Hump Day Reviews: The Black Door by Charlotte Howard

Imogen Pearce is a single mum of four children and fast approaching 40. She works at Ryedale Incorporated where she has to battle a younger and smarter generation to get to where she wants to go. If that means taking on the account of Cherry and Sean Rubin’s adult shop, then she will. But what happens when Imogen discovers the private club that they run at the back? And what happens when she realizes she knows quite a few members?


Men. All the bloody same.

My mind traced back to the day I had given up on one-sided monogamous relationships.

The children were at school or work, and the sun was beating down. It was a glorious day, and I had decided to go home for lunch, rather than spend it in a stuffy office.

I pulled up outside the house and a fleeting thought passed through my mind when I saw Connor’s car sitting in the driveway. My husband of eighteen years had had the same idea.

I crept into the house, hoping to surprise him. But, it turned out that his idea had involved a slutty bottle-blonde.

I wanted to blame the events that followed on a red mist descending over me. The truth is that in the time it took for my mind to register that some tart was riding my husband in what I later found out was known as reverse cowgirl, my mind had calculated the necessary response.

The skank lost a good handful of bleached hair, roots and all. I allowed her to gather her clothes and watched as she tugged her pants on whilst running out of the house. If nothing else, the neighbours got a good show.

Connor yelled at me. But his words were drowned out by the blood pumping in my ears. I marched back up the stairs and into his little study. Opening the window, I saw Miss Slut stood in the middle of the road, screeching obscenities at me. I looked at the Ferrari in our driveway and smiled.

I think his Xbox enjoyed its first and final flying lesson as it sailed out of the window. The fact that it landed in the bonnet of his prized mid-life crisis proved that Karma does exist.

Connor. Holly.

I made a mental note of the two names at the top of my imaginary hit list.
I blinked and I was back in the boardroom.


The above excerpt was what initially drew me to this book. It’s the perfect backstory sequence, setting up exactly where Imogen Pearce is coming from and why she’s in the middle of a sexual dry spell. Cutting back to the boardroom, we’re quickly introduced to Cal Ryedale, her boss and the clear love interest of the story – despite his irksome alpha male way of shouting at all his employees.

So score one for a forbidden office love affair. Throw in the temptations of a private club sealed behind the titular black door and you’ve got the makings of one saucy erotic romance.

But stop, hold that thought. Instead of immediately dishing up the sex scenes, The Black Door hides them from the reader for more than a third of the book. Say what?

Maybe I’m just an impatient pervert, but I took an informal poll of Facebook friends asking when they thought an erotic romance ought to start bringing the eroticism home. Most said right quick, with some chiming in that the first paragraph would be setup, the second teasing, and the third cutting straight to the chase. So let me just emphasize that if you are looking for a truly erotic read, this book is a seriously slow burn. Skip to Chapter 17 for the start of the good stuff.

Once we get past the repeated dysfunctional family scenes and Imogen’s irritating refrain of “But you’re married!” to the point where Cal and Imogen finally get down and dirty, the sex is hot (and frequently wet).

Oddly, however, the private sex club is painted in a very unsexy light. My thought was that this book meant to emphasize sex clubs as, well, sexy. As, indeed, something desirably deviant. After all, the cover promises “Adventurers Only,” suggesting that behind the black door lie all of your most exciting fantasies. Instead most of the scenes with Cherry and Sean Rubin suggest they are dirty smut peddlers, looking to deflower some poor innocent mother. Really? Why center the book’s action around Imogen’s work on a sex shop’s account if she’s not meant to lose herself in this tantalizing new world and chuck all her stuffy inhibitions once and for all?

Perhaps I’m not the ideal erotic romance reader, preferring the wicked charms of straight-up erotica to frothy happy endings where a woman is swept up by a billionaire Prince Charming. I felt misled by this book’s description, as it came off rather anti-erotic to me after promising the thrill of a back-room bordello. For me, even cheap thrills should be depicted as a bit of fun, rather than damning them as nothing but kinky sex with strangers or written off as the purview of nothing but cheaters and skanks. I was ultimately bummed that Cal and Imogen ended up being a couple of marrying-type prudes, despite their sex club memberships that could’ve truly set them apart from the rest of their cardigan-clad friends and neighbors.

C’est la vie. Maybe next time?


The Black Door
But don’t just take my word for it. Slip behind The Black Door yourself and see what you think. You can grab a copy at:

Tirgearr Publishing / Smashwords / Amazon US / Amazon UK


charlottehowardBritish author Charlotte Howard was born in Oman and spent much of the first part of her life flitting between Oman, Scotland, and England. Now settled in Somerset, Charlotte lives with her husband, two children, and growing menagerie of pets.

Her career as a writer began at an early age, with a poem being featured in an anthology for the East Midlands. Since then Charlotte has written many short stories and poems, and finally wrote her first full-length piece of fiction in 2010.
During what little spare time she has, Charlotte enjoys reading and writing (of course), spending time with her family, and watching action movies whilst eating curry and drinking tea.

Charlotte is an active member of Yeovil Creative Writers, and can be found online at her website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.