Book Review: Butterfly (Butterfly Trilogy #1) by Kathryn Harvey

Butterfly by Kathryn Harvey

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Summary:  Above an exclusive men's store on Rodeo Drive there is a private club called Butterfly, where women are free to act out their secret erotic fantasies. Only the most beautiful and powerful women in Beverly Hills are invited to join... JESSICA--The lawyer, who longs for the days when men were men, and women dressed to please them.

TRUDIE--The builder, who wants a man who will challenge her --all of her--with no holds barred.

LINDA--The surgeon, who uses masks to unmask the desires she hides even from herself.

But the most mysterious of them all is the woman who created Butterfly. She has changed her name, her accent, even her face to hide her true identity. And now she is about to reveal everything to realize the dream that has driven her since childhood

I should begin by saying that going into this book, I thought it was published in 2005 & was a contemporary romance. As I began reading, it became evident that this was not a story in that time period. I then found it was originally published in 1988. The many references in this book definitely made sense in that context but it became a bit of a distraction because there were so many brand names mentioned that are no longer "high end" (Lear instead of Gulf Stream, Pierre Cardin, Members Only, etc) or even recognizable. Furthermore, it didn't set the time in the way a story by Bret Easton Ellis can, it just felt like it was pushing "wealthy L.A." in a heavy handed way with all the name dropping.

I found the first chapter intro to be very compelling because you don't know who has died or who the woman who put it all into motion happens to be. I thought the mystery/revenge set up would get going much earlier on but instead we go back & forth in time getting to know the main female characters. While that was somewhat interesting, I found that it was mostly tedious because I wanted to get to the mystery. The main women we follow have all been on the rough side of relationships with men & other life circumstances but they excel in their professional lives & so seek liberation & freedom in Butterfly. I am a fan of stories of empowered women & certainly love stories where women take charge of their own happiness but none of the characters were very compelling in the long run. There was nothing new here & nothing that will stand out as revelatory or have lasting impression.

This may well have been an edgy story when it was originally published (what with women running & patronising the brothel) but by today's standard, it is quite tame. There's nothing sexually graphic or kinky here. And there's nothing wrong with that but I wouldn't even say there was anything in this book that felt like it belonged in "romance". It is a broad chick-lit ensemble where the b-story revenge plot is the most interesting thing going on. Don't go into it looking for more & it should be a satisfying telling. If you're looking for a romantic & erotic story of a woman patronising a brothel, pick up Robin Schone's "The Lover".

This is the first in the Butterfly Trilogy but I don't have any desire to read the remaining installments.

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