For today’s review, I’ve read the book My Lord by fellow queer and polyamorous writer, L. B. Shimaira (can also be found on her website)! This is a horror with kinky romance/erotic scenes that titillate, while providing a new version of vampires to haunt your daydreams. Er, I mean, nightmares.
Since this author is less well-known than the author of my previous Bath Book Review, focusing on A Court of Thorns and Roses, I shall do my best not to reveal too many spoilers. I’ll try to limit myself to spoilers provided by the author in their descriptions of the book.
The thing I like best about this story is that the author knows what they’re doing. What I mean is, Shimaira knows kink. While there’s some horrific stuff throughout the book including mutilation, murder, and cannibalism (not a spoiler, it’s in her content warning at the beginning!), the kink is presented well. There’s even a perfectly written afterword providing extra information at the end of the novel that is absolutely a must read. It’s a refreshing change of pace to see healthy kink and education being advocated for in print. So bravo!
The premise of this book is that a woman named Meya is enslaved and sold to the infamous Lord Deminas, our vampire for the evening. At his castle, Meya uncovers horrors and also finds love interests. (Spoiler alert) I loved her relationship as it developed with fellow slave/servant, Nina, and enjoyed learning about the Lord with her. There is a lot of horror, off screen and on, including a cannibalism scene that chilled me quite a bit. Not for the faint of heart, or those with a weak constitution!
The writing style is fast paced and easy to read. I perhaps shouldn’t have read it just before bedtime, since it got my blood pumping! I feel like I blinked and was at page 50. There were a few things here and there like repeated words/phrases and a few exclamation points that I felt could have been edited out and the constant internal dialogue from the protagonist, Meya, was a little much for me, but overall, not badly written at all. Though I wish there was more of a distinction between ‘slave’ and ‘servant’, as the two words were used interchangeably, and this left me a little confused as to Meya’s true status.
I’m not sure what this says about me, but the scenes with Lord Deminas read a bit like some irl roleplay scenes I’ve enjoyed. There’s a level of off-screen threat of violence and horror that’s thrilling when you know it isn’t going to be inflicted on the main character (or, in my case, knowing I was safe in the hands of someone who wouldn’t actually do anything horrible). I’ve written before about unhealthy romance and enjoying such fiction, and I think this author has managed to do something I want more authors to do. They understand their role as a storyteller… but also as a Dominant, with us, the readers, acting as their submissive through fiction. This is a roleplay, and the author makes that clear, even providing aftercare in the afterword and providing proper consent for the reader in the content warnings at the beginning. I can’t begin to applaud this enough and think other authors should take note.
The BDSM relationship between Lord Deminas reads as a Master/slave fantasy, not an idealized abuser the author actually thinks anyone should be in a relationship with. Fun for a book, fun for play time, but in real life would be something horrible. One should never date a murderous, torturing, cannibalistic monster, obviously.
The relationship with Nina, the sapphic love interest for Meya, was something I enjoyed every moment of. She’s sweet and tender, and I would so love to curl up in her arms. I do also enjoy that their relationship isn’t stigmatized or looked down upon. It’s simply accepted, despite such relationships being highly discouraged at the time period this book takes place, allegedly in 1239-1240 C.E./A.D. While it might be anachronistic, I am tired of seeing hate, and this was very refreshing. This book is a fantasy, so why not indulge the fantasy and make it queer? All I can say is yes to Nina and I want more of her in every way.
Though, speaking of the dates of the book, this brings me to worldbuilding. This is not the book to go to for detailed, expansive worldbuilding. There’s enough for flavor, for taste, but not for a meal. Solely from reading the book, I’m not sure where exactly this is meant to take place. The country of Tristanja seems to be made up, but there are references to Hungary and the Mediterranean from our world, leading me to think that perhaps this is a sort of alternate universe. There’s also the presentation of the date as Anno Domini (A.D.), indicating the existence of Christianity, though the religion has otherwise no mention or presence in the story. There’s also the “war”. All I know is that there is “war”, but I don’t know why, though maybe I missed something. Religious disagreements? Territorial disputes? Struggle for resources? Who knows, it’s just war. But, with the main plot focusing on the relationships that Meya has and the mystery of Lord Deminas and his strange thirst, we don’t really *need* to know. This isn’t a book about war, it’s a book about horror and kink. Like I said, the worldbuilding is there for flavor, but that’s all. It’s like painting the walls red in a kink dungeon – it’s cool, but you were going to have fun regardless of the color of the walls. The book’s purpose is to draw you in with it’s threats, touches, and commands. To make you feel like a good submissive slave. Which it does very nicely.
