Monday, March 8, 2010

Review- Secrets Revealed (Eldritch Legacy I) by Katrina Strauss

Secrets Revealed (Eldritch Legacy I)
by Katrina Strauss
Historical (Medieval)/ fantasy/ BDSM/ erotica/ m-f/ f-f (bi-sexual)/ f-f-m/ m-f-m/m-m
60K- $6.99
Ebook- Publisher: Loose-Id

Buy it Loose-Id, Fictionwise, ARe, Amazon (Kindle)

The king's fiercest warrior, Lord Eldritch, hides his face behind an iron mask, and his tortured past beneath a hardened shell. For nineteen years the Black Magi have ruled the land; the evil king's knights enforcing the ban on all forms of magick once practiced by the common populace. And none have been more feared than Eldritch.

A young peasant, beautiful in body and soul, Inga was orphaned as child and raised to hide her healing gifts in ordered to stay free. She is plagued by nightmares of Eldritch--and shaken when her dreams take an unexpected sensual turn.

Rumors of a practicing medicine woman reach the Magi and Eldritch must investigate. He finds a strong-willed maiden who ignites his passion and stirs memories of a love long lost. Self-protective, he imprisons Inga in the castle dungeon where he may possess and keep her forever. In time Inga learns that, even in submission, she wields power over her captor. Can she inspire Eldritch to face his past and challenge the king while she, herself, resists the seductive lure of dark magick?

Publisher's note: This book is a re-edited, revised version of a title previously released by another publisher, and contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, BDSM them and content (including/not limited to tethering, voyeurism), dubious consent, homoerotic sexual situations (f/f, m/m), menage (m/f/f and m/f/m).

Wow, this story grabbed me right from the get-go and was good to the last page. I’ve mentioned before that I often use the bookmark feature on my eBookwise to highlight passages that are off to me or that I want to review later. The worse the writing, the more the bookmarks. I read this book with nary a book mark. It means that for me, the writing and story-telling was very clean, engaging and lacking in any issues that normally bog down a book for me.

I will also admit that I didn’t know that this book contained some f/f in it. That was a huge bonus! I bought this book because I happened to enjoy Katrina Strauss’ writing and wanted to try one of her m/f stories as I’ve only read her m/m. The same crisp, evocative writing, complex character development, and imaginative story-telling that I’ve experienced in the past was very present in this book as well. This book was just a pleasure to read all around.

Right, to the story. Basically, the blurb is very accurate, so I’ll go from there. The characters: all of them are so rich and juicy, especially, of course, the two main ones, Lord Eldritch and Inga.

Lord Eldritch is one of those tortured heroes, but not in that over the top “oh puleeze, get over yourself” way. In the beginning of the book, he’s cruel and powerful; he takes what he wants without consequence and he wants Inga. He puts her in a dungeon straight away and keeps her there chained to the bed. For more than a year it’s like that even though he loves her and they have sex all the time. There’s a vibe about him that is so intense and dark, and yet, there’s a spark of something else in there that comes through once in a while, hinting at something deeper, but less sinister in him.

He wears a mask at all times because he’s been cursed; his face severely disfigured from it. This is part of his vulnerability and we learn that while he’s a dominant with Inga and the most feared knight in the kingdom everyone cowering in front of him, he’s kept in his place by the current evil King who has seen his face uses it against him.

Inga is one of the most real characters I’ve read in a while. She’s riddled with contradictions and yet, there's nothing off about her in that. I really got off on her willingness to go into her dark side and be real in every moment. She calls that part of her “the snake,” that part of her that allows her baser instincts and desires to rule her. I loved it. Absolutely loved it as she goes with it without personal judgment. No Mary Sue’s in this book.

Inga starts out by becoming rebellious and using her magik abilities to heal. She stopped caring that it’s against the king and that she can be killed for it because she sees her people suffering needlessly. So right from the beginning we see her strength and inner goodness. Inga also cannot get enough of Lord Eldritch. She readily becomes his submissive sexually even as she wonders why she is so attracted and doing such things.

As the story progresses, she is asked to do things, to make moral decisions that could end up getting people killed and yet, she does so without flinching, like a samurai sword coming down swift and hard. And she easily takes the position of being a domme with Thelise, the captured daughter of a rebel leader, who plays a role in Inga and Lord Eldritch’s lives. Inga’s only vulnerability is her love for Lord Eldritch and the passion of that relationship consumes her.

The story itself is also so provocative. There are several things going on that all mesh together that create a lot of tension and mystery as fiery emotions and power shifts erupt constantly. At its core, this is a story of passion and true human emotions and what it makes people do.

The title of this book, Secrets Revealed, is very apropos. There are secrets within secrets and as the story unfolds, shocking truths reveal themselves. This kept the story moving along at a nice pace with just the perfect amount of revelation to keep the reader guessing and intrigued at the same time.

The fantasy part of this story is complex and intricately woven throughout the story. Many people of this time have magic abilities but not all have the same kind. One that plays a huge role in this is the ability to read another’s thoughts. This leads to quite a bit of power play and intrigue between the characters as they often have to deal with trying to keep secrets even in their thoughts. Inga also has dreaming abilities and as the story unfolds, she sees past events in dreams, which causes her to disobey Lord Eldritch at a certain point, creating even more edginess to this story.

OK, now for the BDSM part. I’ve said before, I’m not too much a fan of BDSM. Much of what I read in this particular genre is more or less power tripping faux BDSM written by people who are clueless just for the titillation factor, which is a huge turn off for me. However, Katrina Strauss is one of the very few authors who can take me into this world and I get it. There’s nothing offensive at all about her way of writing BDSM. Not only that, I enjoyed reading it.

I also got off on the fact that while these characters all have qualities about them that are offensive and despicable to some degree and it’s tied in to some degree with the BDSM sexual aspect to it, Katrina Strauss never crosses the line that implies that BDSM and negative character traits go hand in hand. Really, it’s amazing writing when your characters can have evil characteristics and yet, the reader can easily fall in love with them, admire them as strong, powerful beings.

The only negative thing I can say about this book is that I would have liked more character development on Thelise. She’s a fascinating character, who, like Inga, acts on pure passion, but is incredibly selfless, selfish and vulnerable. I guess the story is pretty much perfect as it is and to develop her more would have maybe even cost the story some. But she was someone whom I wanted to know more about why she ticked.

For those who would read this book because of the f/f in it, well, all I can say is that the scenes between the women do carry a BDSM theme to them. It’s clear that Inga and Thelise share something very intimate and loving between them. They are very respectful of each other, but it’s not an f/f/m HEA. It’s still worth it to read for that alone, even if the main love story is between Inga and Lord Eldritch.

All in all, Secrets Revealed is a well written intense and passionate story set in a violent but colorful world. For any person who is into fantasy, dark m/f love, BDSM, and medieval stories, this a definite recommend. But I also recommend this book to people who like f/f and or those who are normally not into BDSM.

Sex rating: Orgasmic- while there are graphic sexual situations, the language used is more sensual and soft around the edges. There are many sexual scenes though and of all combinations. BDSM, flogging, anal, lots of m/f, some f/f, f/f/m, very minor m/m, and minor m/f/m.

Grade: A-

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