Lover by Moonlight is an engaging erotic romance that takes the reader on a whirlwind of emotions, set against an idyllic backdrop of Oxford, the English countryside and Verona.
The story is essentially the sexual awakening of twenty year old Rosa as she falls in love for the first time. Complications arise as the object of her desire is her step brother, Roberto. Although her feelings are returned, Roberto embarks upon the subterfuge of pretending to be someone else, in order to make love to Rosa thus setting in motion a complex chain of events.
In Rosa, Emily Arden has constructed a realistic young woman, who is studying at Oxford and desperate to spread her wings and experience more of life. She is on the cusp between girl and woman and Arden very effectively illustrates all of the confusing feelings that are part and parcel of that time.
The story is told to us from the perspective of both Rosa and Roberto, so we are able to see how each of them is trying to avoid what they are feeling. As they hide behind pretences and, other characters such as heart throb actor, Aaron Forsythe and Italian beauty Lysabella are drawn into their midst to cloud issues even further, Arden successfully builds the tension that adds an extra spark to the story.
Arden also creates the perfect backdrop to her story as the setting changes from Oxford to Rosa’s family home in the countryside and Roberto’s villa in Verona. The descriptions of Italy are particularly sumptuous and the reader can almost experience the warmth of the sun and the wonderful food that intensifies the romance being played out between Rosa and Roberto. The skill with which Arden employs descriptive language is also evident in the sex scenes, which are neither smutty nor gratuitous.
I think in Rosa, Arden creates a convincing and likeable character. She is a naive girl and I particular liked her friendships with Sara and the more flighty Tamsin. I have to confess though that I had more trouble liking Roberto, partly because of the way he manipulates Rosa. In fairness, he tortures himself over his behaviour but I found it hard to forgive him. I also had slight issues about the fact that at 34, he’s a lot older than Rosa and has in fact been her step brother since she was three.
Arden goes to great pains, however, to show that the relationship is equal and both characters have been attracted to each other long before their sexual liaison. In fact, even though Rosa thinks she is having sex with someone else, she is fantasising that it is Roberto so maybe I am being over-sensitive.
The lovely Italian backdrop makes this book the perfect choice for a summer read and, if you like romance with a hint of erotica, then I think this could be just the book for you.