Great in the bedroom, but missing a spark

Hers To Command: 1 (Verdantia) - Patricia A. Knight

My Initial Reaction…

Hers to Command excelled as an erotic novel, but the characters, dialogue, and plot just couldn’t quite keep up with the bedroom scenes. If you don’t need much story for your erotica, you’ll probably love it. I do, so for me Hers to Command was just ok.

The Characters…

The first main character we meet is Ari DeTano. Ari is one of the aristocrats that has been bred to be “magickally-gifted” in performing the rites of their planet, Verdantia. See, Verdantia is a strange planet; she cares for her people by connecting with certain gifted persons through sexual rites that do things, like give power or put up forcefields. Apparently Ari is one of the most gifted, but he’s rebellious. He doesn’t like being bred like animals, so he’s a bit difficult. But when he performs rituals (because he doesn’t seem to have a problem with being paired, just bred) he’s a whole different person. He cares deeply for his partner and takes care of her (or him). On the surface I liked Ari. But for me, he didn’t have much going on behind the surface and I didn’t grow attached to him at all.

The second main character we meet is Doral, Ari’s subordinate and a skilled assassin. Doral is the only truly complex character in Hers to Command. We get bits and pieces of him as the story evolves and then bam! we suddenly get his whole history and he becomes a central character. That was a bit jarring, but I did like him for the most part. As an assassin he’s feared and he has a past that has clearly scarred him, physically and emotionally. Seeing him grow emotionally was nice, though I really wanted more. There’s some big moments that I felt like were supposed to be highly emotional and big steps in his growth, but unfortunately the dialogue really didn’t work and it just fell flat for me.

The final key character is the Royal Highness Fleur. Due to warfare, Fleur is the last remaining female on the planet with the ability to perform the sacred rites so crucial to Verdantia. But she’s also very inexperienced and only partially trained. When we meet her, she’s preparing to perform the Great Rite with Ari, and it’s clear that this is going to be a high-risk endeavor for her. She could easily descend into madness through the rigor and self-control the rite requires and normally someone of her level would never perform the rite, but she’s the only choice. There were things I really liked about Fleur. She’s clearly strong willed and devoted to her people. She’s got a lot of pressure to deal with, but she’s bearing up admirably. I didn’t like the way her inexperience was always at the fore; she seemed to act weaker/more innocent than she really was as if that made her more attractive. For me, that made her annoying.

I feel like I’ve been harsh with the characters, but I am a character driven reader. I like my characters to have depth, to be complex, and to develop a great deal over the course of the book and I just didn’t feel like Hers to Command fully delivered that.

The Story…

The plot was definitely better than the character development. The story centers around efforts to save Verdantia from the brutal consequences of a vicious, ongoing war with the Haarb. The world building was pretty good; the prologue lays everything out about the situation and Verdantia – it was a bit rough and hard to follow, but once the story gets going it starts to fall into place and I started to understand things that hadn’t really made sense to me when I initially read the prologue. It’s really a fairly unique concept and I did enjoy that the sex has an actual purpose (especially considering it’s erotica). The Haarb have devastated Verdantia, all but obliterating their female population, while capturing and selling even more of their population into slavery. Verdantia needs a miracle and their hoping that the necessary genes might have finally come together to rescue them.

So this is an erotica novel and the greatest attention has been given to the sex scenes. There is some action and intrigue but more than anything the sexual rituals carry the story. I know they were the reason I kept reading. They were wonderfully written and very very steamy. Not only were these scenes marvelously creative (including menage-a-trois action), but because it’s sex to save Verdantia, they also propel the story forward in significant ways. I like that sex meant something more than just sex for the sake of sex. The one downfall for me is one the characters get too chatty and start sharing their emotions. The pet names were annoying and the emotional confessions were awkward at best; I wanted to roll my eyes (maybe I did). So basically I wanted them to shut up and get on with it! This is where a little better character development probably would have gone a long way.

There was absolutely no mystery to the story – for some readers that might be a good thing. I like to be kept on my toes, trying to guess at what’s going to happen, so I was disappointed on that front.

Concluding Sentiments…

So the characters aren’t well-developed and the plot has is only ok, but the world-building is pretty good and the sex is incredible. Considering that this is an erotica novel, I think that’s pretty good.