The Warrior's Gift, by Bonnie Dee

>> Tuesday, May 29, 2007

TITLE: The Warrior's Gift (excerpt)
AUTHOR: Bonnie Dee

PAGES: some 42,000 words, which I'd say would be about 120/130 regular mass market paperback pages.

SETTING: Fantasy world
TYPE: Erotic romance

REASON FOR READING: Mrs. Giggles' review

In Katya's world, villagers sacrifice their daughters as sex slaves for a sect of warriors who keep their lands safe from invasion. When Katya herself is chosen as a "bride", although she's always questioned the arrangement, she submits for the sake of her family. She has no idea what to expect from the warriors, and not much more idea when it comes to sex.

Blessedly, her Warrior, Turan, turns out to be a sweet, gentle giant of a man, despite being raised in ignorance of anything but fighting and killing. He knows as little about sex as Katya herself, but his primal passions burn hot.

Together they learn the pleasures of the flesh...and incite a revolution that changes their world forever.
THE PLOT: An elite group of Warriors is all that stands between Geveldon and invasion by their neighbours, and so the population has become used to making some sacrifices to support them and the Guardians who train them. Not only do the villagers pay tithe, they also periodically give the most beautiful among their daughters to be the Brides of those Warriors who perform outstandingly in battles.

When Katya is chosen to be a Bride, she's not happy, as she's always been against the practise. She wants more out of life than to be a man's sexual plaything, and she doesn't think it's fair for men to be practically bred to be killers, either. Still, refusing would mean ostracism for her family, so she gives in, even if she's determined not to submit to the chosen Warrior easily.

But she didn't count on being given to Turan, a sweet, kind man in that scary Warrior's body. Meeting and falling for him really bring home the point that the Warriors are just as much the Guardians' slaves as the women chosen to be Brides, and so Katya becomes determined to overthrow the tyrannical Guardians, just as much for her sake as for Turan's.

MY THOUGHTS: This story had a very interesting concept behind it, and I enjoyed many things about it. Most of all, I liked the heroine. Katya is a very proactive, independent woman, determined to do what's right, even if she has to pull everyone (including Turan) along with her every step of the way.

And she does, which is another thing I found interesting. Turan is this huge scary warrior, but he's been conditioned all his life to obey the Guardians without a second thought, and it's not at all easy for him to overcome a lifetime's habits. It takes a lot of courage for him to change this, and it's thanks to Katya that he finds this courage. But, I also liked that there was already something in Turan that was yearning to get out and get more out of life, even before Katya entered his life.

Problem is, the whole story feels shallowly done. Everything seems too simple (not to say simplistic): the way they fall in love, the way Katya and Turan convince everyone to revolt (especially the way Turan convinces some of the other Warriors... he himself has trouble disobeying a Guardian's orders, even after meeting Katya, and we're supposed to believe he convinces other people like him to revolt only with a couple of whispered words?).

Plus, there were way too many sex scenes. The first ones were great, and I read them word by word. Turan is even more sexually innocent than Katya, because he's seldom seen a woman in his entire life, and seeing these two discovering each other and what they can do together is lovely. So ok, I was just fine with those first scenes. But after that, we get quite a few love scenes that are just two people having sex... no development at all of the feelings involved, just sex, and that got boring. I know this is supposed to be erotic romance, but I still say that if a sex scene can be removed from a book and nothing is lost of plot and/or character development, then it should be removed.

MY GRADE: I'm going to give this a B-, because I so liked the bare bones of the story.


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