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This month’s Vaginal Fantasy reads were centered around fey (fairy). It’s definitely a turn from the previous 7 months or so which have trended towards books set in modern or futuristic times. We’re delving down into the fantasy genre for June.

Fire Lord's Lover Lord of the Fading Lands

This month’s main pick was The Fire Lord’s Lover by Kathryne Kennedy. This book takes place within an alternate history where fey have taken over the United Kingdom and divided it among themselves. The King of England is merely a pawn to be fought over by the different factions of fey. Dominic is the stoic son of the Fire King and has spent his entire life concealing his growing power from his downright evil father. Since the Fire King likes to destroy everything Dominic loves, Dominic has learned to hide his feelings. Lady Cassandra has essentially been raised in a convent while secretly training as an assassin by an underground rebellion trying to take back England from the fey. This all sounds way cooler than it ends up being.

The world building was mostly adequate and the sexy times are very sexy but the story still manages to fall somewhat flat. Calling it as “richly imagined as Tolkein” is a pretty huge stretch in my mind. Half of the book is spent with these two characters not knowing or understanding the other but still sleeping together out of marital obligation. As Lady Cassandra melts the heart of Dominic, he comes under the scrutiny of his father to the detriment of his love and his people. Will these two lovers work together? Yes. Yes, they will. It’s a romance novel. Of course, they will. Ultimately, when the ending rolls around, Dominic and Cassandra are left with lot of territory unexplored and it gives this book an unfinished quality. When I looked to see what the next book in the series was about, I discovered it follows a totally different couple and I lost interest.

The June alt pick was Lord of the Fading Lands by C.L. Wilson. This is a far more sweeping tale than Fire Lord’s Lover, more along the lines of Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy. Lord of the Fading Lands is the first installment in the Tairen Soul series. In this fantasy realm, the fey are linked to tairens (flying fire-breathing cats) and can even turn into them in some cases. The tairens are dying and with them the fey will die, too, if something isn’t done. King of the Fey, Rainier, in a desperate move to save his people, touches the “seeing eye” of the fey and is shown a human girl, Elysetta.

Unlike our characters in The Fire Lord’s Lover, Rain and Elysetta (particularly Elysetta) come off the page far more complete and fully realized. The political climate, religion, and fear are rendered with far more realism despite this being a pure fantasy book. This is a first installment and it does have a somewhat dissatisfying ending but be prepared to want to keep reading.

My only real complaint with this book is the smarmy character, Den, who seems to just be annoying for the sake of creating conflict. It’s fine at first but he’s just a horrible individual. Having started the next book, I can tell you he does continue to make appearances so it seems his part in the story isn’t necessarily over but his motives come off as contrived and I’d rather just read about Elysetta learning to work with the magic inside of her.

There are only a few, though definitely smokin’, sexy times in this book and if you like fantasy reads with a touch of steamy romance Lord of the Fading Lands is definitely the better written, more well-crafted option of the two Vaginal Fantasy picks for June.