A house in Hampstead, present-day: Behind a facade of cultured respectability lies a world of decadent indulgence and dark eroticism. Cassandra's sheltered life is transformed when she is employed as governess to the Baron's children. He draws her into games where lust can feed on the erotic charge of submission—games where only he knows the rules, and where unusual pleasuA house in Hampstead, present-day: Behind a facade of cultured respectability lies a world of decadent indulgence and dark eroticism. Cassandra's sheltered life is transformed when she is employed as governess to the Baron's children. He draws her into games where lust can feed on the erotic charge of submission—games where only he knows the rules, and where unusual pleasures can flourish....
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Cassandra's Conflict Reviews
This book was recommended to me by Amazon because I'd bought To Seek a Master from them, which is by the same publisher. Now and then Amazon can draw your attention to a book you might not have ever noticed before otherwise, and it can work. I loved To Seek a Master, which is why I had high hopes for this one; I also knew to expect something pretty extreme from this publisher, and besides, the premise made me think it was the erotic, modern-day version of Jane Eyre: timid new governess Cassandra is hired to look after the two young children of a widower, Baron von Ritter, who has powerful charisma and some very extreme sexual tastes that often involve initiating shy young women into his games. Growing tired of his mistress's cruel sado-masochistic needs, the Baron turns Cassandra's initiation into a game that pits the unwitting woman against his mistress - only one will stay, but only he knows the rules.What could have been a mesmerising novel of gothic atmosphere and erotic seduction, was instead a flat story with highly unlikeable characters and an unconvincing seduction. The Baron's so-called charisma, upon which the entire premise rests, is never really in evidence - instead, he gave me the creeps, and how he treated his two little girls made me despise him from early on. Remove his power to drive women wild and make them fall in love with him, and the motivation is entirely gone. I was told these women love him, but I couldn't believe it. I saw no real evidence of it, or what it was about him that made them love him. I especially didn't like his sexual tastes and I wasn't impressed by his skill - he was all technique, detached and cold and boring. It didn't help that the writing also got too technical, and the descriptions repetitive.The seduction scenes lacked a necessary powerful ingredient to really make them work, instead of making the reader uncomfortable. By the time the baron decides to introduce Cassandra to the joys of enemas, I'd had enough. I'm sure there is a way to get a divine orgasm from an enema, but there's nothing sexy or erotic about it. It's all so clinical and messy and unpalatable. As is the focus on the belly and water-retention (not letting them pee and forcing them to drink more and more water as a kind of sexual torture until the final, orgasmic release) - I couldn't help thinking about how you can die if you don't pee, from the toxins that have been filtered from your blood having nowhere to go but back into your system. These characters think they're at the height of sexual discovery by defeating their boundaries and pushing themselves, but honestly, I couldn't help but feel they were missing the point.There is an audience for this book and others like it, as badly written as it is, but it's not for me. I prefer the quietly simmering sexual tension and subtle build-up of grumpy Mr Rochester to the Baron's "baby-faced" charm. Yuck.
I need to add called Books I Hated. I try to be all big and bad and groovy about BDSM. I have a child (an adult) who is a Dom. Don't ask me how challenging that is, based on my history. Mostly, I am open minded. I have no trouble with what consenting adults do. But I hate reading poorly written, mean spirited books on this subject. There is more to be said. I'll have to write a short rant later.
This is my most recent erotica read, and I tried to take my time with it and really read the thing! It's very engrossing and suspenseful, kind of stomach-churning in a (mostly) good way; but in addition to being devious and deviant in a delightful way, it's also sometimes randomly cruel, and the tone at times is a little odd. Alleyn's sensibility, at least in this one, is very much infused with something of the tradition of Viennese perversity, sophisticated but sometimes mocking and cruel. The plot concerns innocent Cassandra and her induction to depravity at the hands of a rather Teutonic-sounding group of rich fiends, led by the Baron Deiter. His "fiancee" Katya and his other pals are like the cast of a Fellini film, kind of nouveau riche Eurotrash that kinda distinguishes them from him. He can be vulgar too, but he seems to be looking for something a little more special than what they appreciate. Cassandra provides that. In other words: she remains a kind of blank canvas for him to draft erotic experience onto. The reader will agree that Cassandra's a bit hard to read; her education is VERY full by book's end, but it's hard to gauge her attitude to any of it. Though her body comes to know many lovers, she doesn't seem to reflect upon her experiences, which means this is not quite the joyously polymorphous romp it might sound like. And there are curious ommissions. Like, there's lots of lesbian contact, yet Cassandra never kisses a girl on the lips (there's one passing bit of mouth-to-mouth with two secondary female characters, but still--).And not a single whiff of gay male action. Nothing. All these debauched dudes, and not one of 'em swings both ways? Not even bicurious? Weird! And yes, a bit disappointing. Still, there's loads of imaginative, kinky action. It's rather like "Eyes Wide Shut" in terms of its very formal tone. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but it IS vividly conceived and skillfully paced. I'm usually impressed, if not always pleased. The kind of dreamy surreality of the book helps certain events go down better-- I rather laughed at that bit of business at the end, which I'm sure many people yucked over, but it's all just makebelieve! I thought it'd be a better read if the other characters weren't so bitchy. Picking on Clare's weight is really too much, esp. considering the scenario the poor girl is placed in (though willingly). Perhaps Alleyn is channelling the hauteur of all those high-art-wannabe French novels like Story of O. I hope her later books brought that down a notch. Still, I was impressed, and often turned on. I hope "Cassandra's Chateau" can be all that and more! . . .
