*For mature readers
In the land of Tremont, the saying “When Nerr (the male god of love and sexuality) gets the Heir” means something is highly unlikely to happen. Nevertheless, when current heir to the throne Temmin is summoned to the capital on his 18th birthday for training to become king, he is instantly drawn the current Embodiment of Neya, the female half of the gods of love and sexuality, and no other woman can compare. The gods have complex rules, though, and Temmin’s lack of sexual experience prevents him from simply making an appointment at the Lovers’ Temple. His only option is becoming a Supplicant, an official training position in the Temple lasting two years and two days, and accepting both Embodiments of the twin gods as his teachers; however, King Harsin, Temmin’s father, fears a prophecy that states the common people will benefit when the Heir devotes himself to the lovers, and he will do almost anything to stop his only son from bringing it to pass.
Lovers and Beloveds: An Intimate History of The Greater Kingdom is a fantasy novel, but it is definitely for mature readers who can handle detailed scenes of sexuality of all types. At the same time, author MeiLin Miranda creates a rich world and culture as a backdrop for the other events in the story. The sexuality plays an important role in Temmin’s journey to adulthood and is not simply added arbitrarily for titillation.
What I Liked:
• I genuinely found Temmin a spoiled and childishly selfish at the beginning of the novel; however, Miranda’s storyline shows him beginning to mature and grow into a gentle, kind young man. By the end of the book, I rather liked him.
• The descriptions are amazing! I could easily picture the various balls and religious festivals due to the detailed prose. At the same time, nothing is overwrought; it is just enough to create a strong visual picture.
• The women in Lovers and Beloveds are all powerful, well-developed characters. MeiLin Miranda includes a huge cast of women including Temmin’s mothers, sisters, religious figures, and servants. Each of them has a defined personality and interests and exists for more than providing support for Temmin. I especially want to read more about his eldest sister Sedra, who would be better suited for the role of Heir if women were allowed to rule.
• The emphasis on the importance of consent in a sexual relationship is sadly apropos given all of the recent cases of rape and abuse of power in sexual situations. One of Temmin’s most important lessons is learning exactly what consent entails and how “yes” may not always be “yes” depending on the difference is social position.
• Temmin’s ultimate decision made me proud. It was the final proof that he had grown up since the beginning of the book.
What I Disliked or Just Didn’t Work for Me:
• The beginning was a little slow for me, and the first sex scene in the opening pages surprised me, because it was unexpected; however, on my second read of the book, I enjoyed it much more.
• Lovers and Beloveds is a frame narrative, and while I saw the use of the secondary storyline in Temmin’s growth and understanding, it was sometimes a little jarring to be taken away from the main plot of his pursuing Allis and Issak Obby, the Embodiments of Neya and Nerr; however, Emmae and Warin’s story still warmed my heart, and the ending truly made me smile. It also sets the stage for a lot of the political intrigue that becomes important in later books.
• There was a hint at political intrigue in Lovers and Beloveds that wasn’t realized enough for me. It pulled me out of the main storyline, and I didn’t get payoff; however, this is the first book in a series, so I anticipate that rather than being a red herring the touch of politics will develop in later books.
I highly recommend Lovers and Beloveds to anyone who enjoys a touch of the erotic tied up in a well-plotted story. Immerse yourself in this world that is a blend of Ancient Greece, Medieval Europe, and a heady dose of fantasy!
Information about MeiLin Miranda and her works is available at www.meilinmiranda.com. Lovers and Beloveds is also for sale on Amazon.
4 Neya’s Day Sister Gifts out of 5