Synopsis: Purchased by a dangerous, blood-thirsty Queen before she is even in her teens, Daniella joins the ranks of Queen Anca's "servantettes," charming and pampered young ladies-in-waiting. She uses her enchanting ways and cunning intellect to gain the Queen's favor and survive in a world gone mad.
But when she comes of age, Daniella must face the ceremony required of all new adults in the Court of the Queen of Persia: initiation at the hands of the Priest of Discipline into the Order Sangre. She prays she can prove herself well enough to survive the dark and erotic ritual.
But Daniella has a secret: her family still follows the Old Religion, and in a weak moment, she is unable to shield her mind from the probings of the Queen. Her worship at the Mass of her beloved Old Religion is discovered -an act of heresy punishable by death.
From her childhood, Daniella has loved the Imperial Prince of the Eastern Crown, son of the Empress Regina. He is the one person Daniella has ever seen Queen Anca bow before, and the Queen's fear of Nikolai is the only thing staying her hand from requiring the ultimate penalty of Daniella, whom she now regards as a heretic. He has promised to return and claim her as his agonie aperitiv - his “appetizer” who derives pleasure from pain. He does return, but not before she experiences the greatest grief and loss in her short life. Worse, his rescue only delivers her to his mother, the Empress Regina, who insists she must birth an heir to the kingdom or be hanged.
In a world full of fear and horror and blood, love scalds her with arousal and longing but no relief. Is the Imperial Prince Nikolai her savior, or has he only delivered her to a hell filled with treachery, religious wars, and a kingdom ready to revolt? Will she ever know love and peace in her prince's arms?
Publisher's Note: Originally published as "The Vampire's Lash," by Nattie Jones, this darkly-erotic romantic adventure contains BDSM elements and some violence.
First line: I loved the queen as a puppy loves its master.
Stats for my copy: E-book, published by Blushing Books, 2013. I won this book from the author after participating in Ana'sAdvent Calendar.
My thoughts: I LOVE that opening line.
I've kind of drifted away from vampire romance lately, having gotten a little burned out I guess. And the world of royalty and court has never been one of my favorite genres. But this is not your typical vampire romance. It's a strange world, where vampires rule. Daniella has been a favorite of the Queen of Persia since she was a child. Queen Anca is an evil ruler, and in Persia there is no freedom of religion. Everyone must worship in the Order Sangre, the vampire religion.
When Daniella is 12, Prince Nikolai comes to visit Queen Anca. His mother, the Empress of the Eastern Crown, wants heirs one day, and it is decided that he will come back to fetch Daniella when she is of age.
There's a lot of court and church intrigue, oppression of humans, and whipping. Each court has a disciplinarian, who's job is to administer punishment. At Empress Regina's court it's Lord Vali, the Court Chastiser. Charming, often respectful, I found him to be very intriguing and was more interested in him than in Prince Nikolai. Daniella is also drawn to him, or rather to his crops and paddles. She dreads punishment yet yearns for it at the same time. Prince Nikolai spanks her, and she constantly hopes for him to do so again.
It took me a little while to get into the overall story, but somewhere about halfway through I realized I didn't want to put it down. It would be late, I'd be sleepy, but I would think “just one more chapter”. Then when I reached the end of a chapter and glimpsed the next one I would find myself continuing on. Daniella is not a heroine I can relate to, I can't imagine actually wanting to be on the receiving end of a crop. But I was certainly rooting for her to get a happy ending.
And I've already purchased the second book, which just from reading the blurb I think I'm going to like even more.
In the Court of the Empress Regina in London, the child of Princess Consort Daniella and Imperial Prince Nikolai has been born, and Daniella's long-time servant Kiana is the child's beloved nursemaid. Dark forces, however, are at work and tragedy strikes: Kiana's father is killed saving Daniella from an assassin, leaving Kiana friendless at the Court, at the mercy of the dark rulers. Worse, Kiana's brother Galen is alone, still in Persia, in the clutches of evil Queen Anca.
Kiana realizes she must save her brother, no matter what the cost, but her attempts at leaving the court are ill-fated; she is caught both trying to steal jewels to finance the escape, and then caught in the escape attempt itself. Yet, against all expectation, the Prince helps Kiana. He could have turned her over to the dark discipline of the priests of the Order Sangre, or even have had her executed; instead, he leaves all behind and make her a devil's bargain: submit to him in every way, and he himself will take her back to Persia himself.
Kiana has no choice but to agree, even though it means putting herself at the mercy of Imperial Prince Andrew. And soon, Kiana finds herself no different than her mistress: an agonie aperitiv - an "appetizer" of pain - to a dark vampire Prince.
But unlike her mistress, she could never learn to love one such as he. Could she?
Publisher's note: The Prince's Tawse is an erotic romance of love and loss in a future world gone mad, a world in which vampires and humans co-exist. It contains erotic BDSM themes, including spanking and anal punishment.