Just absolutely horrible. The characters are all flat. They certainly get nowhere, growth-wise. The only actual change in Cassandra from beginning to end is that she's sorer and more jaded. The Baron - he's charming? He's magnetic? Yeah right. He came off the page as a cold, clinical, detached, cruel, roue puppeteer who makes everyone around him - including his two very young daughters - dance on strings for his entertainment.If this book had not included his daughters, I'd have -MAYBE- given it 2 stars. For what it was, it was meh. BUT. Dragging 4 and 2 year old little girls into this pit of crazy, to the point that they are observing undercurrents in the adults around them and reacting (they noticed their previous governess slept in their father's or Katya's rooms, they knew she was "punished" for being "bad" and that they could be too, and one of them even dropped a plate to stop Katya's 'seduction' of Cassandra IN FRONT OF THEM AT BREAKFAST [for which their father chastised Katya for ruining his game, not for doing such a thing in front of his children]) is totally wrong. Not to mention the absolutely ridiculous rules enforced on them by their so-called father (scheduled bathroom times, especially for a 2 year old!!!!!!!!!!! and not allowing them to cry, ever, because he didn't like it, etc)... if Cassandra had any kind of scruples, at all, she would have called child protective services in a heartbeat. I get the impression that the Baron would not hesitate to get his daughters involved in his stupid games and harnessed up as slaves the second they were old enough.I found I could not care about any of the disgusting adults in this book; casual cruelty was the name of the game from beginning to end and sweet loving Cassandra, who gave a damn about the girls at the beginning, was broken, jaded, and dispirited by the end. If that was the real message of the book, then, it was deeper than I guess I give it credit for. Somehow, I doubt it.
CASSANDRA'S CONFLICT is without a doubt the most erotically enticing story I have ever had the pleasure to read. I was transported to a phenomenal world of kinky bedroom play and a home filled with both good and evil. The characters were delightfully insane. I hated Katya—she was rude, cruel and manipulative—a perfect villainess. I could entirely empathize with Cassandra's feelings for Dieter. She comes from a broken marriage where she was made to believe that she was frigid. In Dieter's arms, she finds untold passion and pleasure. The depths to her sexuality that she discovers will leave you trembling. Dieter is very enigmatic—while he can be cruel and unforgiving at times, he also has this part of him that cries out to be held and loved. I can wholly understand why CASSANDRA'S CONFLICT was reprinted five times the first year it was in print. The storyline is gripping, the characters are compelling and the sex scenes were mind-blowingly surreal earning CASSANDRA'S CONFLICT top marks from this reader!Reviewed for Romance Junkies
Okay, this book is BDSM to an extreme, so be forewarned, but that's not why it got 2 stars from me. The actual sex and BDSM was done fairly well, even if it wasn't super steamy hot for me. My problem was in the characters. I was rooting for the girl I was supposed to and hating the girl I was supposed to, but I felt no character progression through the story. The baron was a total joke and there was NO insight into his desire for the scene, his thought process, nothing. Also, the main heroine was undergoing a complete life alteration, and we really saw nothing of her character's thought process. This was more a play by play of events (which is okay in a short story due to time restraints but not a 300+ page novel) instead of seeing/feeling things through the characters. And at the end, no one had grown, changed, or done anything emotionally, which left me feeling ambivalent about the characters and the story as a whole.
having read the 2nd book first (Cassandra's chateau) I knew how it was going to end, but this book is the journey that leads her to become that person. none of the sex scenes were particularly shocking, and there is a large variety of those, but this book was definitely the first time I've read of a snake being used as a sex toy. (which is right near the end of the book. the snake is fine afterwards, relatively unharmed, but if it were real-life, it's still kinda wrong) if you're looking for the male / female leads to get a good spanking, and lots of bdsm this is not the book for you, I'd recommend the sleeping beauty series for you. not going to say much more as i don't want to ruin it for the readers of black lace books.
Black Lace... Well, lots of strong reactions in the reviews, and I think, without the overload of stars, I agree with a lot of Violethue's comments. Having read loads of Black Lace I certainly wouldn't rank this as being towards the bottom, but the characters are very strong and weird, and I understand some of the negative reactions. I like the Fellini analogy, and quite enjoyed parts of it while distancing myself from some of the over-the-top scenes. A snake?? you've got to be joking...
Tracy you should read.