Whispers of the Flesh by Louisa Burton

Castle of the Grotto, Book 3



ISBN: 978-0-553-38530-4

Reviewed by Chris



Château de la Grotte Cachée, the Castle of the Hidden Grotto, is home to four immortals with voracious appetites for sex. Darius, recluse, shape-shifter and healer, is a djinn who upon being touched by a human, must fulfill their innermost desire. Lili is a succubus and craves sex like a woman yearns for a perfectly fitting bra. Elic, LIli’s lover, needs sex as well but can only find satisfaction with a human; alas, he and Lili have a relationship built on love, partner-sharing, and mutual masturbation. Elic also has another unique trait. He can transform into “Elle”, a female who has sex with males, then can convert back to “Elic” and impregnate a human female with the semen he stole. And then there’s Inigo, a satyr who’ll take whomever he can get: male, female, other immortals. 

Three tales take place in this novel; the latter two are intertwined with flashbacks. The year is 1829. David Beckett, a Jesuit-in-training, arrives at the chateau with the goal of redesigning the castle’s gardens. But he also has a secret mission. Reports have reached the Vatican of orgies, demon possession, and debauchery. David must uncover what is true and what is false. But with Lili setting her sights on him, it’s going to be difficult to hold to his self-imposed vows.

Part two takes place in modern times. Emmett Archer is dying. Isabel Archer, daughter and heir to the administration of the chateau, wants nothing to do with the immortals. You see, the heir would be responsible for finding Adrien, the seigneur of Grotte Cachée, a Gifted wife. Since Isabel is madly in love with Adrien, finding him a mate is on her to-do list right below cleaning the London Tower latrines. At thirty-five, Isabel’s biological clock is ticking down. Using her father’s illness to return home, she seduces Adrien in the hopes of becoming pregnant with his child, not that she’d ever let him know if she did.

Chloe is Emmett’s ding-bat nurse’s aid whose sexual appetites match the immortals, but whose sensibilities and dereliction of duty make you hope she drowns in one of the chateau’s springs or ponds (unfortunately, she doesn’t). Grace Garvey, a unique lesbian lady I wish the book would have shown more of, is the second nurse’s aid and the eventual recipient of one of the immortal’s “gifts”.

I can’t give you much more without spilling the proverbial beans, but I can say everyone (but maybe Chloe and who cares about her? I guarantee you won’t) winds up having a happily ever after. Break out the champagne.

Whispers of the Flesh is book three of the Castle of the Hidden Grotto series, but stands quite nicely on its own.  I haven’t read the earlier two books, but if Whispers of the Flesh is an indication of the quality of the other two, I’ll be checking them out shortly. Erotic? Definitely yes. Has a plot? For the most part, yes, though none of the tales have exceptionally complex nuances. Characters well written? Yes, again. Well edited? Yep. And Ms. Burton manages to convey a lot of information without info-dumping. Hurrahs all around.

At first, the thought of a Jesuit-in-training being deflowered by a succubus struck me as crass and dancing on forbidden ground, but Ms. Burton handles the tale remarkably well. Bondage, creative toys, body painting, threesomes, anal play, male-male, female-female: Whispers of the Flesh is a chocolate box full of sexual treats. My favorite quote: “The ceremonial consumption of these intoxicants induces a trancelike euphoria and diminished inhibitions. In this state of intoxication, the clan performs the sacred fertility rite, a period of ecstatic dancing followed by indiscriminate mating.” (Hint: it actually refers to a bunch of high naked hippies dancing around a bonfire.) If you are in the mood for quality erotica, Whispers of the Flesh will not disappoint. Well done, Ms. Burton.


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