The Palace Guard by Alison Shaw was a fantasy erotic novella. I liked it for the most part, but some things did bug me. Funny, because I’ve previously read more explicit stuff from this author that had things that I generally can’t stand, i.e. the H with OW etc. but didn’t mind those very much.
Let me just start the review. The story is set on a fantasy kingdom where Princess Elena is being groomed for a very prosperous match. She’s taught and trained to be the perfect wife from her childhood. Elena is a bit spoiled being the only daughter of the King and the Queen. And she’s a naïve virgin, kept that way exclusively for her future husband. Soon Elena grows up to be an 18 yrs. old girl, catching the eyes of one of the guards who have been her bodyguard for a couple of years now. He had seen her as a kid and now that she has finally grown, the Guard can’t keep his eyes off of her. But he also knows that lusting after the Princess could get him into big trouble... the offense would probably see him hanged, so the Guard, whose name is never mentioned, keeps his distance.
What he doesn’t know that the Princess has also noticed him and his intense stares when he thought no one was watching. And she’s more than willing to explore to where that might lead. A chance meeting... well, not so much ‘by chance’ but the Princess’s determination to catch the Guard off-guard so that he has no other option but to <i>show</i> her what all these bodily cravings mean. They do have a short tryst at the library that makes the Princess crave for even more. It’s a pain for the Guard because he wants the beautiful Princess, not only physically but maybe even something more... and you can guess, he’s worried of things going out of hand. So much for the worry because that happens soon enough and they end up having sex one night.
In the meantime, the Princess’s fiancé stops by to finalize the marriage talks. He’s a handsome man too. The Princess is fair in coloring and her Guard is dark. The Prince, as we find, is also fair... and soon it’s revealed, well-endowed too, much to the Guard’s disappointment, who was hoping that the Princess’s fiancé is nothing but a weak-willed fop. The Prince (his name is also not revealed) is obsessed with the beautiful Princess but it’s obvious that he’s not as gentle and caring as the Guard. The Prince has a cold pair of gray eyes, with a lust for the Princess that knows no bound. He soon realizes that the Princess is not a virgin anymore on a scene where the Guard watches him fondling the Princess from a hidden place because he wanted to talk to the Princess alone.
I really didn’t know what to expect because the story didn’t have a straightforward narrative. I certainly wasn’t expecting the Prince to become quite a solid part of it, as my initial thought was that probably somehow the Princess and the Guard will find a way, maybe escape, to be together before anything happens. But that was not to be. The rest of the story is a mixed baggage; some emotional, some hot, while some made me a little sick.
When the Prince and the Princess marry and journey towards the Prince’s homeland, they take the Guard with them because of the Prince’s insistent. There they find that the King has died and now the Prince can ascend to the throne. The Guard discovers some shocking things like how deep debauchery runs in this court. Unfortunately, he’s soon drawn into it by one woman; a persistent and vindictive one, who is also the new King’s mistress. Maybe ex-mistress now (because apparently the King wants to be faithful to his Queen) but the woman knows he’d be back into her arms sooner or later, as he always does. She’s a slut of the high order and would do anything to stay in her privileged place; her own husband doesn’t matter because he can never say anything to the King. Meanwhile, why not ‘enjoy’ the handsome Guard? And if it makes the King jealous in turn...
The Guard does have sex with this woman because he was frustrated and heartsick about the whole thing. He thought there was no way he’d have his Princess back into his life now. Though this bugged me quite a bit, I understood his stance.
We also get a glimpse of the King and the Queen’s life. Elena doesn’t love her husband but he’s a master manipulator in bed. She has no hope of resisting his touches because those drive her wild. And apparently, he is wild for her too. Elena misses her Guard with all her heart but doesn’t know what to do about it. Her relationship with her husband seemed pretty dark and (as I felt) self-destructive too. Elena longs to break free, but doesn’t know how to.
Things happen at this point and too fast. When the King finds out that his mistress is now sleeping with the Guard, he’s not mad. Instead, to the Guard’s total shock, he acknowledges it, also letting him know he finds the Guard attractive as well. I, myself, was a little surprised but there’s no M/M here, not even any hint. Next, the King makes the Guard do something with that woman and decides to watch............... That’s how Elena finds all of them together. The Guard is ashamed of himself, thinking this time all hope for him is lost because his Princess will never forgive him. But Elena is not that angry. She knows firsthand what her husband is capable of. She doesn’t like it but can’t help giving into him either.
Even as I read along, I couldn’t imagine what the final solution would be for this crazy situation. Sadly, things go wrong for them soon enough. The King travels to another place, giving Elena and her Guard a chance to be together once again. It was infidelity, if you think literally but I didn’t mind them being together because they loved each-other; a love that didn’t really have much of a chance to begin with. But that b!tch finds out somehow and doesn’t miss a second to send words to the King.
I was scared that the ending would be real bad... but there’s HEA for Elena and her Guard. How? Read it to find out. I wish this story was longer with exploration and more to the storyline because I wanted more. I still don’t know if the Prince actually loved Elena because before his death, he professes as much. It just felt insane to me, seeing how he was not very nice to her... 3.75 stars.
‘The Palace Guard’ is a freebie from smashwords.