by Nicola Davidson
Series: Highland Menage #1
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Publication Date: May 11, 2020
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Lady Janet Fraser didn’t earn her reputation as Scotland’s most notorious sinner by following the rules. A former mistress of King James IV, she’s content to live her life from pleasure to pleasure. Even if those pleasures—and people—are forbidden.
People like Sir Lachlan Ross, given the moniker The Highland Beast, a man as intimidating in battle as he is in size. A beast she discovers secretly wishes to be tamed and submit to her dominance.
Or like her new ward, Lady Marjorie Hepburn, a convent-raised virgin with a desire to be taught all the sensual secrets of the marriage bed. Things that Janet is fully willing to teach her, again and again. There’s much for her to learn.
And forbidden pleasures like the three of them together in one bed.
But Lachlan and Marjorie both have ties to the king. As wicked lusts are indulged and affection unexpectedly grows into love, breaking the rules this time could mean all of their undoing…
Content warnings: View Spoiler »
This is a fun, quick historical polyam romance. It’s pretty much erotic romance, as there is a side plot but most of the focus is on the three characters figuring out how they work together, both sexually and relationship-wise.
“And yet…the thought of hunts rather than war, a large feather bed with thick quilts in a warm chamber rather than a hard pallet in a corner, wasn’t entirely unappealing. Nor was protecting the two most beautiful women in Scotland—one pure fire, bold and brazen and fierce; the other spring rain, soothing and gentle and refreshing.”
After the king’s political marriage to an Englishwoman, Lady Janet, the worst sinner in Scotland and the king’s former mistress, is sent to her new countryside estate, with an additional new job – caretaker of one of the king’s wards. After her father attempted to assassinate the last king, Lady Marjorie has spent her life in a convent, and expects that her only use to the king is to be married off to someone of his choice. She’s awed by the worldly – and sexy – Lady Janet, and just plain starved for affection, and Janet is appreciative of how sweetly enthusiastic and innocent Marjorie is. Sir Lachlan Ross, the Highland Beast, the king’s champion, is chosen to guard them at their new countryside estate. He’s built his life on his skill at fighting and guarding the king, and being sent away from him seems like some sort of punishment. But he’s lusted after Janet for years, and he can’t deny being attracted to sweet Marjorie as well. Out of sight but not out of mind of the English queen, can Janet, Marjorie and Lachlan figure out how to make things work between all of them?
“Not all show love…the same way. Some do with words. Others with touch. But commanders show they c-care…with acts. When they lead. When they resolve. When they teach. When they guide others…safely home.”
The romance is pretty fun, not to mention steamy. You’ve got the quite knowledgeable Janet instructing virginal Marjorie on masturbation (among other things), and Janet going all domme on Lachlan, though it’s pretty light for BDSM. Consent is emphasized repeatedly, and sometimes a little heavy-handedly, but part of that is Janet’s teacherly manner with Marjorie. Despite his Beast-ishness, Lachlan’s a marshmallow at heart, and it shows in how he wants to take care of both women. Marjorie’s been unhappy for most of her life, and she’s pinned her hopes on finding fulfillment through having children. The possibility of finding happiness with Janet and Lachlan is absolutely electric to her, and so satisfying to watch her accept that. There’s a good focus on each of the characters, what they’re bringing to the triad, and how each person works with each of the others and all together. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses, and there’s a good mix of each person supporting the others and being supported in return.
As for cons, I’m not a fan of the jealous other woman trope, so I didn’t like that most of the conflict was driven by Queen Margaret’s jealousy (plus a bonus cameo from Janet’s ex-lover, as well). There’s some angst in terms of “disobeying the king” but honestly I didn’t have much doubt about their abilities to outwit a 14-year-old on a power trip. I also think I would’ve liked a little more about how they were going to make their relationship work. At the end of the book, they’re together, but due to the Queen’s manipulations, Marjorie and Lachlan are basically completely dependent on Janet.
Overall, this was a fun, steamy read, and I’ll definitely be looking up more of Nicola Davidson’s work!