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Review: Royal Pain (Part 01)

Reviewer: Jaime Samms

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Author: Yamila Abraham
Artist: M.A. Sambre
Publisher: Yaoi Prose
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: April 2010

Synopsis: “An enticing new-comer has arrived in King Jereth’s court. Moors has invented electricity in the Middle Ages, and has quite a high opinion of his accomplishment. When he’s installed as the kingdom’s Royal Alchemist he begins to make outrageous demands, and then throws tantrums when those demands aren’t met. King Jereth is amused with the attractive upstart at first, but then finds his spoiled attitude tedious. No matter how brilliant the man is Jereth will not tolerate disrespect. When Moors accidentally hits Jereth’s bottom with a sharp piece of metal he reaches his limit. Moors is thrown over his knee and spanked. Despite being spurred by anger, the act has an unusual effect on both king and vassal. It gave Jereth a thrill he didn’t expect, and Moors became subdued and aroused. A most unconventional romance has begun!”

This story is just a thinly veiled excuse for a bit of a spanking fantasy – not that there’s anything wrong with that. I enjoyed Moors’ characterization. He was no shrinking violet, and had every reason to resist the king’s advances based on his previous experiences at the hands of a capricious monarch. Plus, being a genius is tough enough without the distraction of a groping king to worry about. His resistance is believable in its source, at least, and the king’s tenacity is truly epic. Whether the spanking as punishment would hold up in a true D/s situation is debatable, but it is fun to watch, and interesting to see how Moors manages to retain his independent, belligerent streak despite his inner desire to actually submit, and his fear surrounding giving up that independence.

The plot really isn’t much more than boy-meets-boy, boy-gets-boy. There’s never any doubt Moors is going to give in, and never a question about the king’s intentions. The plot, in this story is just a vehicle for the erotic interludes. Again – nothing wrong with that. The book isn’t billed as anything other than what it is, and it’s a decent example of the genre.

Technically, the book is well written, with just a few instances of some clunky dialogue and some odd turns of phrase, but nothing too terrible. It was definitely an easy read and no trouble, most of the time, figuring out who’s doing what to whom. This is partly due to the very different characters and the well defined boundaries. There’s never a time when either of them act out of character, so no confusion when things get hot and heavy, as can sometimes happen when all the pronouns are the same.

The novel is billed as a two parter, so I’m going to hope that the second part resolves the unanswered question. Even if this was it for the story, it at least leaves the reader with a happy-for-now ending, which was fine with me.

This is the first illustrated yaoi novel I’ve read on my Sony, and I’m pleased the graphics came up nicely even though I had to enlarge the print to read it (as I do with any book I put on there). I was worried they wouldn’t translate and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the illustrations, but it worked out just fine. Not like holding the actual book, but still, nicer than I expected.

As for the art itself, it wasn’t completely to my taste, though it is very well executed. The artist definitely caught the differences in the characters and displayed it to very good advantage in her work. She caught the characters’ personalities in her depictions, though I found some of the poses a bit stiff. Still, this is just a different style than I’m used to, and art is kind of a personal love- it-or-not kind of thing. I very much appreciate the skill and patience that went into the amount of detail in the illustrations and even though the style is not what I generally like, I would have enjoyed seeing more pictures in the book. It’s always fascinating to see how the artist interprets what the author has written.

If you go into Royal Pain expecting an intricate plot, you’ll be disappointed, but if you’re looking for a bit of PWP with some power exchange and two strong-willed characters, this is just the ticket.

Review written August 4, 2010 by Jaime Samms
Digital copy provided by Yaoi Prose for review purposes

Jaime Samms

About the Author:

Jaime Samms has been writing gay romance and fiction for quite some time now, and reviewing it for almost as long. She's published with e-publishers Freya’s Bower, Lovyoudivine Alterotica and soon, Total e-Bound and Drollerie Press. "Writing is quite a passion for me. I’ve been asked many times why write about love affairs between men, when I clearly am not one, and really, it feels right to me. Not a terribly informative answer, but there it is."

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