Philtata Press, $3.99
Historical Erotica, 2015
Lily Reynard’s Bride of the Barbarian Princes is a collection of three shorter stories published earlier: Taken by the Barbarian Princes, Claimed by the Barbarian Princes, and Loved by the Barbarian Princes. Yes, people, we have one heroine who gets to be the lucky bride of two “barbarian” brothers. In this case, the barbie brothers are actually royalty, so don’t worry people, there are no odious poor men in this one.
Our heroine Aelia Marcella and her mother live on the mercy of her uncle after the death of her father, and the man is determined to marry Aelia off to an odious scum Gaius Petronius Turpilianus in order to further his standing with the emperor. However, Aelia detests him – that man tries to rape her maid in front of everyone, how vulgar – and isn’t too sad when Ateas, the prince of Skatha and a member of General Vespasian, show up with his men to interrupt the wedding preparations. You see, the city has fallen, and now, enemy troops are on the way to come pillage and plunder as well as rape.
Ateas and his brother Palakus like what they see in Aelia. In fact, they’d like her to marry one of them, although it’s pretty clear that they both expect to go on the honeymoon with her. A bargain was struck: she’d go with them if they will escort her family safely to their kin at the next city. Her husband-to-be is like hell no, but who cares what he thinks when she now has two big, strong men to paw and protect her. Oh, and these two men are gentlemen: they keep her father’s books safe and they’d like her full consent before they teach her how to multitask on two men, preferably after one of them has made her his wife. Aren’t they sweet?
And… that’s my issue with this whole collection. The guys are sweet. The synopsis and packaging all led me to believe that this is a naughty story. After all, one guy is already a handful for a heroine, if we are going to put another guy into the picture, it’d better be because there are going to be double the number and explicitness of sex scenes. But no, nothing really naughty happens until Claimed by the Barbarian Princes, and even then, to the very last page the raunchy goodness factor isn’t even close to being explicit enough to raise the room temperature even a little. I was initially hoping for some guilty pleasure kind of fun, with alpha men going all “Me boss, you our woman!” to the heroine, but I get instead two very nice guys who announce early on that their mother raised them right and so, they don’t boss women around, much less rape them. They even pause in the middle of getting frisky to ask Marcella to marry them!
The inevitable double motor-boating takes place only in the third installment, and even then… well, let’s just say things could have been a bit more detailed, hotter perhaps.
Bride of the Barbarian Princes is not going to be mistaken for an old school Bertrice Small-ish or Virginia Henley-ish read, alas. Even then, when I look for other reasons to enjoy this one, I find myself befuddled by the sanitized and politically correct portrayal of the two guys; they come off more like modern day guys than marauding soldiers of the first century. It depends in the end on what the reader is looking for, I guess. Me, I just don’t see the point of having two guys – barbarian guys at that – in a story if they weren’t going to behave like barbarians or use what is between their legs more often.