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Lashes and Lace

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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"I obey. I must. It is in the contract. Disobedience is not, in the coming days, to be tolerated of me."

Set in the 1800's we are introduced to our main character through a letter she is writing to her mother a letter in which she begins to question her decision, one we are not fully aware of nor do we understand. Quickly we are introduced to our cast of characters, most of which seem to fit into stereotypical roles. The defiant and willful daughter, the overprotective father, the dark broody and mysterious (with a dark backstory shrouded in mystery) love interest. Lady Sophia's family we soon learn are experiencing the strain of her father's poor business decision. Lord Sclusbury's family, perhaps the richest in the area, is surrounded by legend of a tradition called The Contract of Seven Days' Service. Lady Sophia and Lord Sclusbury meet due to a business contract between her father and Lord Sclusbury. "And I wonder how even the smallest, most seemingly insignificant happenstance might alter the course of a person's life."

After an initial encounter between Lady Sophia and Lord Sclusbury the two do not see each other again for two years, a time in which her family's financial situation becomes increasingly worse. As "luck" would have it while on an outing with her friend's Lady Sophia sees a flyer for The Contract of Seven Days' Service. The contract requires that a lord or lady, whomever should apply, give up their station, title, possessions and most of all their dignity. They are to serve as the lowest among the house staff during this time. Sophia begins to consider the possibilities that the contract could hold for her family, but knows that she would never be asked to do it.

So what does our brave Lady Sophia do? She willingly enters into this contract as it becomes increasingly clear her father could find himself in debtors prison. After all seven days service in exchange for all debts forgiven seems like a bargain. Fate of course has worked in Lady Sophia's favor as Lord Sclusbury intends only to fulfill the contract to help save her family from ruin. Will the connection between the two survive the trials and degradation of the contract? Will love prevail? After all the contract was put in play simply for saving Lady Sophia's family reputation.

Quickly it becomes apparent that the sole means of the contract is to debase the woman who has taken on the contract. She is given a new name, finds herself naked and presented to strangers, friends, and acquaintances in this manner. Each is able to handle her in any manner they deem fitting. Sophia experiences many whippings and beatings for the entertainment of others and the satisfaction of her debt. Yet she retains a fierce spirit and stays true to herself.

Lashes and Lace leaves some to be desired in the development of the characters as they appear so boxed into the stereotypical expectations that they do not act in any way to deviate from this role. You know exactly what path each character will take before they embark on it. The ending is easy to see. The path of each character is easily figured out within the first few chapters of the novel. The author chooses a narrative style that makes our main character the narrator who often narrates as though she were telling the story to someone else in addition to writing letters to her mother about the events. It is a strange method which takes some getting used to and towards the end seems to spiral out of control for a moment. The novel appears a little stiff at times and the reader is left with the feeling that something is missing.

Notes/Trigger Warnings:

Spanking, Degrading behavior, Demeaning behavior, Non-consensual touch, Public exhibition, Anal Sex, Flogging, Paddling, M/M scenes, F/F scenes.

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