In the Garden of Sin is the fourth book in the Hidden Grotto series by Louisa Burton. The series is known for its lavish scenes and sensual nature and for the residents of the Hidden Grotto, immortal follets that feed off human sexual desire and sexual needs and do their best to give the humans unparallel sexual satisfaction in exchange for the sexual energy they take so willingly.
The first part of In the Garden of Sin starts out with an elder Hannah Leeds recalling the adventure that led her to the Hidden Grotto and her erotic experiences there.
Hannah was a young, well to do English maiden, a virgin, but to save the life of someone she cared for she decided to become a Venetian courtesan so she could get close to the man sentencing her loved one to death. Her experiences at the Hidden Grotto are sometimes stimulating and sometimes just not what I have come to expect from this series.
While it was an interesting tale, the follets played a very minimal part and the exquisite sexual experiences seemed to be lacking the sensual quality they held in the other books of the series and were more current, straight forward and focused a bit on BDSM and sexual training. The delightful feel of erotic vintage Victorian novels was gone, replaced with the same language you can read in any current erotica book.
The second part of the book takes place in current times and similarly left me feeling disappointed as it started out with a new follet, a distasteful vampire bitch, Galiana- who was mentioned briefly in Hannah’s tale. It also features Turek the equally distasteful vampire that had been so fascinated with Lili, that one that Elic got rid of to protect Lili. He’s back after having undergone plastic surgery to hide his identity.
Turek is still obsessed with Lili and happens to come across her and Elic while they are vacationing in New York. He follows her and finds a way that he can get to her at the Hidden Grotto, the place he had tried for so long to find but never could. He ends up at the Grotto with a plan to get revenge on Lili. If he can’t change her he’ll kill her. She doesn’t even recognize him after all the surgery he’s had. (A little too modern for me, vampires undergoing plastic surgery, hmmm)
Galiana is very taken by Elic and wants him all for her so she offers him something that just may lure him away from Lili. This is one part that will leave you wondering, will Elic do something stupid and jeopardize the safety of the follets’ existence at the Grotto? His plan may be extremely stupid… or awesomely brilliant.
But Turek and Galiana also have a plan, one that involves killing Lili and luring Elic away from the Grotto. Will they be successful?
In the Garden of Sin could have been so much better. While the extremely sexual nature of the book was still there it was lacking a bit of the magic that this series has always offered before. Perhaps it was the focus on the distasteful characters Galiana and Turek or perhaps it was all the BDSM sexuality in the book that turned me off. I am not sure. Something just didn’t click with me. In all the other books I was engaged, I was thoroughly enjoying the tales, especially the last book. I really have a thing for the reclusive djinni Darius and would love to see more of him. It is the resident follets of the Grotto that I love most and want to hear their tales and this book was woefully lacking in them, it lacked focus on the characters that we really care about in this series.
And then the end…completely anticlimactic. Just when Burton had the chance to redeem herself and save this book she didn’t. She just grazed over it, almost wrote the whole thing off. And it’s huge! The scene could have been everything the other books have been and more. Burton had the chance to truly make magic happen and didn’t. Maybe it will be the focus of the next book. I hope so because if not this whole book was for naught. This whole book set the stage, set the scene for this one defining moment…that happened totally off screen. Boo! Hiss!
It’s like sitting through an awful movie hoping it is going to get better and just when it does and you get excited and interested… it’s over.
To say I was disappointed is an understatement. Louisa Burton’s books have always been so much better than this. I hope the next one goes back to the follets and specifically the two that have endured such hardship, the love story fans want to read.