My relationship with erotica novels is only slightly better than my relationship with new adult novels. But, as I keep telling the people who ask me why I bother, sometimes you find a book that proves to be the exception to the rule, who makes it all worthwhile. Not only have I found that with SLAVE GIRL, I think I also may have found a new favorite author. Have you seen her backlist? OH MY GOD. I WANT ALL HER HISTORICAL ROMANCES RIGHT MEOW. ...please? *kitty eyes*
...*hyperventilates into a paper bag*
I applied for SLAVE GIRL on Netgalley because it is an erotica novella that takes place in Ancient Rome. Also it sounded kinky as hell.
Nimia was taken as a war prize during one of the Roman battles with the visigoth. She comes from a tribe called the Phanne and has tattoos all over her breasts and legs. (Something the cover fails to depict. Boooo.) Her owner, a creepmaster named Sygarius, has been giving her "lessons" while keeping her virginity intact the whole time. Because part of the fun is waiting. Apparently, it's almost as delicious as foreplay.
The time for Nimia's deflowering is drawing closer, and then a bunch of Franks her master has dealings with come, and one of them is a sexy young prince, which, if you know anything, you will know is never a good sign. And the prince wants Nimia, too--especially since he can't have her. Nimia is attracted to him, too, and better yet, he seems to know what happened to her people.
I liked SLAVE GIRL. It's cheesy, okay, yes, but original and creative. I enjoyed the writing, which flowed very nicely and conjured up some very evocative (and provocative) imagery. I enjoyed the taboo and kinky sex, especially the play of Dionysus-Bacchus. That was weird as fuck, but also pretty hot. Actually, all the sex was hot. And the plot! OMG. I read this in a single sitting, which was bad, because I was supposed to go to bed and ended up staying up until 3 A.M.
My only qualm, which keeps this from being a 5 star review instead, is that it is too damn short. Apparently it's book one in a trilogy, and oh my god, I volunteer as tribute. GIMMIE ALL THEM.
Also, I need to find paperback copies of her retro historical romances because they all sound awesome and original too, including a tale about a Cornish woman who pretends to be a mermaid in order to protect her town. ;~;
Truly, this is a most happy and auspicious day for Nenia Campbell, Hater of Erotica Novels.
This book is so YA that it almost hurts...although it does touch upon some subjects that most YA are loathe to touch. Things like homosexuality, the Patriarchy, and infanticide.
I had just seen the movie Pompeii when this book came out, and I was giving it the side-eye, wondering which came first. The release date was too close to be coincidental. Did the author hear about the movie and then speedily write a historical fiction novel that was very similar to the movie in the hopes that it would sell?
BecausePompeii and CURSES AND SMOKE are very, very similar. It's the same rich-daughter-of-a-citizen-pledged-to-marry-a-much-older-man-who-falls-in-love-with-a-slave-boy-who's-also-a-gladiator plot. Except that in this case, the rich daughter of a Citizen (Lucia) wants to be a Scientist and the slave boy (Tages) only practices with the gladiators--he's actually a medicus.
CURSES AND SMOKE is pretty well-researched, and lots of detail is paid to clothing, food, and medicine. I really enjoyed these passages (ew, though. Sow udders for dinner? Mashed sheep brains?) because I like learning something when I read a book. There's a weird focus on curses, though; weird, because it doesn't really amount to much. If you're going to have a paranormal element in your fiction, you should follow up on it, yeah? Otherwise, it just doesn't really go anywhere.
The love story is pretty painful. Lucia's greedy father is losing money on his gladiators so he's forcing her to marry a man who's forty years older because he's promised to pour money into Lucia's father's gladiatorial school. Lucia is in love with Tages, though, and proceeds to demonstrate this love by increasingly insensitive remarks about the differences between their stations.
Lucia's friend Cornelia gets the idea to hook Lucia up with Quintus instead, son of a rich family. Quintus's father is punishing him for his being a whorer and a wastrel by sending him to a gladiatorial school, and he is living with Lucia and her father as their guest. But Quintus isn't really interested in Lucia--he's far more interested in...Tages. DUN DUN DUN.
Honestly, the more I learned about the characters, the less I liked them. Lucia was spoiled, insensitive. Her "I wanna be a Scientist!" attitude seemed forced and not all that convincing, and I felt like it was introduced just so she could be the unheeded harbinger of doom about Pompeii's impending explosion. (Oh yeah, she predicts that Something Is Wrong. And nobody listens to her because she's a woman.) Why does that sound familiar?Dante's Peak is awesome, by the way, and you should watch it, if only because it's got sexy Pierce Brosnan in it. Yum yum.
