Prince of Ice
Isn’t it great to come across a really erotic book with wonderfully real characters? Even when…um, the book is essentially a fairy tale.
Though Holly sets up a semi-complicated mythology involving a demon race of superior creatures living in a remote area discovered by humans during the Victorian era, the truth is that she could have done without much of that. There is no interaction with humans here at all, and, since the technology of the demon race – they call themselves the Yama – is far superior to Victorian-era humans, the story could take place at virtually any time from the 1840s to today.
However, mythology that is necessary to the story also gets a bit complicated. The Yama place a high value on restraining emotions and have a intricate class structure that also has its physical side. When a prince of the blood meets his true “mate”, his eyes turn black and he eventually gets a sort of penis extension. (I know it sounds dumb, but it works better within the context of the story.)
Corum is a 20-year old prince who was born with a genetic defect that makes it difficult for him to control his emotions. As a way to help him deal with the stress of his childhood, the girl child of a maid is brought into the family and raised along beside him. Xishi and Corum are inseparable until Corum’s mother sends the little girl away when both are eight because of her fears of Corum’s inappropriate dependence on his friend.
After spending a number of years in an orphanage, eventually Xishi lands in a “pillow girl” training program where – you guessed it – Corum eventually buys her.
What works here is the relationship between Corum and Xishi – and rest assured, it really is a relationship. Both recognize the other soon enough so there aren’t any real secrets in the way and the evolution of their relationship from master and servant to something more is believable and w-a-a-a-y sexy. (Well, with the exception of an electrically charged sex toy that sounded more disgusting than sexy to me, but, hey, we’ve all got our eccentricities.)
A complicated subplot involving Xishi’s true identity takes away from the main attraction, as does some of Holly’s world-building – especially when a whole lot of it just wasn’t necessary to the story she’s telling here.
Still, Prince of Ice is a largely enjoyable book that quite effectively pulled me out of a painful reading slump. If you’re a fan of Holly or of erotic romance, you’ll definitely want to check this one out since it is a decidedly superior example of the genre. As for me, I enjoyed this one enough that I’ll be picking up The Demon’s Daughter the first book in this series, on my next trip to Borders.