Pros:Fun romance; plenty of world-building and bedplay
The Bottom Line: Sweet, fun, and funny, although the misunderstandings add up a bit much. Continues the steady improvement over the course of the series---call it a 3.5
Jean Johnson's The Master is the third book in her fantasy world-building/erotic romance series, "Sons of Destiny". Eight brothers (four sets of non-identical twins, all powerful mages) are the subject of a prophecy, and their homeland, out of fear of the prophecy, has exiled them to a deserted island. Among other things, the prophecy covers the fact that each brother shall find his destined bride, in order from the eldest brother to the youngest. Each book focuses on a single erotic romantic pairing, as well as the development of the island of Nightfall and its bid for independence.
The Master takes us back to Dominor, who was kidnapped earlier in the series by people who wanted him for his power. Most of his brothers are frantic over his disappearance, while Morganen seems to be holding out on them—but then, he has spent a long time poring over the prophecy, and perhaps he has an idea that Dominor’s wife-to-be will be found wherever it is that he’s headed. After various indignities, Dominor ends up sold into slavery—to a powerful arithmancer who is willing to free him and send him home, as long as he swears a mage-oath to help her enact a powerful and very important magic that will hopefully end an ongoing war. That magic will end up bringing the two together, but a series of misunderstandings threatens to tear them apart again.
I love Dominor’s intended, Serina, and her absent-minded genius, as well as how the relationship changes both of them. They definitely change the tone of the household a bit. It's also nice to get to explore a different part of the world than just Nightfall and its controlling kingdom. My problem with this one, however, is that the misunderstandings are a bit difficult to buy into past a certain point, and there are one or two things Dominor really should have picked up on earlier given that he isn’t an idiot. That said, it helps that the characters who actually figured out what was going on thought that the two of them were being idiots as well, at least.
The Master clearly sets up the following book, since it's obvious early on that Serina's best friend, Mariel, is probably the woman fated to aid and fall in love with Dom's twin, Evanor. Johnson still has her knack for making each romance entirely different in feel. She writes incredibly original, surprisingly long bedplay scenes that indulge in a sense of whimsy and playfulness typically lacking in most erotic romances.
Standard warning: this series concentrates almost entirely on complex, detailed fantasy world-building and playful erotic romance, so the action scenes are few and far between. It's a style that's perfectly enjoyable... if you're expecting it, and if you like that sort of book.
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