Ellora’s Cave, $11.49, ISBN 1-419952-72-2
Fantasy Erotica, 2005
With all the bad press about Ellora’s Cave as of the time of writing, it seems like some kind of cosmic twist that I stumbled upon Lorie O’Clare’s Lotus Blooming, which is part of the Fallen Gods series, in a discount bookstore. I’m reading the print version of this book, and a quick search suggests that the dead tree version is the only format available these days. That’s not surprising, given that this title was released some eight years ago.
Is Lotus Blooming a deliberately naughty title? Well, Lotus is our heroine Thena Cooke’s middle name, so, technically, there is nothing naughty about it. Still, this story is published by Ellora’s Cave, so there’s that. Although, by today’s standards, Lotus Blooming seems pretty mild. During its time, though, it’d probably rank a solid high on the scorch meter because this book came out in a time when genteel readers were still recovering from women riding on top, touching themselves, using naughty words, and more. We have come a long way since then.
Fortunately, there is still a story here to make up for the fact that the sex scenes don’t stand up to the heat level of today. Thena is a witch who would love nothing more than to start her own life away from her family, a normal life where she doesn’t have to worry about being different. She is different, however, and every time when it seems like she’s getting somewhere, she ends up back at square one because people just seem to sense that there is something strange about her, and she is also often too kind for her own good, using her magic to help out a friend now and then. When the story opens, she’s fired from her job. Her boss fears and hates her, and uses a technicality in the employment contract to brand Thena’s recent assistance of a colleague as an act of insubordination to force her to leave.
When Thena receives a summon from her mother to go back to her hometown in what seems like a vague cry for help, she decides to pack up and see what is happening in the lovely town of Barren. Tagging along is Priapus, once a god of fertility turned bored and jaded woo-woo guy who is drawn to Thena due to the ever convenient plot device of special kind. Good thing that Priapus and his godly buddies are all about busting demons, because Barren is currently the hot spot for demons to party and go wild.
A warning to genteel readers out there: some of the more raunchy scenes here take place despite dubious consent on Thena’s part. In a way, it quite makes sense, as Priapus, after all, is a god of sex and fertility who is used to having his pick of women. In many ways, he does like and respect Thena, it’s just that it doesn’t occur to him that maybe just reaching out and grabbing what he wants may not be the thing to do. I have no problems with such scenes, but some readers may feel otherwise, so be warned.
Lotus Blooming is a clean and easy read. The narrative is fine, the heroine is capable and strong-willed, and the hero has his charming cocksure moments. I like them working together, although I don’t buy the romance. I mean, the author doesn’t succeed in convincing me that Thena is so special that she can capture a sex god’s undying devotion. Still, the story is fun enough that I am willing to go along with everything.
I do wish the author has reduced the size of Priapus’s wee-wee, though. Yes, I know, I’ve seen those statues, but because I’m not a size queen, I don’t squeal in delight when I read about how “the thing seemed to stretch over the length of her body”. I don’t care how hot he is, if he swings a thing that size at me, I’m grabbing a chainsaw.
The biggest problem with Lotus Blooming – aside from the exaggerated dimension of the hero’s willie – is the very sparse world building. Demons are just demons, and they remain some one-dimensional evil entities that exist to let our main characters do something else in between boinking. The whole thing has more of an amateurish fanfiction quality than anything else.
I won’t recommend anyone going of his or her way to read this one, but it’s nonetheless a painless and fluffy read that won’t hurt if there is nothing else to read. Still, this book may be worth holding on to. Maybe some day it’d fetch a marvelous price as some kind of antique from a bygone era.