Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Queen's Consorts by Kele Moon

Title:   The Queen’s Consorts
Author:   Kele Moon
Publisher listing:   Loose Id
Cover Artist:  Scott Carpenter
Genre:  Fantasy, Menage
Length:  95,200 words (long novel)
Formats:  epub, mobi, pdf, prc, html

Blurb: The Queen’s Consorts. Just laying eyes on one is a death sentence. So when Sari, who spent most of her life on the streets, ends up entangled in a steamy relationship with the two most forbidden men on the planet, she knows it can’t end well.

After a brutal attack, Sari’s taken to the Sacred City, exposing her to the secret lives of the Rayians who rule in the long lost queen’s absence. It’s in this darkly sexual world where she first meets the legendary consorts.

Too handsome and talented for their own good, Calder and Taryen have learned to trust only each other in order to survive. Bred to be feared warriors and exclusive companions to a queen, instead they’re slaves to other Rayians desires for them.

Their brutal lives make the two consorts hesitant to care for Sari when she’s unexpectedly dumped in their laps, but they soon discover she’s different from the cruel women they’re used to serving. Drawn to Sari on a soul deep level, Calder and Taryen can’t seem to stop themselves from going back for one more taste of the beautiful outsider… even when it puts the fate of the entire world in jeopardy.

Review:

In retrospect, I should have turned this one down. I’m probably not the target market, because I grew up reading science fiction and fantasy, and therefore have some expectations about world building, like consistency combined with cause and effect.


If I were reading only for the sexxors, I probably would have been happy. Sari, Taryen, and Calder are hot, and if one can dissect out the background, they do well together, moving from attraction with “oh no mustn’t touch” to “oh no but have to touch” to “touchy touchy touch” in what is a nicely paced and rather hot progression. In place it’s m/m, m/f, or m/m/f, elsewhere the action is m/f/m, and no one’s left to be the clap and cheer section. Sex scenes are occasionally marred by stilted dialog.

HOWEVER.

The world building is essential to the story, and it’s lacking.

This is a world that by definition has gone through the kind of cataclysm that should have brought governments crashing, economies crashing, populations crashing, and generally become post-apocalytic. The weather went through an abrupt and apparently irreversible change in such a way as to ruin agriculture and keep it ruined, but hey, everything’s in greenhouses  under lights, no big. It’s nice, orderly, and enough to support the entire population of the world and still have endless acres for flowers. The sun hasn’t been seen in close to 20 years, but only the street urchins seem to be starving and the elite sport tans.

The ruling class, the Rayians, can be identified at a glance, women are outnumbered three to one by men and are considered divine apparently just because they’re scarce, but an elite female can be kept as a sex slave without comment. Not only that but she’s still virgin, even though she’s been the chief instructor for “how men should pleasure women” classes. At apparently age fifteen. Or maybe younger. It's very handwavy.

An elite class woman can appear out of the blue without introductions and antecedents, and be totally accepted, at least at on the surface. Sorry, that didn’t work in the Regency era, and it doesn’t convince me here. This is a small enough group that everyone would know everyone, or know their people, but Sari’s included in the very top levels without a blink. There’s only one obvious candidate of this age bracket, and no one aside from She Who Knows even thinks of it, and she seems to be insane.

Most of them seem to be insane, actually, resulting in an entire flock of the sort of Evil Harpy #2 characters generally reviled in m/m. Their entire thought process seems to be “let’s torture two of the three people who could really, really, get even with us if our grip ever slips.”  Otherwise, not a hint of nuance, and no one actually seems to be running things.  

Everyone finally does get laid, wrongs are righted, political structures remade, the sun finally comes out, yay. There’s a reason the old queen traveled around the realm, but Sari’s fine with sitting in one place licking her wounds for more than half a year while the problems of her people and her country *that she could be fixing* are allowed to persist. She’s traveled the world undetected (!) in her earlier days, seeing the troubles first hand, so she has no excuse for delay. Even Sari describes herself as useless during this period, and she's right. Her consorts have been ruined with their sycophancy training: neither Taryen nor Calder kick her butt into action.

In the name of genre I’m willing to accept some of the more fantastical elements, such as facility of languages, elemental connections, and even, I choke to say it, the soul-mate issue. However, in exchange, I want the ordinary parts of the story to make sense, and plot points that are made to seem important to actually be important. The true heart issue is one that felt tacked on - apparently one needs to be a genetic weirdo to be a kind person on this planet.  Many issues I’ve mentioned and several I have not have been tossed at the story without their ramifications being considered, and I am not one of the readers who will shrug at their mismanagement because the sex is hot.

I actually set this book aside at the 25% mark for several months and would not have finished it except for the sense of obligation.  Read it for the sex and the relationship, and gloss past everything else if you value the fantasy genre without the sex. 2 marbles.

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