Lisa Cach last released a book with a traditional publisher, and Slave Girl marks the first novella in an erotic trilogy set at the end of the Roman Empire. I'll admit that this was an instance where the author's name is what persuaded me to give this one a go as the plot description didn't exactly light my world on fire. In the end, I'm glad I read this - if only because it is filled with great promise of things to come.
Nimia is a slave of King Sygarius. She was taken as a child when he raided her tribal village and so taken with her lush beauty, he has schooled her in the sensual arts. Basically what that entails is Sygarius doing years of endless teasing, working Nimia up into a frenzy until finally, ripe and ready as an adult, he will deflower her. Needless to say, Nimia is just about ready to have a go at it, and the endless teasing, the endless schooling in carnal delights, most of which are done through voyeurism, means Nimia is one frustrated girl. Then one of Sygarius' allies rides into town. A group of barbarians. That king's son, Clovis, has completely twisted Nimia inside out - to the point where she foolishly gives away the one thing meant for Sygarius. The one thing that will surely get her killed. Her virginity.
I've been reading erotic romance for a long time, even before it really existed and I sated my own desire by reading "romantic" erotica. So I feel fairly confident in saying that Slave Girl read Old School for me. The style, the voice, the choice of language and words that Cach used to tell her story. It's not the purplest of purple prose I've ever read (hardly), but I wouldn't say it's as frank as some of the language employed by newcomers to the sub genre. I also think that the time period, setting, and plot of the story has a lot to do with this Old School vibe. It's not a harem story, per se, but it's pretty close to it.
As a romance, this story alone isn't going to cut it. The author is setting her stage, plus the added duplicitous nature of all the characters (yes, we have politics!) certainly doesn't instill a lot of trust in the reader for any of them. It's a soap opera, with more sex and a few light paranormal elements thrown in for added flavor. Which makes this a hard story to judge on it's own. Really it's sole purpose is to whet the reader's appetite to keep going, to continue on with the serial. And this story did leave me with that, mostly because of the promise that Nimia gives to the reader.
This is a heroine who is a slave. Who has no control of her own person. She's not allowed to have free will. But over the course of this story you see her yearning for it, plotting for it, thinking that maybe Clovis is her ticket to finding her people. Maybe she can escape. Maybe her life can be more than being some king's sexual plaything. Where I hope this trilogy will eventually lead is to a heroine who takes control over her own life. A heroine who takes control over her own sexual desires. A heroine who, after years of not being her own person, becomes one.
But this is only Part I and it's too soon to tell. It's the promise of those things though that will keep me going. As a stand-alone romance, this story doesn't entirely work. As the set-up to a bigger picture? The jury is still out.
Final Grade = C+