The Empress' New Clothes
by Jaid Black, futuristic (2001)
Ellora's Cave, $6.49, ISBN 1-84360-583-X


A normal, drop-dead beautiful woman is kidnapped by a seven feet tall otherworldly barbarian-space-lord-king while on a meditation retreat. You can't get campier than this. The Empress' New Clothes, the first in the author's Trek Mi Q'an series, is just plain fun, loopy, and crazy.

Heroine Kyra Summers are relaxing and discovering the joys of the Smiling Faces and Peaceful Hearts meditation retreat with her friend Geris when she encounters two tall, big, brawny guys one day. Scared, the two ladies flee, but ohmigosh, Kyra's clothes suddenly vanishes, poof, like that. Cool. Someone teach me how to do that before I drop by and give Antonio Banderas a visit. Anyway, Kyra is soon in the hands of the High King of Tryston, Emperor of the Trek Mi Q'an, or just Zor Q'an Tal for short.

As far as I can tell, Zor's kingly duties consist of servicing overly-heated servant girls and now, Kyra, with maybe some politic stuff to handle once a while. But Kyra has other ideas. She wants to go home. She doesn't want to be Zor's Sacred Mate. She wants to - oooh, ooh-ooh-ooh, oh-oh-oh, Zor, do that again, oh oh oh. The rest of the story deals with Kyra learning the ways of the Mi Q'an folks while trying to stand her own ground with Zor. Not that one can do that easy, especially with a seven feet tall Conan the Space Barbarian here.

In a way, I am reminded of Dara Joy's Knight Of A Trillion Stars, but I find The Empress' New Clothes a much more superior story. Sure, Dara Joy's a bit funnier than Jaid Black, although Ms Black doesn't do too bad a job here, but Kyra is a much better heroine. Her character is at least consistent and develops somewhat realistically throughout the story. And Zor's cute. Despite his size and alpha arrogance, he is like a bewildered puppy as he tries to figure out his new wife and what she wants to return to that "primitive world" of hers.

This story is also as hot as I would expect from Ms Black. Heck, Zor is seven feet tall, people. Imagine the wedding night thing, oh dear. And Kyra, once she loses her initial reluctance, lets everything hang loose and she does it most vocally, much to Zor's delight. I have some reservations about the slightly purple prose, but still, it's fun.

That's right, I think this story's fun. The whole ridiculously male-dominated world, the ridiculously virile, male, and overly sexual hero, and the cheesy mix of barbarian-meets-Buck-Rogers plot all blend into one potent fun story that doesn't beg to be taken any more seriously than what it is: a pure slice of cheesy sex fantasy. And as a plus, there is plot and humor to go with the abundance of torrid lovemaking. Like I said, fun.

Rating: 86


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