“Lovers and Beloveds” – by MeiLin Miranda

Cover ImageTemmin is the heir to the throne of Tremont, about to turn 18 and enter into manhood, and is still a virgin. That last detail might not seem so important – just a small item which might lead to an entertaining coming-of-age dalliance in an otherwise straightforward fantasy novel filled with kings and queens, intrigue and violence. However, in Lovers and Beloveds, Temmin’s virginity is key to the story.

Welcome to Tremont, a kingdom with nobility (the haves) and peasants (the have-nots) and a full compliment of gods and goddesses – including Nerr and Neya, the Lovers. And this is where our hero comes in. After meeting Allis, the “Embodiment” of Neya, Temmin is quite obviously besotted and sets upon a path to become a supplicant at the Lovers’ temple. Actually, that pretty much wraps up the plot of this story. However, what I’m not doing justice to is the work the author has done to create an interesting society where sexuality is largely embraced and even worshipped in all its forms.

So let’s discuss the sexuality in Lovers and Beloveds. It’s unavoidable in this case as the majority of the text either deals with sex scenes, discussing sex or thinking about sex. Firstly, only those “of age” need apply to read this book. Secondly, if you don’t like explicit sex scenes, you will not like this book. Thirdly, if you are fairly narrow in your interpretation of what acceptable sexuality should be in literature, you will not like this book. However, if you like explicit sex scenes between men and women, and men and men, and women and women, trios, groups and even displays of public sex on religious holidays, there might be something in this book for you. Let me rephrase that – buy this book, you’ll probably love it.

I’m not personally motivated to read a book with a “by the numbers” exploration of every facet of sexuality imaginable (which I have to say this book felt a little like at times). So it was going to be difficult for this story to make a lasting favourable impression on me. So was there anything here I liked? Luckily, there  was.

I actually liked the way sexuality was integrated into the society and religion of Tremont. Even if the cynic in me thinks of it as a convenient device to legitimise a sextravaganza, I have to admit that it was very clever all the same. It even had me imagining what my own society might be like if sexuality was embraced in the same way. Additionally, I quite liked the characters in the book. Temmin himself was quite dim in many ways, but remained lovable throughout. It was hard to think  ill of him learning about his future responsibilities as king while also trying to learn about himself and what kind of man he wanted to be. He’s also surrounded by some interesting characters: the enigmatic Teacher, the loyal Jenks, even his obstructive father, Harsin. They all added colour and flavour to the story.

Some of the problems I had with the novel included the teaching of Temmin via a magical storybook. Through this device, We follow the narration of a piece of early Tremontine history. I think this magical book is going to be an undercurrent for the series, but I’m not entirely sure how the story of a woman cursed with the unyielding desire to have sex with any man who wants her forms any part of an education for Temmin. To me, the book merely fulfils the author’s need to tell a saucy tale within a saucy tale. Less problematic was the fact that there are some mysteries that don’t get revealed by the end of the first book. Why is it important for Temmin not to know that Jenks is actually Colonel Jenks – will he ever find out? What is the real story behind the Teacher and the Traveler Queen? And are we going to get more intrigue and story in the next volume, or are we going to spend the whole book trapped inside Temmin’s sexual awakening?

Unfortunately for me, although I’d love to know the answer to some of those questions as there really are some intriguing elements to Lovers and Beloveds, I just don’t think I have the stamina for another multi-sexual Karma Sutra. I applaud the work that has gone into it and I know the sophistication of its telling will find an appreciative audience. If you feel like you could be the target audience, there really is no need to wait.

Rating: 3/5

Price at the time of review: $4.95 US

Available: Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Diesel

Author site: http://www.meilinmiranda.com/
GoodReads page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9555442-lovers-and-beloveds

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