (late 70’s and 1980’s), the good characters were very, very good and the bad characters were very, very bad. That is both a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is there is no confusion about who is the hero; and that the hero and heroine always acted in heroic fashion. The bad thing is that (and now that I think on it, is it that bad?) there was no realism in our romances.
    Today, I read a bit of everything…except non-fiction. Escapism is the one thing I still am after. The world is still “too much with me”.
    I wish to thank you for your hard work and dedication in your writing. I’m uncertain, but you and some of your peers may have inspired me.

    Yvonne (sometimes Belle)

  5. Teoh says:

    Love the cover and blurb and can’t wait to read the book! Wonder how much would Nerina like playing with sharp, pointy objects!!


  6. Cynthya says:

    I love historicals. I don’t really have a favorite period because I like a lot of variety. Most of the historicals I read are set in the 1700’s and 1800’s but that’s just because more books are set in that time period than earlier years.

  7. kaisquared says:

    I love historicals! I guess I enjoy the Regency setting the most, but am more interested in interplay between characters and humor than particular time frame. How far back do you think a book has to be set to qualify as a historical? 1850? 1950?


  8. Crystal L. G. says:

    I love all historicals. Not really a favorite period. I like characters that I feel I personally know when I am reading the book. Sounds like a great read. I enjoyed it.

  9. Sela Carsen says:

    I read dozens of Barbara Cartlands, Yvonne! Yes, lots of pink. I remember thinking her heroines must have all been asthmatic — they could never finish a sentence! *gg* But the high flung historicals were lots of fun.

    Teoh — you naughty person! Nerina has her own sharp, pointy object to play with. (that still sounds dirty. 😉 )

    Cynthya, folks loved Medievals when they were popular, then a few people wrote big Regencies and the market shifted. I wonder what the next trend will be in historicals.

    Kai, for a long time the cut off was 1900, but now there are places that are taking early 20th century settings and calling them historical. Morag McKendrick writes in the 1920s. LK Campbell writes WW2. I even saw a Samhain book a few months ago that was set in the 1960s.

    Crystal, I know what you mean. I read for the stories, but I love interesting settings. Unusual ones. A friend of mine, Michelle Styles, writes for M&B/Harlequin Historicals and she has some very unusual settings — ancient Rome and Roman Britain. I always look forward to her stories.

  10. Cherie says:

    I love historicls, especially regencies,medievals, Roman and Scottish. Sounds like a wonderful story. Great cover!

    Cherie J

  11. Jennifer McK says:

    I can smugly say that I already own this fantastic book, but I wanted to chime in.
    I love historical settings in Saxon England or William the Conquerer or Elizabethan.
    Some regencies are awesome too. I do love my historical romances.

  12. Sela Carsen says:

    Thanks, Cherie. I think the cover is wonderful. I was very lucky to work with a great person for it.

    Hi Jen!! I’m so glad you like the story!

  13. anicz says:

    I’m not really into historical novels. Don’t know why. People tell me all the time I am missing out. But with a cover like this, hmm..that would be too hard to resist. If I’d pick a period, I think I’d go for the renaissance period. I think there was a lot of romance going on during that time.


  14. Rachelle says:

    This looks like a real keeper! Count me in the contest. And oh, my fave historical period is during the 1910s up to 1940s.


  15. Sela Carsen says:

    Anicz, this is very much a light historical. I meant for it to be very accessible and fun to read, so I think you’d enjoy it.

    I’d love to read more 1920s romance, Rachelle. It seems like such an exciting time.

  16. Ciar Cullen says:

    WINNER! Picked at random, is Rachelle! I hope we change her mind about her favorite historical period with this great book. Congrats Rachelle! Your book is in the (e)mail.
    Ciar Cullen

  17. Rachelle says:

    Thanks a lot Ciar and Sela! I’m so excited to read it!

    – Rachelle

  18. Sela Carsen says:

    Congratulations, Rachelle!

    And thank you again, Ciar, for reviewing it here on your blog! I had fun talking to everyone and hearing about their favorite time periods.

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