Title: Earthly Pleasures
Author: Sera Trevor
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 261 Pages
Category: Historical, Fantasy
At a Glance: Earthly Pleasures is a fun, quick fantasy with an interesting premise and story.
Reviewed By: Jovan
Blurb: Prince Paurick is a hedonistic degenerate—or at least that’s what his father and the rest of the royal family think of him, and he’s happy to live down to their expectations. But when the crops of their kingdom start failing, the king commands that Paurick be joined to Brother Laurel, a monk, in order to combine Paurick’s royal magic with that of the Goddess, and thus bring fertility back to the land. The union is only meant to be temporary, but Brother Laurel is so ugly and prudish that it might as well be an eternity. However, as they get to know one another, Paurick realizes he has misjudged Laurel and finds himself falling for the thoughtful and sensitive young man. The fate of the kingdom relies on their sexual union, but as time goes on, it becomes clear that the fate of their hearts is in jeopardy as well.
This Regency inspired gay romance fantasy is a steamy read featuring a delightfully debauched prince and a repressed holy man, who needs a little encouragement to embrace his sensual side. It is standalone and ends with an HEA.
Review: Earthly Pleasures is a fun, quick fantasy that reads more like a historical romance. As a second son, and allergic to being told what to do, Prince Paurick has dedicated his life to his own earthly pleasures and amusement, spending his days immersed in the superficial and his nights at Divano’s, the most debauched gentleman’s club in the city. When tasked with coupling with the “ugly, brazen” acolyte, Brother Laurel, in a fertility rite to help stop a famine, Paurick is horrified but agrees to do his duty. He is even generous enough to forgive Brother Laurel for his ugliness, since it’s not his fault, and vows to make their coupling as enjoyable as possible since it’s probably the only pleasure the “poor sod” will ever receive. To his utter shock, devout and earnestly faithful Laurel is equally horrified at the thought of giving his body to the hedonistic, wastrel prince. Despite the dubious consensual nature and inauspicious beginning of their relationship, as these things often go, the MCs soon come to care deeply for each other and spend three months in relative bliss. When reality intrudes, and Laurel is reminded of his vows to the church, he and Paurick will learn how much their time together affected who they are and what they want.
Paurick is your stereotypical spoiled prince, raised in the lap of luxury and insulated from responsibility and the hardships encountered by the less privileged; he is built to play the superficial word and mind games of the upper class. So, of course, he considers Laurel an overly serious, joyless prude, and has a hard time being sincere when the situation calls for it. Paurick is so used to living this way, he tends to minimize how important Laurel’s faith is to him and uses it as a way to manipulate him into loosening up. True to character, even when he comes to love Laurel, he only considers his own needs and not only fails to consider Laurel’s devotion to the church Laurel credits with saving his life and giving him purpose but is also unwilling to make any sacrifices of his own.
Laurel, while devout, willing to do whatever his Goddess commands and seen as humble to most, has an inner strength and complete lack of humbleness when it comes to the feckless Prince. Having been sold to a workhouse at the age of seven and condemned to a life of starvation, poverty and near death, he views Paurick’s pursuit of frivolity and worldly possessions as meaningless and trivial. However, as much as he tries to deny it, and though “acolytes [aren’t] supposed to have strong feelings aside from devotion to the Goddess”, Laurel’s own hidden passion and love of earthly pleasures, such as good food, opera and novels, makes him susceptible to the teasing, fun and laughter Paurick tempts him with. However, no matter how much he loves Paurick, Laurel cannot turn his back on the world he has dedicated almost half of his young life to for a man who has done nothing to show he can be trusted to honor Laurel’s sacrifice and protect his heart.
I really enjoyed the story in the second half of the book, which focuses on the tangible costs of Paurick’s self-centeredness and irresponsibility, his recognition of the emptiness of his life and his attempts to be better, and how Laurel’s faith and heart are tested as he learns more about the inner working of the church. What they are able to see about the worlds they inhabit and themselves after being influenced by one another is interesting and allows Paurick and Laurel space to develop outside of the bubble they created. The world is also noteworthy in that magic exists, but in very specific and isolated forms. The main recognized magic is a type of fire ability called the sun touch, which is constrained to the royal family who are descendants of the Goddess they serve, and her sun-touched lover Phaylis. The second is an earth magic which is usually a simple connection to the earth and plant life experienced by some acolytes of the Goddess. Since the sun touch is mostly useful in terms of battle, and the country has been free from war for decades, the setting is basically magic-free and comes across more 18th century European, so don’t expect magic to be featured prominently throughout the story, though it does play an important role.
Earthly Pleasures is an enjoyable, easy read with an interesting premise and story. While it did take some time for me to warm up to Paurick, I loved Laurel and found his faith and his battle with himself compelling, as was his love for his “charming fool”, Paurick.
You can buy Earthly Pleasures here:
[zilla_button url=”http://authl.it/B07GTXJDZN?d” style=”blue” size=”large” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Amazon/Kindle Unlimited [/zilla_button]