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Absolute Pleasure

Another erotic romance available from St. Martin's Press.


Reviews for Absolute Pleasure

"Cheryl Holt demonstrates her phenomenal understanding of women's secret longings in her third erotic romance. With titillating and provocative narrative, she builds both the sexual tension and the romance to a point of eruption."

— Kathe Robin

"This is the best thing you've done so far." A quote from Jennifer Enderlin, my editor at St. Martins' Press, after reading the finished manuscript.

"Such a strong cast of characters, fabulous eroticism, and a subtly complex plot demonstrates Cheryl Holt's beautiful story telling ability. Holt's scintillating gift for tapping into secret fantasies satisfies readers who enjoy the combination of the sexually explicit with a heart stopping romance. Add this one to your keeper shelf; it's an absolute pleasure! Very highly recommended."

— Cindy Penn, Senior Editor,

"This is a very, very good book. If you love to read romance novels with some steam, read this one! You won't be disappointed!"


What fans are saying

What fans are saying about Absolute Pleasure

"Mesmerizing...heart wrenching..."

— Suzanne, Maryland

"I had to write to tell you how much I loved it..."

— Debbie, USA

"I was reading it at work at my desk, and I had tears in my eyes."

— Danielle, USA

"WOW! I loved this story!"

— Robin, USA

"Absolutely fantastic! Why couldn't that be me in that book?"

— Karen, London

"Another five star book! You are the QUEEN of villains!"

— Jen, USA

"I have read all your books, but ABSOLUTE PLEASURE is my favorite by far."

— Leola, USA

"The tenderness in your loves scenes is the biggest reason I fall for your heroes!"

— Kim, USA

"Sixty lashes of a cold, partially cooked, wet noodle and the Torquemadaesque Bastard-Of-The-Century Award to the Earl of Norwich. An enormous amount of castor oil and Kate-The-Shrew Award to Charlotte... I loved this book!"

— Claudia, USA


Awards for Absolute Pleasure

Sneak preview

Absolute Pleasure Sneak Preview

She was a complete innocent...until he showed her the most irresistible passion.

Lady Elizabeth Harcourt has decided to have her portrait painted by Italian artist, Gabriel Cristofore. He's a notorious seducer of women, and he has more in mind for her than just a portraiture sitting. This scene describes her first visit to his studio.

An excerpt from Chapter Four...

They started down the walk, and she was damp and chilled. The temperature was frigid, the precipitation bracing, and guiltily, she pondered how long they'd tarried on the stairs. When she was with Mr. Cristofore, her discretion and prudence fled.

Buck up! she warned. Before you step over the threshold and the door shuts behind you.

While she planned to relish in their rendezvous, she wasn't about to do anything foolish. He might make her feel like a giggling, swooning juvenile, but she was an adult, who'd already beheld his capacity for seduction. She wasn't about to be another conquest in what she was sure was an attenuated string of amorous pursuits.

Yet, as the door swung back, and she trod into the cottage, she could barely keep from clucking her tongue in dismay. The main salon was a veritable sinner's paradise, a sanctuary of iniquity, a lavish, lewd celebration for the eyes, the nose, the skin.

Yes, it was unmistakably an artisan's studio. There were easels and shelves covered with haphazard collections of paints, brushes, and other accouterments. Evidently, he had frantic spurts of inspiration that he couldn't contain for there were half-finished oil paintings--portraits, animals, pastoral countrysides, busy city avenues--leaned and piled in the corners. All were in vibrant, intense hues, rich in detail and emotion, and they offered exuberant confirmation of his talent.

However, the room was also a visual feast, meant to sensually invigorate the painter as well as the painted.

Potted plants, many with festive flowers, hung from the ceiling and sat on the floor. Drapes and rugs, in varying hues of blue and green, were scattered about.

Exquisite light filtered in, making it difficult to recall the dismal weather outside. She felt as though she'd been transported onto an Italian portico.

There was an older style marble fireplace, and a stove. Both blazed with cheery fires, and the duel heating converted the ambiance to humid and tropical. She longed to shed her clothing, to lounge and pretend she was on a secluded, equatorial beach.

