Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueine Carey

Kushiel's Dart is the first book in Jacqueine Carey's Kushiel's Legacy series. There are 9 books in totals and all take place in a wonderfully imagined fetishistic alternate medieval history. Here Carey shares a world where the people of Terre d'Ange (what would be France in our world) follow a simple tenet, "Love As Thou Wilt". This simple message comes from the teachings of Ellua, the son of Yeshua (God). It is told that he turned his back on his father to live a life of love and piece on Earth and was followed by eight angels, each of whom embody a human quality including knowledge, love, healing, and pride as well as punishment and sexual desires. As you might have guessed these last two play heavily into the plot ;)

In this book we follow the main protagonist Ph├Ędre begining with her coming to age and the first of her many adventures. Initially sold as a child into the service of Naamah, whose worshipers perform religious prostitution, she was thought to be imperfect and unfit because of a red mote in her eye. She is eventually "sold" to a man who recognizes the mark for what it is and thus the real adventures begin!

This story is wonderfully written with mythology and characters that have it all: love, lust, heartache, intrigue, sacrifice, sex, kinky sex, and a host of characters that are far more interesting than the typical cardboard cutouts found in most romantic and erotic fiction. It is important to point out this is a fantasy story first... a kinky one, but decidedly fantasy. This is not Fifty Shades of Grey! That being said, the world that Ms. Carey creates is at times pretentious and takes itself to seriously, but maybe that is the point? It certainly doesn't get in the way and despite the detailed mythology being intertwined into much of the plot, there are very few lulls in the action. All of this is included in a way that makes the story better rather than being confusing and long winded.

In the end I think if you read this book you will be rushing to get your hands on the next book in the series, Kushiel's Chosen as soon as possible. I know I did! I will also say that unlike some other less colorful titles out there a lot of people in the BDSM world love this book, not because it tries to give an accurate portrayal of the BDSM world but because it is intriguinh thrill-ride that has some very kinky themes. Either way I think if you open it and read it with an open mind you will love it as much as I did. Just remember the ultimate theme and that is to simply "Love As Thou Wilt".

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