Ellora’s Cave, $5.99, ISBN 978-1419913242
Fantasy Erotica, 2007
Ellora’s Cave is no longer around to spread the propaganda that you cannot be a ho in an erotic romance, and my online search suggests that Bronwyn Green’s Ronan’s Grail is also lost to time. No, I have no clue as to whether this story exists under another title or if yes, whether that current edition is changed in any way. I paid money for the 2007 edition, so that is the one I am reviewing right now.
The Ronan in the title is the “bastard son of Lancelot”, so yes, we are knee-deep in that Merlin, King Arthur, et cetera stuff. The grail in the title is, in fact, the Holy Grail, and Ronan is sworn to locate it. If you’re wondering whether there is any drama about Ronan helping King Arthur to fight off the enemies in a war partially catalyzed by his daddy knocking knees with Arthur’s wife without asking Arthur first whether he’d like to have a threesome, well, the author has everyone calling Guinevere a ho that will take any pee-pee that is aimed at her direction. Yes, this is an erotic romance and we are still shaming women that like to take it every way and all the way. What a sexually liberated genre.
Anyway, Merlin sends Ronan through a portal straight to the modern time, making me immediately recall the music video of REO Speedwagon’s One Lonely Night and great, that song is now stuck in my head and it just won’t leave. Alas, Ronan isn’t a clumsy klutz in need of spectacles of anything like that. He’s on a quest to “fill the chalice”, and I am already cringing in advance because I have a sinking feeling then that the author is going to make Morgan, our heroine, the chalice in question.
Morgan Foster is a “low-ranking professor” that specializes in theater—in other words, the world won’t be deprived of her useful insight or contribution if she happened to go back in time or whatever with the hero. She sees Ronan show up in armor, and assumes that he’s some actor, and because he’s so hot, she practically puts out the moment she sees his pee-pee bulging forth like a protoplasmic protrusion of the monster in The Thing reaching for her. Then she shows him the magic of the present as he shows her the magic of his tumescence, and then he goes back in time to kill Mordred, leaving Morgan pregnant. Guinevere may be called a ho in this story, but something tells me she won’t be dumb enough to get knocked up by a man that she knows is likely not going to be a permanent fixture in her life.
Despite the amount of cringe in the premise and the narration, Ronan’s Grail is surprisingly enjoyable in a campy way. Sure, there isn’t much of a proper plot development here—I’d argue that the author should have stuck to either a fish out of water story free from much external drama or a story that plays down the fish out of water elements for the external drama. This isn’t a particularly long story, so trying to be both a fish out of a water story and a story about a knight’s conflict with the big bad ends up causing both plot elements being on the underdeveloped side. Still, the two main characters are quite likable and have some decent chemistry to make the romance believable in a way, so the romantic aspects of the story are enjoyable. I should point out though, that some readers may find Ronan having a medieval man’s perceptions of a woman’s role in life to be offensive, although they may realize that he actually thaws and mellows quite a lot as the story progresses if they had stuck around instead of immediately rushing off to Twitter for their daily calls for
This is an interesting story, all things considered. On paper, the author seems to be doing everything to ensure that the story becomes cringe incarnate, and yet, Ronan’s Grail turns out to be a light, sexy, and unexpectedly enjoyable read—so long as one doesn’t expect an epic plot thread or anything of that sort, that is. Keep expectations low for best effect.