A plush fainting couch was positioned in the center. It was covered with cushy pillows that fell to the floor in casual disarray. The material was soft and inviting, imploring her to recline upon it, to sprawl and grow more comfortable than she ought.

How would she keep her wits about her in such an indecent environment? Why would she want to?

Mr. Cristofore's hand was at the small of her back, urging her on and in. While any sane woman would have run fast and furiously in the opposite direction, she was excited, in awe, ready for whatever might happen in the risqué atmosphere. She'd come craving amusement and, apparently, she'd found it in spades.

"What do you think?" he asked from behind her. His voice was low and intimate, and it slithered across her nerves, inducing her to prickle and tremble.

Crazily, she was wild to acquiesce in any unnatural deed he might suggest.

He stepped nearer, his legs pushing against her dress, so that the toes of his boots dipped under the hem of her skirt. She inhaled vigorously, cherishing his unrivaled smell, his unequaled warmth.

"It's remarkable." She peered at him over her shoulder, and the side of her arm brushed his chest, her hip embedded in the cradle of his thighs. "How lucky you are."

"I agree."

Their gazes met and held, and Elizabeth was stunned by the forceful response that his adjacency produced. A tangible energy flared between them, inducing an invisible field of animation, and she'd never endured anything remotely similar.

Stimulated and enlivened, the hairs on her neck and arms stood up. The air crackled with a peculiar intensity, much as it might with the approach of a lightening storm. If she'd pointed at him, she wouldn't have been surprised to see sparks shooting from her fingertip.

He felt it, too. His anatomy was thoroughly attuned to hers, his torso reaching out, seeking a connection she couldn't define, but even in her callow condition, she recognized it as the link that drew lovers together.

Languidly, his fervid appraisal drifted to her mouth, and his keen evaluation ignited a fire in her belly. His lips were just a few inches from her own. Imperceptibly, he shifted nearer, hovering, and for the briefest second, she truly supposed he was about to kiss her--an absurd assumption! She jerked away, her heart literally skipping a beat, and her startled reaction halted him from proceeding with whatever he'd proposed.

He increased the distance between them, and his brow creased with concern, as though demanding an explanation for their extraordinary corporeal responses. She suffered the distinct impression that he wasn't happy; he was confounded and baffled and--she was convinced--more than a bit annoyed.

She might have laughed at his consternation, so plainly was it written on his face, but she decided to take pity on him instead. They enjoyed a perplexing, significant, mutual affinity, when he had calculated for none to exist at all. He was less than ecstatic.

How splendid to bedevil such a magnetic, sophisticated ladies' man!

Still, she could never forget that he was a bounder of the first water. Shady incentives had driven him to invite her to a painting session. In all likelihood, he had calculated a scheme that involved a scenario that would have her pining away and incessantly brooding over him and their relationship. The ultimate objective of his plot alluded her, but her inability to grasp his exact aims didn't make his machinations any less real.

While such an intrigue could presumably succeed on a less-astute woman, Elizabeth hadn't been called sensible all her life for nothing. She had a good head on her shoulders, and she meant to use it. Two could play at the game of fictitious enamoration, though on her part, at least, the engrossment was genuine.

Perhaps Mr. Cristofore had finally met his female match!

Absolute Pleasure

She was a complete innocent...until he showed her the most irresistible passion




The lonely, never-married Lady Elizabeth Harcourt desperately longs for a distraction. She finds one when a chance encounter leads her to the lush studios of artist Gabriel Cristofore. Gabriel insists upon painting Elizabeth's portrait, vowing to do justice to her ravishing figure. But Elizabeth soon realizes that Gabriel's plans for her have little to do with painting — for his true passion in life is the art of seduction.

The first moment Gabriel sets eyes on Elizabeth he can see she's not his usual mark. Her lush auburn locks, luscious skin, and ruby lips offer just a hint of the pleasure they promise. Despite his desire, he is torn between seducing her instantly and taking his time so that he can explore every aspect of her. But Gabriel is about to discover that some affairs cannot be so easily abandoned — especially when the heart of a rogue has been captured.