Format: Paperback, 352pp
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
The Phantom of the Opera is a story that most of us know through theater or television. A few know it from the novel by Gaston Leroux which was first published in a serialized form from 1909 to 1910. Though today it is considered a classic world-wide, the novel at first sold poorly and has been out of print several times. Some of Phantom's fame is due to many successful stage and screen adaptations.
Unmasqued by Colette Gale is one of many adaptations that can be found and it follows the original idea of the story to an extent. However, this being an erotic retelling of a classic, the story does go places that your average reader might not expect. It opens with this wonderful dedication: 'To all the women who thought Christine should have stayed with the Phantom' and from the dedication page on you are pulled into a story that is vibrant and lush.
Christine Daae came to live in the Opera House as a girl, her father having died when she was young. Before his death she showed great promise as a singer but after his death she felt that her music had somehow passed with him. In the Opera House she is quiet and shy, but most of all terribly lonely. She blossoms when the Opera Ghost, her Angel of Music, takes an interest in her voice and begins to tutor her in music and voice.
Of course we know this right away to be Erik, the Phantom of the Opera. Dark, mysterious, demanding, not to mention exciting, Christine falls for him despite what lies behind the mask. Although he can not believe it at first, soon a real bond, true love, has grown between them.
After a brilliant performance on the stage and an indiscreet meeting with Raoul, a childhood friend turned admirer, Christine is taken to the Phantom's home deep beneath the Opera House. She is gone for seven days and in that time Erik and Christine come to truly know and understand each other. But then an unthinkable and unforgivable act of Christine's wrenches them apart.
Raoul is there to pick up the pieces when Christine returns from her dark and erotic journey. More than willing to replace whatever it is she has lost, Raoul tries desperately to please her and in the end forces her into submission. But in her heart Christine knows that Erik, the Opera Ghost, her Angel of Music, is the only man she could ever love. But can Erik forgive her curiosity? Can the two young lovers get past the skin deep passions to the true passion that lies deep in their souls?
One of things that I enjoyed most, beside the shiver inducing erotic elements of the story, were the wonderful characters. It flows smoothly amongst Christine, Erik, Maude, Raoul, Carlotta, and every character in between. You are given glimpses into their lives, a look into their lovely or wicked souls; their cravings and desires. The Opera House comes alive within the pages and you are treated to glittering golden scenes in the richest hues that become the backdrop for constant sexual satisfaction.
Unmasqued, a retelling of a classic, is an erotic classic in its own right. Charged with erotic images, sensual passion, fiery longing, and steamy scenes on and off the stage this is a book to be devoured in one seating. Then opened again and read slowly just for the pure pleasure of it.