Stand and Deliver, by Scarlet Blackwell
Publisher: Pride Publishing (October 20, 2015)
Word Count: approx. 35,000 words
Genre: Historical; Gay (M/M) Erotica, Romance, Threesome (M/M/M)
Rating: 4 out of 5
* I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review. This novel was previously published and has been revised and re-released. *
I’m not sure that I should have enjoyed this book as much as I did, but it was so fun and delightful that it was the literary equivalent of eating an entire bag of candy in one sitting. Healthy? Nope! A well-deserved treat? Oh heck yes!
Lucien, Earl of Ravensberry, has the looks, the title, the house and all the money in the world. What he’s lacking in his humdrum life of loneliness is someone to warm his sheets at night. When he’s kidnapped by five highwaymen one night, things start looking up. This is the most exciting thing to happen to him in forever.
But Lucien’s life is in danger. Dante, the tough, self-appointed leader of the band, doesn’t have a lot of time for captives and vows to kill him—after he’s used Lucien’s body as he desires. Then there’s Ambrosius, Dante’s best friend, a damaged, reclusive individual who appeals to Lucien from the outset. The feeling is mutual, and Lucien is soon braving a whirlwind of emotions. He had never thought to fall for an outlaw, and he is torn between escaping and satisfying the needs of his heart. All he knows is, life will never be the same again…
First things first, the summary has a pretty serious typo, which is glaringly obvious: there are only four highwaymen, not five. Um, whoops?
Okay, my review.
Look, this novel is cheesy to the max. It’s Regency England, and Lucien is stuck-up and full of himself, with a bit too much money and too little common sense. It’s full of characters getting aroused during inappropriate situations, and kidnappings, and tragic backstories that make the characters Dark, Brooding, and Mysterious. Basically, replace Lucien with a random woman and you’d have your standard bodice-ripper erotica.
But sometimes the brain needs a bit of junk food, and I really enjoyed this book. Lucien knows that the road home from a late-night party is dangerous, but he doesn’t really expect to be robbed halfway to his home. So he fights back… and captures the attention of one of the robbers, who can’t decide if he’s brave or stupid but is intrigued all the same. An impulse decision to take Lucien with them results in Lucien being thrust into the world of the four highwaymen, all of whom are interesting and complex characters.
I will say that there were a few moments that I was less than pleased with. The whole “I’ve been kidnapped and they’re going to rape me but I’m attracted to them so it’s okay” trope is not appealing, and frankly a bit disturbing.
Did the highwayman mean what he thought he meant? Oh Jesus, Ambrosius had brought him to a fate worse than death. And yet… try as he might to deny his own loins, the highwayman was attractive, damn him. He was so attractive that Lucien felt a stirring in his breeches. (ePub pg. 15-16)
It’s not Stockholm Syndrome, it’s a ridiculous excuse for the captive to fall in lust with the man (or men) who captured him, without putting any effort into writing the actual emotions. Lucien being so easily turned on by the men who kidnapped him, right off the bat? Yeah, could do without. Thankfully, this does improve!
There are a lot of plot holes here, but ignore them. Seriously, just turn the logical part of your brain off and enjoy these ridiculous, delightful characters and their ridiculous, delightful emotions. This isn’t high literature, but it sure as hell is a fun read!
As the story progresses, the relationships really start to blossom into something beautiful. Ambrosius, one of the highwaymen who kidnapped Lucien, has a fantastic backstory that ties into the plot very well. His attraction to Lucien is only physical at first, but they soon learn more about one another, and realize that there’s something deeper between them.
“Now you know what you’ve done to me. I still want you. Knowing what I know about you, Ambrosius, I still want you.” (ePub pg. 94)
There’s also a fantastic side-plot with Dante, the highwayman who threatens Lucien with rape over and over. He’s not just a flat, evil character; there’s a legitimate reason for acting why he does!
For a smutty erotica novel, there’s a surprising amount of depth and character-building here, which made it easy to digest the less-than-literary parts. A really enjoyable read!
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