by Bertrice Small, historical (2003)
Brava, $15.00, ISBN 1-57566-856-4

This is the last book in the Skye O'Malley saga. The world can breathe a collective sigh of relief now. Vixens is actually three novellas starring three underaged girls (none older than sixteen) of the latest generation of the O'Malley clan getting shagged up by much older men. Be careful, Ms Small. The FBI have arrested people for lesser crimes, unless of course if you're Michael Jackson, then you can sandwich with as many twelve-year old boys as you can find on your bed.

We have three girls, Frances "Fancy" Denvers and her cousins Diana "Siren" Leslie and Cynara "Sin" Stuart. Fancy meets her cousins when she is exiled from America when her husband died under scandalous circumstances. Her story is first: she comes to England, becomes King Charles II's mistress (she is sharing the King with an actress Nell who also becomes her best friend, and oh, her other cousin was also once Charles' mistress - cool), and once the sparks fade (read: she nears the grand old hag age of seventeen), the king asks her to marry a guy whom she then falls in love with in twenty or so pages. So much for her insistences that men are all untrustworthy buggers.

This lethally dull story is padded with so much backstory and explanations of the convoluted family geneology (your father slept with her mother after she slept with a sheikh whom she bore your cousin brother who slept with my sister who bore your niece who was the King's mistress who bore your nephew who is going to marry you today - um, is that legal?) and scenes best described as "endless medieval shopping sprees and royal tours around the gardens". I think I actually know more about Jasmine, the ever-present matriarch, than I ever know about Fancy.

As for Siren, she is courted by twins - a Duke and a Marquis. How nice that the Duke is the nice guy, although I'm sure he outranking his brother has nothing to do with it, oh no. She chooses the Duke. Her story could be only ten pages long if the author hasn't padded things up with more of the fluff she padded Fancy's story with.

Again, waste of time.

Cyn's story is the most focused, thank goodness. The tomboy challenges and dares her suitor Harry Summers in lots of sex games, and this one is reminiscent of those luscious body-rippers of old where the heroine and the hero just keep going at it on and on and on, damn plot, damn characterization, just bring on the pumpies! I would have enjoyed this no-nonsense sex-me-until-Sunday-and-then-some-more tale if the heroine isn't sixteen.

I mean, seriously, underaged heroines getting schooled by adult men is really not my thing. Maybe it's historically accurate, but then again, grown men smacking their wives 24/7 in those days are historically accurate too. You don't see me clamoring for those stories either. There is also a bizarre paradoxical attitude in Ms Small's stories: the villainess in the three stories, the rejected mistress Lady Castlemaine, is (literally) smacked in the face for daring to be angry when she is cast aside by the king even as this story celebrates Lolita Porn in all its glory. Why the dichotomy, Ms Small? Of course, Castlemaine did well for herself while she was Charles II's mistress, but there's no excuse how she is treated with contempt by every man in this story. The author celebrates underaged sexuality, but she at the same time has the men uttering that "a woman of twenty-five years of age is ancient".

I guess sex is only okay if you're a virginal temptress of all of sixteen begging to take it up everywhere. Not only am I bored by this book, I am also feeling rather nauseated. Maybe a long nice bubblebath is in order.

Rating: 48

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