by Louisa Trent, historical (2008)
Loose Id, $6.99, ISBN 978-1-59632-684-2
Icon is set in Northumbria in year 938 and it is not a story for the faint of heart due to the excess of sexual antics that involve the use of toys, punishment, and more than one partner.
Meet our hero Taracut. Until the previous year, the now 34-year old bachelor was known as the Gelded because he was a virgin. Because Taracut is the king's best warrior, the king makes it his business to make sure that Taracut is as well-rutted as the rest of his army of mighty soldiers so Taracut in the recent months had been taking part in public and impressively showy sexual acts to please his monarch and quell the rumors about any sexual dysfunction that he may have. Threesomes, foursomes, whatever - his "hard as a cudgel, as heavy as a battering ram, with the length of a lance and the width of a club" you-know-what can take anything thrown its way.
Yes, you read right - it's the length of a lance and the width of a club. I've heard about Siward the Dane who should be walking about around 938 and he was said to be a giant whose grandfather was a bear. Maybe Taracut is an even bigger giant than this fellow? Maybe he's thirty feet tall.
Anyway, back to the story, the only problem here, apart from a penis of terrifying dimension if Taracut is supposed to be an ordinary guy, is that Taracut is not finding any pleasure in his acts. He's doing the pumpies out of a sense of duty to his liege. He literally thinks of England while he's doing the ugly.
Our heroine is Noci. She has her own reasons for agreeing to be whatever Taracut wants her to be and do whatever he wants her to. There is also something about her having visions about him even before she has met him, but what's a medieval historical romance without a vision or three, eh?
The story is pretty much nine-tenth sex and one-tenth some plot about Noci wanting to be free to return to the temple that she considers her home. Taracut is pretty much a walking beef while Noci has a mouth on her to the point that I expect a canned "Hee, hee, hee!" track to play in the background every time she says something that is meant to be sassy and precious. Other than that, these two characters don't really have much depths in their personalities. Then again, I suspect that it's what they do, not what they feel or say, that is supposed to count the most here, heh.
Unfortunately for me, I find the sexual aspects of the story too exaggerated to be taken seriously. Taracut, especially, is always one inch too wide or too long, his physical body too big compared to Noci's too-small size, he is always too insatiable, too ready for another round... just too much, really, like a cartoon character with a permanent erection. Instead of finding this story as erotic as Ms Trent designed Icon to be, I find it pretty comical, as if I'm watching some kind of farce unfolding before me. That's not so bad if I hadn't bought this book expecting it to be something a little bit darker and more erotic.
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