Is another erotic novel. I seem to be reviewing a lot of these because 99% of them are uniformly dire. This is no exception.
It's written by a Deanna Ashford and published under the "Black Lace" imprint of papery pr0n that used to exist in the 1980s and 1990s - and will exist again given the recent popularity of "mommy porn" no doubt. The bumf on the back describes it (at least on the edition I got off Amazon for 1p plus £2.80 postage and packing) as "A rollicking tale of swords and sorcery with lashings of kinky sex." As such, I was kind of expecting some good hard thud and blunder entwined with gratuitous porking.
Well, I got the latter. Ohhhhhhhh yes. I got the latter. I think I'll go straight to the executive summary, mmkay?
Good Heavens! Something as thick and hard as the handle of the Great Broadsword of Harn has just hoved into view between the bedsheets!
A bit more detail, if you wouldn't mind?
Just so you know - that's not me snarking up there. That's an actual quote, pretty much. At one point the heroine describes the obligatory lust interest's, erm, tallywhacker, in those terms.
Anyhow. Rianna is the daughter of the Protector of Harn, Gerek. Her late mother, Kitara, was some sort of a she-warrior and the apple is said to be similarly spirited and enjoys riding horses and so forth. However, when the time comes for her to be unfortunately sold to the lord of the neighbouring land of Percheron, a singular perverted tyrant named Sarin (what a gas! Sorry...) because a peace treaty ain't a peace treaty without putting someone in one of the royals' beds, she fails to show any sign of feisty, spirited independence, even when Sarin's chief minister comes to inspect her virginity, she simply meekly submits to it with only a minor protest and then slightly enjoys having a hunchbacked old letch's hands all over her. This is necessary because Percheron's one of those lands where it's customary to hang the wedding night bedsheets out the window like a Japanese flag, and/or Sarin is a right brutal old basterd and it's important she's a virgin. Natch.
Character development? We don't need no stinkin' character development!
So, having completely failed to live up to her designated feistiness, Rhianna is put on the next caravan to Sarin's castle, where she encounters a prisoner, a gorgeous, muscled, bronzed god of a Viking, sorry, a Kabran, called Tarn. She sees him being tormented and sexually abused by Sarin's guardsmen and humiliated by being forcibly wanked off by one of them with a cat o' nine tails. After this, and the ensuing fight which involved Tarn kicking one of them in the cock, Rianna, who is also some sort of a herbalist and healer as well, gets leave to tend to Tarn's wounds even though he's a prisoner and a traitor.
In excruciating, purple-prosed detail.
With some of the most narmish prose I've ever seen committed to the page. In just a few short chapters, we not only learn of the dimensions of Tarn's bacon torpedo as being equivalent to an enchanted weapon of legendry, but also learn that he has a "stem," a "plum,", an "iron hard rod," and a "meaty shaft of life," underneath which he has a "seed sac." Blimey. However, more often than not he has a "sex." Tut. Lazy you, Deanna Ashford. In fact, despite her occasional forays into ridiculous metaphor, she most often refers to it as his "sex." Even when Tarn mentions how he caused one of the guardsmen to snap shut like a mousetrap, rather than say how he punched him in the wedding vegetables so hard his children will be bruised like a proper Viking that we're told he is, he says, "I hit his sex." Ohhhh dear.
Rianna has a sex as well, and also, if you must know, a "throbbing nubbin," a "pair of fleshly leaves," a "womanly sheath," a "rosy divide," a "kernel of delight," a "honey pot," and a "secret valley." But more often than not it's her sex.
Because of this, I was dreading the bits where they did get it on finally (it's important for plot reasons that Rianna remain a virgin) because it would either be impalement of her moist, secret flower of womanhood on his plenipotentiary instrument until love's sweet lava flowed or something like, "he put his sex in her sex and they had sex." In the end, we got both. Oh dear.
Then there was the fact that none of the characters had any real, well, character. We were told, as I have stated above, that Rianna was supposed to be the daughter of a noted she-warrior and inherited her mother's character traits but... no. Similarly, Tarn doesn't act like a Viking prince would be expected to act, but simply as so much convenient flesh for Rianna to get off on.
It gets better later on, to be fair, once they do arrive at Sarin's castle and we start making with the unpleasant shite. Man, Sarin is a serious, serious, pervert. But even that is simply an informed characteristic, and there's a few obligatory scenes where he forces the once proud Tarn into bending and spreading to his will by threatening to do unpleasant things to his brother. Needless to say, the pair of them escape, and then the narrative kind of just meanders to a pointless, fruitless end, without the thud and blunder that I'd been promised.
A bit of a digression here. Something you really have to get to grips with if you want to be a writer is the concept, "Show, don't tell." Deanna Ashford tells. We're told that Tarn is a renowned warrior and looks the part but never gets to show off his daring side. He never does anything in the novel to merit Rianna clinging to his mighty thews other than kick some mook in the dick. He simply acts as good looking and convenient flesh as I've said above. Similarly, Rianna spends her life being batted around from pillar to post and being the sort of person to whom things happen despite being supposedly a game girl. This really, really, annoys me. I know, what do I expect from it, it's aimed at being something to wank over, but like I've said before, the difference between porn and erotica is believability. In porn, they just do it. In erotica, they do it, and you can understand why they have such a stonk-on for each other. It's all about the context. Here, there is no context. Just increasingly stupidly written bonking scenes which rapidly become dull.
Which is a real pity, as I think that a genuine thud and blunder novel written from the perspective of the chainmail-bikini-wearing love interest could be very good and appeal both to blokes who appreciate the badassery and lassies who appreciate the sexy bits. Assuming, of course, it is done well and, above all, it's believable. As it is, though, Savage Surrender is close to being the erotica equivalent of "The Eye of Argon". And we don't even see the Great Broadsword of Harn for comparison.
However, despite all the above, it is still better than "Fifty Shades of Grey."
(Christ, talk about damning with faint praise.)