Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: June 19, 2019
Received From: Review requested by the author
The Countess of Starfordia, a depraved succubus, terrorizes the countryside as she drains the vitality from sacrifices with her voracious carnal appetite. When Celandine’s friend-with-benefits is selected as the Countess’s next servant, Celandine volunteers in her place. A priestess-in-training, Celandine loves to submit to the will of her gods… and to play exquisitely painful games of dominance and submission. She’s confident that her faith and her sensual nature will enable her to perform whatever tasks are expected of her.
Taken to an enchanted castle, Celandine meets the Countess’s captured pets: Tikara, a brave knight trapped in a permanent state of desire, and Wraith, a darkly beautiful warlock suffering under a mysterious curse. Even as Celandine challenges herself to endure humiliating torments at the Countess’s hands, she finds unexpected love with her fellow prisoners. Only by working together will Celandine, Tikara, and Wraith be able to break the Countess’s sensual spells.
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: homoromantic
PAIRING: F/F/F, polyamory
TROPES: magical abilities, love/lust in captivity, instalove
TAGS: adult, fantasy, romance, erotica, erotic romance, disabled character (chronic pain), ownvoices, BDSM
WARNINGS: sexual content, dubious consent, captivity, slurs, gendered slurs, ableism
This is a short, sexy story that unfortunately doesn’t quite deliver on all the promises it makes with the blurb.
THE TRIAL OF THREE is absolutely an erotic novella and delivers quite fully on that aspect of the story. One part that it does not, however, is the romance. The main character and two love interests barely know each other, making the professions of love questionable at best. Because while the love interests have known each other for years and, thus, have a foundation for the love to be believable, but the main character and they have only known each other for a matter of days by the time the story ends. Which brings me to another aspect involving them that seemed a bit suspect–they trust each other right away. Considering Wraith and Tikara have been captives for several years, it seemed strange that they were so quick to trust Celandine. Likewise, it was weird to me that Celandine would trust the two of them so rapidly due to the fact that they have spent so much time with the evil Countess and are likely to be deeper under her spell. I believe that they might’ve formed bonds and trust over time, but after less than a day? It doesn’t compute. Additionally, it’s very weird that the one random victim Celandine helps is so ready to put her trust in someone who’s presumably a servant of the Countess, and not only that, but she’s immediately ready to have sex with Celandine after she’s been so messed up by the Countess.
Another aspect where the book doesn’t deliver is on the plot. While the novella is clearly an erotica, the blurb indicates that there will be some kind of plot that involves taking down the evil Countess. And that does happen but it’s so anticlimactic and generally unsatisfying. There is no depth to the story and little to no explanation into the inner workings of the world Meyers has created, leaving the reader with a sense that the worldbuilding is lackluster at best. There’s very little explanation as to how the Countess came to be the person she is today, how she became the terror of the countryside. The Countess specifically says that she wanted Celandine all along, but…why? Because she’s a priestess? It’s never clarified. And the religious/mythological aspect is never explored with any depth. Who is the goddess Celandine worships? Why does she worship her? Is she a universal goddess for the rest of the world she’s in? Nothing is ever explained and the lack of detail was enough to leave me disinterested.
Related to that–everything is super abrupt and doesn’t really make sense in any logical way. There’s next to no connection from topic to topic, and the story jumps all over the place. And as far as formatting goes, the different sections are not broken up enough to indicate different scenes, so it ends up becoming long, endless streams that make the shifts feel even more abrupt.
While this story was certainly sexy, it doesn’t provide the depth of plot that is promised by the book’s premise, making it a disinteresting and disappointing read.
Lia Meyers is a nonbinary lesbian writing weird erotica to help cope with dysphoria and PTSD.