A couple on the verge of divorce begrudgingly agree to an unorthodox marital retreat. Despite warnings and portents, Hilary and Jack travel to the remote Washington scablands, braving a strange religious demonstration to arrive at Balustrade, an oddly voyeuristic couples program.
Under the tutelage of Chantal, a harsh mistress, and Ludo, a brooding sex surrogate, the couple find their most intimate relations under discomfiting scrutiny. The therapy is ritualistic, sensual, wearing away their inhibitions to lush, orgiastic ends. For a while, Hilary luxuriates in a slippery, sensual descent into wickedness. But when time begins to disintegrate in dream-like fugues, sexual awakening takes a turn for the sinister.
Clandestine cabals whisper behind closed doors. Robed figures congregate in the dark cavern at the apex of the strange building’s courtyard.
Nothing is quite as it seems. And a question looms…
Is it the intention of Chantal and Balustrade to help mend their failing marriage or are their minds and bodies being groomed for more sinister, carnal purposes? Hilary must strive to unlock the secrets behind Balustrade before it pushes her to the brink of insanity and ignites her darkest urges.
Author: Mark Henry
Series: The Carnal Staircase Trilogy
Published by Self Source: Author
Published: May 4th 2014
Genres: Erotic Horror
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It always makes me feel bad when I come across a book that everybody is touting as great and I simply found it as uninspiring. The premise as well as the cover of Balustrade is what initially caught my attention. I do so love dark erotica and was really in the mood for a nice juicy steamy dark read! A couple on verge of splitting up heading out to try an unorthodox marital retreat. Something dark and sinister will eventually happen. Oh yeah, that definitely perked my interest and I was excited to get started. I settled in to get wowed.
However as I began to read, I found it just couldn’t keep my attention. Nothing about the characters jumped out at me screaming like me, love me, hate me fear me. I found Jack to be a bit too predictable in his actions. There were a few time I almost like Hilary (ALMOST) but then I felt her actions would eventually drift into a wishy-washy category where upon I would lose interest. Those characters that should have been dark and mysteriously evil just came off creepy to me. Not as in chills down my spine GET-OUT-OF-THERE! creepy but more of I’ll just change seats on the bus type. I know this book has been tapped as dark erotica, however I found it to be more horror than dark. There was quite a bit of sex, including voyeurism as well as F/F action and yet nothing that got my juices flowing. The plot line should have been able to drag me in but I just couldn’t get excited about what was going to happy to these people, these characters, when they can’t elicit any emotions out of me other than meh.
As I struggled through the plot, I found myself 4 days in and at only 60%, I finally started skimming to see if I would warm up to Balustrade and really, I didn’t. I finally hopped to the end to see if I can work backwards hoping to perk my interest. Maybe knowing the outcome would get me curious to find out how they got to this final point. Unfortunately, know how it ends, not even the final sentence which offers up a new twist didn’t change my opinion.
This is my first book by author Mark Henry and I know there will be two more books in this series. I won’t completely write off reading any more books by Mr. Henry but at this point, I have no further interest in continuing The Carnal Staircase Trilogy.