Yo…what did I just read?
What the hell did I just read?
…and why did I enjoy it so much?
Lurielle, Silva and Ris are elves. Not the type who wield magic and go on quests, though–no, these elvin lasses have good degrees, engineering jobs and nice condos in a comfortable, progressive, multispecies community. They’re all also very unlucky in love. Instead of downloading a dating app, the ladies book a girl’s trip to a — wait for it — an all-nude, orcish swinger’s resort. Sexy shenanigans ensue, and surprisingly, the ladies find exactly what they need, not just what they think they want.
Y’all know I am a connoisseur of the unusual and far-out, but I really didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did. I thought it’d be a fun-to-hate read to clear out the cobwebs between more serious books but it’s enjoyable in its own right. The three elves have really sympathetic emotional arcs and the encounters and relationships they have are sweetly rendered.
Monster romance is a thing now (I had no idea) and in a way, it’s quite clever. Casting elves, orcs, and goblins(ew) in a story like this makes the polyam/sex positive/nude resort aspects of this unremarkable by default. There’s no room to be judgemental once you’ve read a few paragraphs describing fangy kisses and all the different shades of green on giant swinging orc bits.
I’ve seen a few reviews of monster romance that theorize that the genre is a social response to attempts to reinstitute control over feminine sexuality in some places. I don’t know that it’s entirely that deep, but if the whole genre embraces both weirdness and genuine emotion like this book, I can definitely see why it’s gaining in popularity.
That said, there is an unfortunate (and I think unintentional) bit of ethnic coding here. While they’re called elves and orcs, let’s be real–the elves are pretty much just stand-ins for suburban white women trying to get a little wild and crazy interracial action for the weekend because the corporate types back home aren’t cutting it. While the orcs are given Celtic cultural markers, the way they’re described–big, brutish, impossibly well-endowed, and hypersexual while also besotted with these very (white-coded) classy, socially desirable but slightly too fat or independent or whatever for their own polite society ladies who clearly fetishize them was…kinda uncomfortable.
But then there’d be a paragraph about somebody [redacted] with their giant technicolor [redacted] while [redacted] and I’d realize that this is a book about a nude orc resort and move on. Romantic books often do this to tap into our socially installed wiring regarding attraction because it can be comforting, just like the love-by-the-numbers stories. It’s a convention of the genre, but I never like it when I notice it. I noticed it big time here.
Also, the steam level is extremely high in this book, sometimes veering towards ridiculous. Some of the characters are literal monsters and sudden mentions of fangs, wings, or purple skin make some of the scenes (unintentionally?) hilarious.
This was a silly summer read with some unexpected depth. Four stars and a fanged kiss to Girl’s Weekend.
(This would probably make a great beach reach, beautiful people. If you’re interested in this or other unusual romance novels, check out the lists on the Equal Opportunity Bookshop. We have an affiliate relationship with Bookshop, so any purchases made there from clicks you make here will result in a commission being paid. Now go read something good. Peace!)