by Eden Bradley, futuristic (2010)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 978-1-60928-034-5
In 2012, the world died to the last few refrains of Adam Lambert's screeching, leaving behind braw men to fight over the few surviving women left in the world. Women are neatly labeled as Whores, Breeders, and Priestesses. The leftovers that perplex menfolk too much are dumped into the Wanderer category. Anyway, as you can guess, this short story features a Breeder.
Nitara is a beautiful woman trained by the Temple of the Great Goddess to become a Breeder. She is, naturally, not to be confused with the bloodsucking succubus-like creature in those Mortal Kombat games. In the Temple, every Breeder undergoes a ritual called the Sacrifice upon reaching the age of 20, when they surrender their virginity to some drugged-out bloke from the pariah caste in what seems like a tribute to our present day prom night rituals, although this particular ritual ends with the death of the bloke, stabbed to death by the Breeder. As you can probably predict, Nitara will fall in love with her designated victim, a warrior named Akaash. Oops!
The premise is ridiculous and cheesy, a throwback to the paranormal romances back in the 1990s when segregation of the sexes due to some large-scale disaster or something is a popular trope. But still, I'm surprised by how the interactions between Nitara and Akaash actually manage to resonate with me. There is some romanticism and tenderness in that relationship despite the fact that it develops over a short period of time.
And then the author ruins everything by bringing in Akaash's bonded male lover and have Nitara playing the happy piñata for the two of them. Why would Ms Bradley bring in a third party after an intimate bond has formed between Nitara and Akaash, I will never know. Sigh.
For what it's worth, The Breeder is a pretty good read. The descriptions of the rituals of the Breeders are often darkly erotic instead of cheesy, and the romance has its moments of genuine poignancy. It's too bad that the author introduces a third person into the relationship abruptly and ruins any intimacy she has set up between those characters.
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