Readers who like their books steamy will find themselves drawn to this erotically-charged novel that immerses you in its intense world. Keep reading to get a tantalizing taste of Sexual Sorcery by CM Fontana and then add it to your bookshelf....
An unwitting academic stumbles into the erotically-charged occult underworld of Victorian London. With a cast of characters including an investigator with a talent for seduction, a mesmerist collecting a harem of beautiful ladies, and a woman who believes she has had sex with Satan, Sexual Sorcery is a sizzling story of decadence, conspiracy and carnality.
When a collection of books go missing from the University's collection, Fredrick Clifford travels to London in search of the likely culprit, an apparently respectable gentleman named Victor Braystone. But he soon finds that he is not the only one with an interest in Mr Braystone, and the manipulative Catherine Wolseley soon draws him into her own schemes.
As he, Miss Wolseley and their seductive accomplice begin to unravel Mr Braystone's plots, Fredrick Clifford finds himself both confused and entrapped in a shocking world of of sex and duplicity. And as the trail leads him from the seductions of a London club to a Satanic altar in the wilds of the Welsh borders, he struggles to make sense of both the dark uncertainties of the occult, and of an unfamiliar realm of debauchery and sex.
By Saturday morning, Fredrick had still not had time to visit the agency to advertise for a new domestic servant, and he was becoming heartily sick of bread and marmalade for breakfast – or, indeed, for any other meal that he could not reasonably eat out. It was also an irritation that he had to answer his own front door, and now he found himself greeted at his front step by a small grubby boy, in bare feet and ragged trousers, presenting him with a sealed envelope.
He took the letter, tipped the boy a coin, and closed the door.
The paper was expensive, that handwriting feminine. Inside, a note simply read:
Two o’clock. My carriage will collect you. We cannot have gaps in your education as a gentleman. Please be an attentive student. Such classes are not inexpensive.
And that was all. He assumed that it was from Miss Wolseley, and resigned himself to having to follow her cryptic instructions. In the meantime, he thought, he would finish his newspaper, and then visit the agency to and see if they could alleviate his domestic difficulties.
And so, soon after lunchtime, after a satisfactory visit to the agency he found on returning to his house a familiar carriage parked outside.
“My good man, am I late?”
“Not at all Sir,” the gruff coachman tipped his hat. “I’m early. Take your time, Sir. We aren’t due til ‘alf past.”
Fredrick re-emerged promptly at two o’clock, and climbed into the carriage, and sat back while it bounced and swerved through the city’s congested streets. Out of the window he saw gentrified houses, and, as the traffic moved slowly on the main roads, although the journey was barely two miles, it took over twenty minutes. He was relieved to find that they stopped in a fashionable West End street.
He stepped down from the carriage, and the coachman indicated the door across the road.
He crossed the street and rapped with the brass door knocker.
Promptly, the door was opened, and a short, grey haired maid opened the door.
“Fredrick Clifford,” he introduced himself. “I may be expected?”
“Of course,” the maid curtseyed, with a hint of an accent, perhaps Italian or French, and stepped back to let him in.
She took his coat, hat and cane, and then led him up the stairs, and into a well furnished sitting room. Tall windows let light flood into the room through lace curtains, the room was decked with a range of plushly upholstered chairs and settees, the largest of which, unusually, seemed to be the size of a single bed, but with ornate arms and a high back.
The maid motioned him to take a seat in a plush chair by the window. She assured him, “I will say that you have arrived,” and then withdrew.
As he waited, he looked around. The décor was, the more he considered the details, eccentric.
Not only were the chairs unusually deeply upholstered, and the main sofa far wider than was needed, but there were numerous sturdy hooks, which looked like they might have hung chandeliers before gas lighting was installed, both in the ceiling and also, inexplicably in the skirting board at the foot of the wall. There was also a faint but spicy scent in the air, which he suspected might be incense – an unusual scent to encounter outside of a High or Catholic church.
The door opened, and he turned to see a tall, graceful woman step into the room. She wore a red silk robe like a dressing gown, and around her neck an ornate necklace of black beads. Her brown hair hung loosely in flowing curls, cascading over her shoulders, and Fredrick’s eyes were drawn further down, to the sides of her firm breasts, indecently visible where the two sides of the robe met.
“I’m so sorry!” he instinctively stood up and turned his back on her, to stare fixedly out of the window.
