Sylvia Day's ASK FOR IT probably qualifies as erotica, and as far as that goes, that's a first for me. This book is heavy on the explicit language and erotica, so beware. Despite the explicit nature of this book, ASK FOR IT still imparts a heated passion and a loving romance. The plotting, however, is poor, the settings worse, both essentially serving as annoying background noise to the passionate scenes. I felt like I was reading an equivalent of a late-night B-grade showtime movie. The only reason I give this book 2 stars is because I thought the characterizations were more mature than I've been reading lately, and it was nice to see demons haunting our heroine for a change (though it wasn't handled well).
Our tall, dark and handsome Lord Marcus Ashford, Earl of Westfield, works for the Agency and is assigned to protect widowed Elizabeth, Lady Hawthorne, in a deadly case which places her life in peril; the details of the case aren't worth noting, only that her life is in danger. Marcus takes the case eagerly, intent on sating his lust of the stubborn woman who jilted him four year ago. Years ago, Elizabeth abruptly ends her betrothal to Marcus the night before their wedding after errantly drawing the wrong conclusions about Marcus' fidelity, or lack thereof. Marcus wasn't cheating on her though and Elizabeth doesn't give Marcus a chance to explain when she marries another man right away. Marcus leaves the country and they don't speak again until the case which has Marcus assigned to her.
While being assigned to protect Elizabeth, Marcus doggedly pursues a love affair with Elizabeth, just to be rid of his lust of her. Both confide and talk to each other about the events which led to the jilt those years ago, which was refreshing to read about. Elizabeth has major trust issues after witnessing the digressions of her father and brother first-hand, and resists Marcus, believing he will tire of her and return to debauchery. She desperately tries to escape Marcus' advances during the case and finally flees London at one point. Marcus gives chase, proposing marriage and asking her a week's time to consider his proposal, promising not to touch and seduce her unless she asks for it. Sure enough, by the week's end, Elizabeth asks for it, they marry, and more passionate scenes abound.
I liked Marcus's characterization in the beginning, but by the end I thought Day turned him into an over-the-top, pining, love-sick lapdog, and he lost a lot of the masculine flavor which made him interesting from the beginning. I understand the need to show love from the hero in an otherwise meaningless erotica and to "tame" the hero, but I didn't feel Marcus' intense desire and love was even remotely reciprocated by Elizabeth. I didn't think Elizabeth's unwarranted jilt four years ago was really settled between our leading pair. I didn't like how Elizabeth makes all the uncompromising demands on Marcus and Marcus happily assents to all of them by the end: she asks him to leave the dangerous Agency, he obliges; she asks him to verbalize the words "I love you" despite a prior chapter in which he spent 2 pages articulating - heartfelt and soulfully - just want Elizabeth means to him and everything he does anyway that shows it; and then Elizabeth demands to know if he could love her even though she could be barren, Marcus doesn't hesitate, he tells her he loves her so much nothing could change that. When Marcus suspects Elizabeth is cheating on him, Elizabeth cruelly allows Marcus to believe the worst, testing his obvious love over and over, again and again. Even though it was Elizabeth who jilted him years ago!
I thought the character of the pirate Christopher St. John was too smooth, too convenient when he saves both Marcus and Elizabeth at the end. Marcus is too love-sick to do anything on his own right. The plotting has our leading pair constantly reacting to events and neither make a concerted effort to dig deeper and discover who is behind the attempts on Elizabeth's life.
Heated, flaring passions cannot save this weak fare.