Tages was only okay. I felt meh about him. He didn't really have much personality, and the numerous references to his "young Apollo" good looks just made me roll my eyes, since it was such an obvious appeal to the teen girl (or teen boy) audience.
Quintus was probably my favorite character because he was the most complex. Once I found out that he was in love with Tages, a lot of his actions made sense. Yeah, he was an asshole, but aren't we all assholes in love (if we're male and in modern YA fiction)? Lucia's father could go to hell, though. When I learned his secret, I was just like, MENTALLY DONE.
For the last fifty pages of the book, I just skipped. CURSES AND SMOKE actually made the explosion of Pompeii--one of the most famous and grievous natural disasters in history--seem anticlimactic. I did start to wonder about the ending, though. Would Shecter take the Pompeii route? The Titanic route? Or the Stephenie Meyer route? Would one, none, or all of the characters live?
A lot of people didn't like the ending, but I took a certain amount of schadenfreude from it. By that point, I was pretty much done with the story. Also, I'd just read another book about Ancient Rome, by Lisa Cach, and its porny, orgiastic debauchery was beyond compare. I had hoped that they might compliment each other, and instead one totally overshadowed the other.
I've been on an ancient-history kick lately, and nobody writes the good stuff like the bodice ripper authors of old. Lance Horner is one of the co-writers on the later books in the Falconhurst series (MANDINGO is #1), & I was excited to see he wrote on Rome.
Cleon lives with his mom and step-dad on a farm. One day, two passing Romans see him and are drawn to his blonde gook looks. They purchase him from his father so they can take him to Rome as a mime. He meets and falls in love with one of his fellow actors, a pretty young girl named Ariadne. With her, he acts out the rape of Leda, which climaxes with him ejaculating all over the stage. (Ew.)
One day, though, while visiting one of the female patrons at her villa, they get attacked by pirates. Ariadne gets raped and killed, and Cleon, his friends, the Nubian, Jano, and the ex-male-prostitute, Mamax, all get kidnapped and send to the Colosseum to become gladiators.
Cleon's good looks save him once more when he catches the eye of Agrippa, the mother of Nero. She reminds him of her childhood lover, and thinks he could be of use to her as well since he is the emperor's double, and she wants to kill him. Agrippa is one scheming bitch; she forces Cleon to kill his opponent because she wants him to have sex with her with blood on his hands.
Oh, and Horner spares no expense on the gore. Women get raped by donkeys; faces and limbs get ripped off; people get raped and then murdered; eyes get gouged out; there are graphic descriptions of torture; and Nero, as it seems, is especially imaginative when it comes to cruelty (although in terms of outright sadism, I'm pretty sure Caligula remains unmatched). With these murder plots and mistaken identity plots in place, we also meet Nero's virgin wife, Octavia, and the Vestal virgin--and Agrippa's co-conspirator--Julia. Let me tell you, it gets pretty crazy.
The cover might lead you to believe that this is a nonstop smutfest. While there is a buttload of inappropriate and creative debauchery, the plot is also quite good and the book seems quite well-researched. I never really knew what was going to happen, only that it was going to be a crazy rollercoaster ride of wtfuckery. Cleon is like a male version of Marietta Danvers, from LOVE'S TENDER FURY. His female lovers are all crazy, making up a psychotic madam of a whorehouse, two empresses, an actress, a kindly prostitute, and so much more. And yet, like the Energizer Bunny, he keeps on going and going and going...this is a boy who is ADDICTED to sex.
I enjoyed ROGUE ROMAN. It's a crazy book but quite well-written for a bodice-ripper. There were a lot of scenes that had me cringing but if you have a strong stomach and an open mind (or even enjoy the shock value, you sick fuck), you'll probably enjoy this book, too. I'll definitely be checking out more from this author. Just as soon as I can get my hands on MANDINGO.
definitely a prime candidate for the most violent of shakespeare's plays, titus andronicus revolves around the theme of revenge--except in this world,definitely a prime candidate for the most violent of shakespeare's plays, titus andronicus revolves around the theme of revenge--except in this world, revenge is anything BUT sweet. like the montagues and the capulets, titus and tamora's families really have it in for each other. but unlike romeo and juliet, there is no romance. instead there's rape and cold-blooded murder and sacrifice and carnage and torture; it's no small wonder why the victorians hated this play so much.
i personally found it quite interesting, once i could get over the blatant display of misogyny. the most sinister part of the play is when demetrius and chiron allude to their sinister plans for lavinia through the metaphor of a hunt; and how with neither horses nor hounds, they plan to strike the "dainty doe" (read: lavinia) to the ground and rape her....more