“And why, Mr Clifford, are you sorry?” The voice was soft, the accent unmistakably continental.
“I am… that is to say…” He could barely hear her approach, her bare feet on the carpet. “Perhaps I should return when you are properly dressed.”
Her voice, now just over his shoulder, chided, “Mr Clifford, I was told that you were a gentleman.”
“Well, yes!” he replied, indignantly.
“And is it polite, when a lady enters a room, turn your back on her, and then proceed to criticise her choice of clothing.”
“Well, I… there is a question of what is appropriate!”
“Your lessons today,” she corrected him, “are to deal instead with the question of what is courteous – gentlemanly. You may be quite right about what is appropriate. But this afternoon, that is not our subject.”
To Frederick, what was gentlemanly and what was appropriate seemed intimately connected. But Miss Wolseley had, presumably, some purpose in sending him here.
“I apologise,” he conceded, turning to face her. It would be a shame to argue with such an attractive hostess.
She smiled and inclined her head. “Then shall we start again?”
The woman turned and walked softly back to the door. He watched her robe sway against her legs, and was impressed by her grace. She left the room, and shut the door after herself. Fredrick sat down again, and waited.
After a minute, the door opened again, and the woman returned.
Fredrick stood up, and stepped forwards to greet her. “Fredrick Clifford, Madam. At your service.”
She held out her hand, palm down, and he took it gently, and bowed slightly as he motioned to kiss it. He could not help, bending forward, but appreciate the gentle curve of her breasts, barely draped in thin red silk.
“Signorina Maria Cenci,” she replied with a hint of a curtsey. “Charmed to meet you, Sir.”
She motioned him across to the wide sofa, strewn with cushions, and when he sat she took a seat next to him. Her robe fell open at the knee, revealing her slender, pale calf, and Fredrick made an effort not to look too intently.
The door opened again, and the elderly maid entered, carrying a tray, which she set down on the table by the settee.
“Milk and sugar, Mr Clifford?” Signorina Cenci asked.
“Tell me Mr Clifford, she asked, as she poured the tea and the maid withdrew, “how should a gentleman behave towards a lady?”
Fredrick considered for a moment, and then, taking the cup and saucer offered to him, replied: “A gentleman should always be respectful.”
“And why is that important?” she asked. And when Fredrick had no ready answer, she clarified, “Why should a gentleman be respectful to a lady, and not, perhaps, to a tree or stone?”
“Obviously, trees and stones don’t have feelings!”
“So when you say respectful, you mean that you should be aware of the lady’s feelings?”
“Quite so,” Fredrick said, taking another sip of tea and then setting the cup aside. “The male is the stronger sex. It is our duty to protect, both physically and mentally, the frailer gender. It shows us to be civilized human beings, and not savages.”
“And so,” Signorina Cenci asked, “you see that, if a man turns his back on a woman as she enters the room, she might be upset. In which case, the gentlemanly response is to greet her courteously, perhaps?”
“I see your point, Madam,” Fredrick acknowledged, not wanting to argue.
“But is it also gentlemanly,” she teased, “as you bend down to kiss her hand, to stare so intently at her breasts?”
Fredrick blushed, “I am so sorry, Madam, I didn’t intend to.”
She laughed, and stood. “Then shall we try again?”
“Of course, if you wish.”
She left her tea cup on the table, walked to the door, turned, paused, and then returned towards the sofa.
Fredrick stood, stepped forward, and took her hand when she offered it. This time, as he bent and motioned to kiss her hand, he kept his eyes fixed firmly on the floor.
Again Signorina Cenci laughed.
“Mr Clifford,” she smiled, placing her hand on his arm. “Do you really think that if a lady deliberately appears dressed like this – ” she raised her other hand to her neck and let her index finger slowly trace a line along the hem of the robe, down her chest, over the mound of her breast “ – that she does not want to be admired?”
“Really, Madam, I protest,” Fredrick sighed, “You say that I should not stare, and now you say that I should stare. What am I to do?”
“Mr Clifford, you are to be a gentleman. You are to behave with consideration for the lady’s feelings.” Seeing that he was still confused, she continued. “If you stare dumbly at my chest – “ she turned slightly, so that he could fully appreciate the silhouette of her breasts – “I might consider the stare to be aggressive, or I might worry that you are no longer capable of rational thought. You are still capable of thought, Sir?”
