This is the first book I read in 2015, and it is the first book I reviewed in 2015. I have a very special reason for that.
I know MeiLin Miranda through a mutual obsession we have; perfume oil collecting. We have both been members on a forum for years and we connected in an author’s topic. She told me about her book and I had to read it. It was even free! Then, the life of a bookworm happened, and I wound up leaving it stashed at the bottom of my TBR pile. Every time we interacted, I had a renewed sense of “gotta read that” and then something else new and shiny would come along. It was literally the first book I ever put on my Kindle account.
MeiLin and her family have come on some hard times recently, which is why I decided to read the book and review it. Even if I decided I didn’t like it, I would hopefully garner some interest and some support through book sales. Well, I needn’t have worried about not liking the book. I loved it.
You might be wondering what kind of hard times might be happening. I have spoken to MeiLin’s husband and received permission to tell you. In early November, their house burned down. The family made it out OK, but sadly one beloved pet and about a third of their possessions were lost in the fire. The house will have to be gutted back to the studs and rebuilt. Thankfully, the family has really good insurance, so they have been set up with a temporary house until theirs can be rebuilt. But when it rains, it tends to pour. A few weeks before Christmas, MeiLin Miranda had a stroke.
I don’t know the details of how severe it was, but I know that in the course of her recovery, MeiLin has been suffering from some severe aphasia. Imagine being so passionate about words, and then having their use taken away from you. I have spent a lot of time sending healing energy across the miles to MeiLin, as I don’t live close enough to visit her.
But the great news is that she is getting better. It is a slow process, but since the event in December, she has had some incredible moments of lucidity. I am so proud of her and so happy for her family when I hear she is doing well. And I have hope that someday she will write again. Because holy bananas, she needs to be able to write again!
Now that I have given the full story about the author and why I chose this book as my first for 2015, I think it is time to… you know… actually review the book.
The first thing I thought of while reading was that Lovers and Beloveds is very heavily influenced by the Kushiel books as written by Jacqueline Carey. Which is really interesting, because according to Goodreads, she’s never read them.
MeiLin’s writing style is fantastic. She writes very readable and elegant prose. The few minor nitpicky things I found with the book were more on the editing side of things. Being an editor and proofreader myself, I tend to notice things more often, and it also tends to irk me more. An example is that Whithorse and Whitehorse are both used to describe the same spot.
The erotica in Lovers and Beloveds is tastefully written, and works well within the story. When it comes to explicit sex scenes in literature, my personal preference is that it not come from nowhere. I like it to have a purpose other than to be explicitly sexual. MeiLin Miranda achieved that balance, and while the erotica is very expansive (F/M, M/M, F/F, kink, sibling incest, rape, implied pedophilia) it never made me feel uncomfortable, or like the negative aspects were glorified. Bonus? No weird euphemisms for penis.
The book follows the newly come-of-age Temmin quite closely, however there is quite a cast of characters. As this was originally a serialized publication on MeiLin’s website, I can see how that might have worked. However, when reading it all in one go as a novel, it is very overwhelming. You don’t learn much about any of the characters. You see Temmin being a bratty teenager, you see that some characters are hiding something, and you want to know more… but there isn’t enough to sate even the most basic of questions about the central characters.
Scott Westerfield, whom I am not a fan of, has a quote floating around about how bad readers want everything answered. But I feel that doesn’t reflect the other half of the equation. Bad books and bad authors leave everything unanswered. I am not saying that Lovers and Beloveds is a bad book by ANY stretch, but it left me with more questions than it answered.
The ending of the book was so very abrupt, yet undramatic, I was left feeling unsatisfied. Again, looking at it as a work of serial fiction, it would have been great. But when you put it all together it read as very lackluster. That said, I am invested enough in the story that I really want the second book now.
The world is very similar to ours, but just different enough to take you out of the feeling of reading something realistic. The days are named differently, and a month is renamed to a “spoke” and lasts about 10-15 days longer. These differences, as well as pronunciation of the names, are detailed at the back of the book. The one aspect I was wishing for was a map, especially with the political ramifications. A map helps me envision borders and distances much better.
A very racy and readable coming-of-age fantasy novel. Definitely recommended for anyone who’s tastes tend towards erotica.
This book is available for free from all major ebook websites.