Lovers and Beloveds: An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom by MeiLin Miranda (2010)
Naive and sheltered Prince Temmin, Heir of Tremont, is newly arrived from his peaceful childhood home to his father King Harsin’s intrigue-filled court in the City. He quickly finds himself the target of assassins sent by enemies he didn’t even know he had, confronted with his past mistakes by his family’s immortal advisor Teacher, and falling for the beautiful twins Allis and Issak.
But the twins are holy figures, the embodiments on earth of the Gods known as the Lovers. To be with the twins, Temmin must serve in the Lovers’ Temple for two years, the fulfillment of a prophecy so old it’s moved into folklore. Harsin believes its fulfillment will mean the end of the monarchy, and does everything he can to stop it.
Haunted by stories of his ancestors found in a magic book, Temmin must choose a path: one will lead to ultimate glory for Tremont, one will lead to its end, but no one knows which path is which.
“If the women were so important, why aren’t they in the histories?”
If George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series captures the gritty realism of medieval history, Lovers and Beloveds reveals the intimate and personal dynamics of power in aristocracies. It weaves together a rich multi-layered story that explores how sex and power shape history and individual destiny—sharing a perspective that’s beyond the “men, swords, and thrones” (capital H) history that’s often seen in fantasy.
It follows Temmin coming of age as he gains a fuller understanding of the responsibilities that he holds with his privilege. He learns about intimacy and dominance from court servants, religious figures, and an ancestor’s curse. What is coercion, trust, and consent? How would he rule differently from previous rulers?
The prose is lush and beautiful, which perfectly reflects the aristocratic steampunk world that Temmin lives in. The setting is fascinating and could be described as a fusion of Victorian England with Classical Greece. The narrative draws you in quickly and immerses you in life in the royal court. The characters of various classes are fleshed out with interactions that are full of wit and colour. Since sex is an important theme in the work, it’s heavy on the erotica, but it’s woven well into the plot and setting that none of it feels excessive. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have plenty of fetish fuel to go around.
Since most of the conflict revolves around Temmin’s personal development, it does follow a spoiled royal heir for over 400 pages, which understandably may not be for everyone. But I found him to be so well characterized and endearing that none of that mattered to me. I find it refreshing to see characters that are such a clear product of their upbringing and personal history. Regarding the world-building, there are some words mentioned that’s only explained in a glossary, but it’s a minor nitpick that wouldn’t affect your enjoyment of this book.
This is an intelligent, insightful, and beautiful fantasy novel. I highly recommend Lovers and Beloveds. The term “fantasy erotica” can’t describe the depth of this work. Even if you don’t think this subgenre is for you, I urge you to read the sample anyway and see if it draws you in. I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
You might like this if you like…
Jacqueline Carey, court intrigue, “story in a story” narrative structures, plenty of fetish fuel goodness
If you grabbed the book from the free giveaway and liked the book, please consider giving a Paypal donation to the author.
Lovers and Beloveds was a crowdfunded project. Based on a draft posted in installments on the web, fans bought $2500 worth of pre-sale packages so the author could hire a professional editor, typographer and cover artist. In return, those fans wanted only the story received the advance manuscript, an ebook, and an autographed paperback with their name in the acknowledgments. Well, that explains the awesome Art Nouveau cover and the perfectly polished nature of the book. I’d be ecstatic if the $13.99 ebooks I bought from big publishers were as properly edited and formatted as this. Hats off to the indies!
Posted on May 19, 2011, in 4 stars, Ebook Reviews, Fantasy, fantasy fetish fuel, Frida Reviewed, Jacqueline Carey, Lovers and Beloveds, MeiLin Miranda, Steampunk and tagged court intrigue, estrogen brigade bait, scenery porn, three way sex, virgin power. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.