Sir William is called home due to the impending death of his father. On the journey, he catches his squire watching other men having sex and realizes Duncan is also ready for some love play. Once they reach the family’s estates, William and Duncan begin an affair of both body and heart. But the happiness they find together is short-lived when the king dictates that William must marry a suitable heiress.
Unable to bear his place beside William and his wife, Duncan flees. Can William find the squire to convince him their love is meant to be?
Review by Erastes
This is an erotic short novella/long short story set in the 14th century, and the heat level is right up there at the top end of the thermometer. I’ll say here and now that I enjoyed the story, and although it’s short and sweet, the author did all the things a short story should do with conflict, and resolution and I can’t fault it in that way at all. I enjoyed the sex too!
The characters were easy to get to know, and I particularly liked Duncan for all his enthusiasm and affection. His knight Sir William has a voice all his own, and I could really see him as described.
That being said, and as this is a historical blog, I have to mention some of the things that struck me when it became clear that this was simply wallpaper historical erotica – men in fancy dress having a lot of sex out ofthe fancy dress – and this could have been avoided.
Firstly, the speech. As the story is set in 1345 it would of course have been impossible to write the speech as it was unless you wanted ye olde Chaucerie erotica but there are ways to express a more formal way of speaking. It is also fine to have your characters speaking in modern (but not too modern please) ways of speaking – but to mix them up is jarring to the reader (or to this reader anyway). One minute Duncan is sounding like a modern man; and then – almost as if the author was suddenly thinking “oops – got to remind the reader that this is in the past” words like “mayhap”, “swive” (when fuck (and making love) are used alternately) and “nay” are scattered throughout. I don’t mind one or the other, but not both.
The historical inaccuracies abound I’m afraid, enough to make a purist scream: Braes are referred to as ancient underpants but braes are actually hills, and I was a bit confused why the squire had hills around his ankles. The word for medieval knickers is braies. There’s mention of chests of drawers (no!) and a wardrobe (definitely not!) but most jarring is Duncan’s age. I understand perfectly why the author had to make him 18, (because most publishers insist on it as that’s the legal age in parts of the USA) but it makes little sense in context, and warping fact to fit modern sensibilities is just daft. Squires were 12 or so when they became squires (having been pages before this from the age of 6 or 7) so to say he’d only been a squire for two years stuck out like a sore thumb. This could have been avoided with a bit of alteration – say making him a squire since he was 12 although this wouldn’t have explained why he could hardly ride a horse.
The editing has to be mentioned too, I’m afraid. Amber Quill is invite only and self-proclaims itself as “The Gold Standard in Publishing” but there are too many typos for me to be convinced of the hyperbole, and in such a short story the quantity of errors, both in accuracy and in the text simply isn’t acceptable.
It’s hard to comment more on the plot, because of the shortness of the piece, but it hangs together well– and, as I said, the sex is red-hot so lovers of historical sex will definitely find this lights a fuse under them. For me though –although I enjoyed the erotica – it was the inaccuracies that spoiled it for me. It won’t stop me looking out for more of Shawn Lane’s work though, as it’s clear that he/she can tell a tale, in and out of the bedroom.