by Bertrice Small, historical (2004)
Brava, $15.00, ISBN 1-57566-857-2
Bertrice Small's latest Lolita porn story has actually some really enjoyable moments, although I am sure I am going to burn in hell for saying this. The Dragon Lord's Daughters is a three-in-one story of three sisters of Dragon Lair, Welshry that are the direct descendants of King Arthur. To make this brief, King Arthur impregnated their great-great-great grandmother before ditching her to the care of Merlin the Enchanter before he goes off to go pull a sword out a stone, marry a woman that cheats on him, and impregnate his own half-sister whose kid then does Arthur in - loser. Anyway, forget the loser, this is the story of three sisters, Averil, Maia, and the truly unfortunately named Junia. Junia by the way is the youngest sister if you can't tell from the name.
And true to Bertrice Small tradition, none of these girls are over the age of sixteen when they meet their heroes. Since these girls speak like adults, it is a little easier for me to pretend that the girls are much older. Just to make this clear, I am not entertained by the sex scenes (which I actually skip through, the be honest) but by everything else about the stories. Let me explain: I have reached a point in my reading where romance novels seem to be saturated to the max by formulaic safe and tame plots and silly characters that the pendulum seems to be swinging back towards "old-school" romances for me. I find The Dragon Lord's Daughters entertaining because the plots are certainly not formulaic, the heroines are actually defiantly proud ladies that aren't afraid to take control of their lives and sexuality, and Bertrice Small has actually toned down her overflowery prose to make her story very readable.
Averil is the first to get her story. Kidnapped by penniless Rhys Fitzhugh when the Englishman mistakes her for the heiress (Averil is actually the eldest daughter but she is an illegitimate child) and hopes to get his hands on her money, she is not happy at first. But soon she and Rhys realize that they are fellow illegitimate kiddies taken in by their fathers only to watch as their legitimate younger sibling gets all the goodies. Rhys isn't nasty as much as he is just dim - he is forced to kidnap Averil because Daddy Dearest on his deathbed made Rhys promise to do so so that Rhys' sister Mary can have some money to live on. Still, what's done is done and soon these two are getting it on like nobody's business. I like Averil. Rhys may be a hapless Daddy's boy but the fun here is following Averil as she easily walks in and runs roughshod over Rhys' feelings. There is something very subversively enjoyable about a story where the heroine gets to lead the hero around by the, er, tail while he meekly submits to her and goes against his own family to make her the new queen of his household. How fun!
Maia's story is the most discomfiting as the Lolita theme really becomes too pervalent for me to pretend that she, like her sisters, is eighteen or nineteen when her story takes place. Maia is another refreshing heroine - she wants to marry a wealthy and powerful man and she isn't afraid to be spoiled because she knows she has the right to be pampered and spoiled. She's the heiress, after all. But she has been plagued by dreams of True Love with a stranger whom she knows is rich and powerful and gorgeous; it is for him that she is holding out for despite being pursued by so many suitors. This man turns out to be Emrys Llyn, the Lord of the Lake, whose last two wives died under mysterious (magical) circumstances. Maia and her family are quick to rationalize that Emrys couldn't have murdered his last two wives as these women didn't come from wealthy families. Instead, it turns out that Emrys is living under a curse brought about by his wrathful mommy the Lady of the Lake and only the love of a pure "innocent" will give him a happily ever after. And while they're at it, someone please hand me the puke bucket because the whole "find love with an underaged kiddie to break a curse" thingie squicks me out.
Junia's story is the darkest of the three as it deals with Junia falling for Simon de Bohun, the son of her clan's enemy, and Simon's father Hugo steps in to stop this relationship by kidnapping Junia. Junia undergoes some experiences that also include physical and sexual abuse before finding a chance to love one more time with William le Clare. Junia may be a little too strong after the experiences that she has undergone, but I find it very easy to like her story as a strong heroine is never a bad thing.
I have serious problems with the heroines' age when they met their heroes, but as I've said, the fact that the heroines come off as more mature than their stated age make it easier for me to forget the heroines' age (it's still not easy, though). While the plotting and character development aren't impressive as The Dragon Lord's Daughters is essentially a collection of three novellas, the heroines are actually some of the smartest and spirited I've come across recently, the heroes can be really sweet and charming despite having blood-stained hands, and I find myself being entertained by this book much more compared to the latest releases by "better" authors out there.
I don't know whether my enjoyment of this book stems from the fact that so many other books I've read recently are all uniformly formulaic and safe that this book stands out in a very refreshing and good way or if it's because Bertrice Small has come out with a book that I would still find enjoyable under any other circumstances. The fact still stands though - I have to try really, really hard to overlook the heroines' underaged jail-bait status, but other than that, I've had a really fun time reading this book. I don't think it's a standout keeper but it's is a definite welcome change of mood, pace, and setting from the same old stuff out there.
This book at Amazon.com
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