Audiobook Review: Potent Pleasures by Eloisa James

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2 Stars

Potent Pleasures
by Eloisa James
The Pleasures Trilogy
Audiobook – narrated by Susan Duerden

Eloisa what is you doing to me? This is not your best work.

That said, this is Eloisa James’s first work and certainly better than I can do, but still. I’m glad I started with her later works, because I know she is better than this and I will continue to read her newer work. Potent Pleasures was not a winner for me.

Alex is THE WORST. He is an unredeemable ass. I will go over why, but it’s very spoilery, because the entire plot is Alex being an ass.


1. At a masked ball, Charlotte accidentally has some alcohol. Then Alex takes her virginity in the garden. He assumes she’s a prostitute, then realizes she’s a virgin and assumes she’s a prostitute in training. He’s baffled. Charlotte’s hair is powdered so he decides, because she’s so pale, she has to be a red-head, which is how…

2. …Years later when they meet again he doesn’t recognize her at all. He was fascinated by her, looked for her all over, but can’t see passed the fact that her hair is black, not red, so it can’t be her. She asked OVER AND OVER if he really doesn’t remember the first time they met. He’s like “oh no, silly girl I would remember you, you must have met my twin, Patrick, you and I have never met.” She’s like, “no, it was definitely you.” “NO YOU’RE DUMB.”

3. Alex blames everything bad in his life on his ex-wife who was unfaithful. He married her because her face reminded him of the “garden girl” aka Charlotte, who was a virgin and therefore pure and chaste even though he thinks she was a prostitute in training. But because her face reminds him of the garden girl, he decides she is pure and chaste, too. She’s like, “sure of course I am”. Then they get married and jk, she’s not a virgin and also she’s going to sleep with the footman right in front of him. K. They agree on a divorce or an annulment, which they get by telling the church that he’s impotent. He’s like, fine whatever, as long as I’m rid of you. But the day they agree on this, he gets her pregnant. He doesn’t find this out until she’s dying and he’s presented with his daughter. His daughter, Pippa, is scared of women because her mom died of scarlet fever or something. She yells a lot except when she’s with Alex, but Charlotte, of course, wins her over. Anyway, because of his ex-wife’s behavior, he is dead-set on his next wife being a virgin on their wedding night. He’s not, of course, he’s had thousands of women (his words). The manwhore/virgin trope doesn’t usually bother me so much, especially in historical, but he was such an ass about everything. ANYWAY.

4. Alex and Charlotte get married. They sleep together and it’s just the most glorious sexual experience anyone has ever had, of course. After their wedding is consummated, Charlotte brings up the time before when they slept together years before. Alex immediately doesn’t believe her, calls her a whore, a trollop, a tart, etc. Says no true lady would ever respond with the passion she does, etc. Kudos to Eloisa James for his explosion here, because it was hard to read. I HATED him after it. It was hurtful to me and brought out real emotion. Unfortunately, that is the kind of emotion I’m okay with feeling toward a villain, not our hero. He leaves Charlotte and Pippa, who is miserable when not with Alex, in a fit of rage.

5. Then he decides, oh she just thought she slept with me but really she slept with my twin. And pats himself on the back for deciding to forgive her. Oh, I’m such a good guy because I’ll forgive my whore wife because she thought she slept with me, but I won’t listen to her explanations at all.

6. They reunite. He is somehow surprised that his wife isn’t as responsive in bed after he called her a whore for enjoying herself. It’s so shocking that when women are called whores and sluts for enjoying sex, they then stop enjoying sex. Again, kudos Eloisa, this guy would make an excellent villainous ex-boyfriend. At this point, I’m hoping he dies or that Charlotte decides it really was Patrick she slept with and leaves him for his brother.

7. Alex has to go on some rescue mission that is supposed to take two months, but it ends up taking 6 or so. Before he leaves, Charlotte has her period so they decide she can’t be pregnant. Turns out it’s not a real period, just some bleeding and oh she really is pregnant. But Alex is gone and he doesn’t know. While Alex is gone, Patrick – the twin Alex thinks Charlotte slept with – visits and reporters find out and now everyone is calling Charlotte a whore and saying she’s having an affair with Patrick, oh and she’s pregnant and it can’t be Alex’s because he’s impotent. When Alex returns from his mission and finds this out from someone at his club, he believes it. Decides that if she isn’t falling over pregnant when he sees her that she’s a whore and is carrying his brother’s child. Of course, Charlotte is rather far along in her pregnancy but isn’t showing a lot and also empire waist dresses are in so she’s concealing it pretty well. Does Alex talk to her and listen to what she says? No, of course not. Charlotte can go off to Scotland but Alex is going to take the baby and Pippa because he can’t have these children raised by a whore.

8. Alex is convinced to talk to his brother who confirms he never slept with Charlotte, only met her twice, and she was already pregnant when he met her. This clears things up because women can be lying whores, but brothers are trustworthy.

9. Childbirth almost kills Charlotte, in part because seeing Alex stresses her TF out because he’s an ass and she thinks he’s just their to kidnap Pippa and the baby. But he talks her back from the edge of death – let’s be for real, her love and strength pull her back but she gives him the credit for it.

At the end, Alex says “You’re too good for me. I don’t deserve you.” And I’m yelling at the audiobook – YOU’RE RIGHT. YOU’RE THE WORST. The only reason they get to Happily Ever After is because Charlotte wants it and forgives him for unforgivable bullshit because she loves him.

Susan Duerden is the narrator and she does a fabulous job. Her voice for Alex was very whispery which worked 99% of the time. It felt very silly when he was supposed to be yelling. Despite that, all her characterizations were distinct and lovely.

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