He raised his eyes from the curve of her robe, to look her in the eye again. “Yes, of course.”
“But if you ignore me entirely, I might think that I have failed to impress you, or that you consider me ugly. You do not consider me ugly, do you?”
“No! Of course not!”
“Then, Mr Clifford, please, stop trying to guess what the rules are. There is but one rule to being a gentleman. Consideration for the feelings of the other person. And so, consider my feelings, and act accordingly.”
“Very well,” Fredrick acquiesced.
“Then shall we try once more?”
She walked back to the door, and again turned to face him. She paused for a moment. “Are you ready, Sir?”
She ran her finger down the front of her robe, and deliberately opened the gap at her chest a little further, so that the sides of both breasts were quite bare. “Are you certain?”
Fredrick paused for just a second and then answered confidently: “Yes, Madam.”
Signora Cenci walked across the room, her hips swaying, and held out her hand, palm down.
Fredrick took her hand. As he bowed and raised it towards his mouth, he let his eyes glance over her soft flesh, and at the lowest point of his bow he glanced up to look her in the eye. Then he looked back towards her hand as he stood, and looked her in the eye again, keeping a lingering hold of her hand before releasing her.
“Mr Clifford!” she smiled, “Have you not been taught that it is too forward, even impertinent, to look a lady in the eye as you kiss her hand?”
“Signora Cenci,” he countered, “From the way that you adjusted your gown, I understood that you wanted me to be forward, even impertinent.”
“Bravo!” she clapped her hands three times and smiled. “Please sit, and explain to me your strategy.”
As they both sat down, he on her right, she on his left, he explained. “I trust that you wanted,” he glanced again at the curve of her breast, “to be appreciated, but with discretion. And I gathered that you would not mind a little impertinence. When I first looked up at your eyes, you could have looked away, but you did not. And so I inferred that a little more impertinence might be in order before I released your hand.”
“Perfect, Mr Clifford! You considered my feelings, and acted accordingly. One might almost say, appropriately?”
Fredrick smiled, “Yes, I think that you have proved that point.”
“Which is exactly why you are here,” she explained. She put her right hand behind her on the settee and turned her body towards him. “I am told that you are an intelligent, educated gentleman. But you have been taught to be a gentleman by following a set of rules. And now you find yourself in situations where the rules do not seem to work. Situations for which no rules have been written. Is this so?”
Fredrick nodded, “Increasing so, it seems.”
“And you are particularly unsure how to deal, in certain, unusual situations, with ladies?”
“I understand how to make polite conversation,” he admitted, “but there there are things, I find, that I do not really understand.”
“And that is why you have been sent to me,” Signora Cenci smiled. “Because if you are to be a gentleman in these situations, you will be more confident, yes?”
“I suppose so, yes.”
“And to be a gentleman you need only two things. You need to act with consideration or the other person. And you need to understand what the other person wants. You see?”
“Theoretically, I suppose.”
“At this moment, yes, quite theoretically. Because you do not know enough about what a woman wants, and so you cannot treat her…. appropriately. So we shall give you a basic understanding.”
She looked at him, saying nothing more.
He felt that he was expected to react in some way, but had no idea how.
“Mr Clifford,” she flicked her long hair over her shoulder, and then lowered her hand to her knee, where she parted her robe a little. “You are alone with a woman who has chosen to greet you in a quite indecorous outfit – so indecorous, that she has not even troubled to put on underwear, but instead has nothing between you and her but a single layer of very soft, very thin silk. And now she has sat mere inches from you, turned her body towards you, and is now waiting for you. Can you not imagine a gentlemanly reaction?”
He sat, confused, uncertain.
“To make this simple,” Signora Cenci coaxed, “you have two options. If you are not sure what I want, then you can construct some witty, sensitive line of conversation to draw me into disclosing my desires. Or you can take action, in such a way that my response will tell you more of what I want…. Do you feel able to engage in witty conversations at this moment?”
He shook his head, mutely.
“Then Mr Clifford, take action!”
C M Fontana is a British erotic author, fusing plots of mystery, intrigue, and the supernatural with racy erotica. The first full-length novels, Sexual Sorcery, was published for Kindle in September 2015, with two novellas continuing the series released soon after.