Also, side note, there’s no chamber pots – everyone’s going to latrines? And there’s a pump with running water in the Lord’s bathroom? I mean, I know chamber pots are gross, and hot baths are sexy… Actually, sexy baths wins it for me, going to suspend disbelief with that. Ignore this complaint.
One thing I wished was a little different was Meya’s behavior. In the beginning, she’s very feisty and rebellious, then she becomes less so after being sold as a slave. Several things happen that could justify this change, so it’s completely understandable, but personally I was hoping to see a bit of bratty behavior in the BDSM dynamic. For the uninitiated, a ‘brat’ is a type of submissive who enjoys misbehaving to provoke punishment from the Dominant. Essentially, a Dom/me will say “get on your knees” and instead of “Yes Sir/Ma’am,” a brat will say “Make me.” Instead, it’s insinuated that all the previous chambermaids for Lord Deminas were bratty (a little excessively so considering the clear and dire consequences such as mutilation and execution), while Meya is the submissive and subservient one, which he likes. It would have been fun to see this dynamic flipped, with Lord Deminas replacing previous slaves/servants who were too subservient, and sticking with Meya because he enjoys her vigor. She does have a few flashes of brattiness later on, but I would have liked more. That’s just my personal opinion as a real life brat though. I *did* get the brattiness I was craving to see, but not quite from the person I expected, which was a very interesting scene indeed! If you want to known more, go buy the book, I’m going to keep that spoiler secret.
The best thing about this book is that it presents a great representation of polyamory. My favorite line was “If your heart is big enough for two, I’m just happy to be one of them.” I need that on a T-shirt or a tattoo or something. Some might complain as to how the polyamory arose, but I think it’s one of the handful of realistic things presented when someone is first considering the concept, especially in a time period where it’s not really a thing the way it is now.
I would rate My Lord by L. B. Shimaira the following, with 5 being the max:
⭐⭐⭐ 3/5 for the writing style. It could have used a touch more editing, but no glaring typos. Just personal stylistic choices I would enjoy done a little differently.
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4/5 for the characters. Overall, I enjoyed the main characters a lot! However, it does seem odd that there were so many misbehaving slaves/servants when the consequences were so dire, and the difference between page 1 Meya and page 50 Meya seemed a little off, so one star off. But overall, lovely chemistry and I had fun reading!
⭐⭐ 2/5 for worldbuilding. Giving points for the unique take on vampires (though they’re never called as such and use a knife instead of teeth/fangs), as I enjoyed that creativity. But aside from that, there simply wasn’t a lot of worldbuilding. That’s not bad, since the story’s not about the world and instead focuses on the people, but I can’t give points for what’s not there.
⭐⭐⭐ 3/5 for the plot. The plot is fine. It’s not surprising, it does what you expect, but that’s not a bad thing. The plot is the relationships and the horror.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5/5 for the romance! Focusing only on what I saw as romantic, the relationship with Nina, I loved it. They were adorable together. I can’t consider Lord Deminas to be a true romantic partner for most of the book as he always held too much power for true consent to be reached, but he was good in other ways, so still 5/5!
🔥🔥🔥🔥 4/5 heat level – this isn’t a grade on the quality of the book, so not to be factored into the overall, just an indication of the heat level for potential readers to expect going in. It’s not all sex all the time… but it gets explicit and kinky and hot. A 5/5 would be something that has nothing but sex, and a 1/5 would be a fade-to-black situation. I think 4/5 is *just* right for my tastes!
🩺🩺🩺🩺 This was interesting to try to grade, but I ultimately decided on 4/5 stethoscopes for how healthy the relationship is. Not to say that the relationship between Meya and Lord Deminas is healthy… at all. He literally owns her and could and would mutilate or murder her if he wanted to. And he has to others. That’s not healthy, so point off because I can’t let that slide. HOWEVER, and this is huge, the author knows this. This book is not written to be super healthy in that regard, for the fun of the readers and the writer, but does heavily press the importance of consent in sex. If the author hadn’t been so clear and hadn’t provided good education, this would be a 2/5, with points given because Lord Deminas isn’t a rapist (thank goodness, one sin he doesn’t indulge) and because Nina is an absolute delight.
Ultimately, if you enjoy horror and kink, pick up this book and have a good time!
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