This series first caught my attention 13 years ago and I still think of it fondly. I only read two of the four in this series and that is remiss of me. With my new resolution to whittle away my TBRPile - 100 older ones a year, this popped back up to remind me why I love this series. When it comes to tortured kinky romance, Ms. Hart is the queen.
The Order of Solace is an amazing place for women to train on how to provide solace to their patrons. The concept is phenomenal. On paper, it is incredible and perfect. In reality, this would never work because people are selfish. This story's focus is more on the tenant mentioning how a flower is more beautiful with its thorns. We start out learning about Notsah. This short preview of her before she is now a trained and experienced Handmaiden of Solace provides a nice contrast.
I loved how dedicated Notsah now renamed Demi is in this story. As a service submissive her erotic power exchange to Jarron is a thing of beauty. When Ms. Hart writes BDSM without ever using a single term or mention of it, I am always impressed. Her interactions with Jarron are erotic and sensual. There isn't graphic sex as I'm used to reading, but all of it in here is like honey... pure and silky smooth.
What dragged me down a bit about this story is the political aspects of it. I didn't really like having that gnawing fear of what would happen if the 2nd province became part of it all. The choices seemed to not be so great. I also wasn't sure I exactly liked the Queen, Caramin. She is bold. I admire what she has accomplished. I just didn't like how she treated some people. In the end, I ended up liking her and her relationship with Jarron.
This story is so much more than an erotic romance. It is at heart, a story about love, sacrifice, and service. I love it. This erotic romance is recommended to readers who want to see what selflessness means.