Overall rating – 5 silken sheets
Caroly Evardt never expected to find herself patronizing a male prostitute. Then again, she never expected to be weeks from her thirtieth birthday and still a virgin.
When a friend mentions that a gorgeous male model in Paris sells his body as well as his image, Caroly’s intrigued. Finally, a chance to sample the gifts of a beautiful man—no strings, no stakes, no fear of rejection.
But she soon discovers that Didier Pedra amounts to more than a striking face and talented body. He’s a kind, charming, damaged man, and after a few evenings of pleasurable education, Caroly’s interest blossoms into something far deeper than mere lust. Her simple arrangement is suddenly feeling downright dangerous…
He was an Armani campaign, lounging on his old couch in this moody, elegant apartment, candles
Curio is the second book in this trope that I’ve read this year, you know, grown-up virgin approaches a prostitute for her first sexual experience. In my opinion, this is the defining book. I can’t imagine ever reading a better handling of this trope. Even now, several weeks after I finished Curio, I’m still thinking about Didier and the sheer, unparalleled beauty of the story.
Caroly is an American woman living in Paris and the story is told entirely through her point of view. Normally I prefer to see inside both the main characters’ heads, but this time it works. We see Didier as she does, experience Paris in spring with her, and feel everything that goes on in exquisite detail.
I counted the steps as I descended – sixty-eight. I tapped each mailbox on its glass window, smiled at every person I passed on my walk to the Metro station through the wet, good-smelling spring air.
Everything is beautiful in Paris, when you’re a young woman in lust.
I was a sucker for this book once I found out it was set in Paris. I mean, come on. Is there a more romantic city in the world? Add in a devastatingly gorgeous Parisian, and I rapidly became a hopeless and delighted fan of Cara McKenna.
So what is it about Curio that works so well?
The way Didier is written catches your heart, digs into it and refuses to let go. I love books with a lyrical, poetic quality, and this is no exception. Cara McKenna paints delicate pictures with her words, drawing you in a line at a time.
A beautiful young clerk might flirt with him as he browsed, but she’d never see what I did. She’d see only his shiny shell, snapped shut to hide a jumble of secondhand parts, ticking not quite as they should, but ticking nonetheless. A bit rusty. A bit erratic, like my heartbeat in the moments before I press his buzzer.
He’s not just a handsome man. I love broken heroes, and I love the strong women who put them back together again. The ‘reveal’, when you learn how broken Didier is, caused me to reach for the tissue box several times. Not only that, but I flicked back to earlier in the story to re-read a certain section, with my newly found heartbreaking secret now in the open. It became even more poignant.
“On your end,” he said, pointing at me, “you fear the rejection of a man you deem too attractive to ever want you. On my end, I might fear that what I have on the inside will only disappoint you, once my looks are gone. Put out on the pavement like a once-loved chair, after the cushions are stained and worn.”
The story isn’t rushed. Caroly doesn’t leap straight into unbridled, lusty sex on her first visit. It takes time to build up her confidence and break down her barriers, and Didier patiently takes her every step of the way.
They get to know each other, really know each other. They talk endlessly, and that’s when Caroly pushes past the boundary and Didier starts to think of her as more than a client.
Didier leaned close, resting his chin on my shoulder. Oh melt.
“Are you staying the night? You’re always welcome to sleep here.”
I loved the way he treated her. Unlike the previous virgin-meets-prostitute book, this was soft and gentle. The intimacy wasn’t forced, everything felt natural – felt right. I wanted Didier to be my first. I wanted to take up residence in his slightly shabby apartment and to share his bed.
I nodded and left him in bed, stealing a long look before I exited. This was exactly how Didier ought to be styled – stripped to the waist in the morning light, sage-green sheets wrapped around his legs. Click, click, click went my mental camera.
However, Caroly always has to remember that he is a prostitute, and that she cannot stay his client forever. This prompted another desperate grab for tissues.
I shifted in my seat, addressing his hands fidgeting in my lap. “I won’t be able to come by as often as I have. It has nothing to do with wanting to. Or from getting to know you better, or the sex, or any of that.”
His forehead wrinkled. “All right…”
I laughed sadly. “I just can’t afford to.” My throat was tight, heart hurting to admit aloud what we are, what’s brought us together. I’d let it become so much more in my mind. Even in my gut. But it had always been just checks slipped in his mailbox, hadn’t it?
Curio became one of the infrequent books where on finishing it, I immediately went to buy the next in the series. I was thrilled beyond measure to see that not only had Cara McKenna written several vignettes that follow on from Curio, but they alternated in POV. Seeing the world from inside Didier’s head made me both sigh in pleasure and clutch my heart.
Once you’ve read Curio, you might be alarmed at the price of the five vignettes (they range from $2.51 to $2.99, but take my word, they are SO worth it. I read them all back to back, as one long novel and it was a rich and intensive experience. I had to ration myself from reading ahead too fast, slow down my pace to enjoy it all the more.
One thing’s for sure. The Curio series is on my read-again list.
Overall rating – 5 silken sheets
Sexy rating – 5 lips
Plot – great
Characters – Perfection
Warnings – you will fall in love with Didier Pedra and instantly compare all other similar books to this one; you will also feel compelled to buy the series of Curio Vignettes that follow
DETAILS: Genre: Contemporary erotic romance Published: September 2011
Publisher: Elloras Cave
Author website: Cara McKenna