Ritual of Proof - Dara Joy OH. MY. GOD. I just lost a gigantic review that I had written for this book. *sobs*

I will attempt to replicate it, but man alive...I feel like I just got betch-slapped by that shitty girl in the rocking chair. ARRARRRGH!

ANYWAY...my review...

Basically, this book is enjoyable enough and the sexytimes are hawt, but otherwise, it was both farking weirrrrrd and a little yawn-inducing at the same time.


The story and the world, generally.
Set in a matriarchal society on a moon called Forus, this book is basically a Regency-style book, but with gender role reversals. Our virginal hero, Jorlan, is a bluestocking with radical notions of "equal rights for men" and who's almost on the shelf at the ripe old age of 25. Our rakish heroine, Green, is a woman-about-town, a respected stateswoman, and a skilled lover who keeps a pleasurer on the Rue de la Nuit. She's a youthful 34- or 35-years-old, and she's well known for her stance on not settling down with a "name-bearer" any time soon.

However, when she meets Jorlan again after many years, she's dazzled by his wit and drawn to his amazingly firm buttocks (seriously!). She intends to woo him away from his bluestocking notions of spinsterhood. Unfortunately, she comes to hear of a plot that would put Jorlan's future in jeopardy, and so she and Jorlan's grandmother maneuver the moving pieces so that Green and Jorlan enter into a "fastening" (a.k.a. marriage) of convenience before she can even begin wooing him to her side. A majority of the story shows their getting to know each other within this marriage, his introduction to physical pleasures, her learning to be a little more flexible in terms of her expectations from her name-bearer, and their working to rout the efforts of a She-Count (whose name I conveniently kept reading as "She-Cunt" heh heh) who is Green's nemesis and who had previously had designs on having Jorlan for herself.


The Regency aspect and the farking weirrrrrrrrrrrrd/*yawn*-worthy stuff.
So, earlier I mentioned this is a Regency-style book and that's because it basically is. Setting aside the gender role reversals, the world is basically Regency mannerisms and social expectations. The heroine, Green, is a Marquelle (a.k.a. Marquess). There's also a Duchene (a.k.a. Duchess), they socialize in the "Top Slice" (a.k.a. the haut ton), the male virgins are called "come-outs" (a.k.a. debutantes), and so on. You get the picture. Once I caught on to the Regency parallelism, the world didn't seem all that weird, unique, or novel, to be honest. I was just like "yawn...okay, what comes next?"

What came next, though, were some weirrrrrrrrrrrrd things.

Like the fact that there's a male hymen.

Yup, a male hymen.

I don't quite know how it came to be, especially when one considers the men and women are supposedly humans from Originpoint (a.k.a. Earth) originally. Even if the original colonizers were all women who then used artificial means of procreating, I don't think they could have constructed a male hymen in their male specimens, could they?

The titular "Ritual of Proof" is something the name-bearer undergoes in order to prove that he's a virgin as he enters the marriage bed. I mentioned it in an earlier status update, but it bears repeating here: "...he would be made to disrobe so that three council members could verify that his veil was intact. The small membrane, which had a tiny break in it and grew over the head of his penis, could be ruptured properly only by the internal muscles and fluid from a woman's body."

Yuppppppppppppp. So basically, her acidic vag juices will melt his hymenal membrane once they penetrate for the first time.

Say it with me: Wow.

Just...wow. O__O



One thing about the weird stuff, though, is that sometimes I felt like the author just wasn't even trying to write a story. For example, there's an indigenous animal on Forus that is called "tasteslikerooster." I shit you not. That's its name. When I read that, I sort of scoffed/cringed in a baffled "please let that be a joke" way.

Basically, the world is Regency-like and also has weird fauna and flora. It got to the point that there was so much weird-but-not-really-that-weird stuff that I grew a little bored with it all.


The characters, briefly.
I liked the characters in this book. Green was strong and confident, and so was Jorlan, despite his sheltered and protected upbringing. Jorlan, with his bluestocking notions of equality for men, was a bit of a rebel in a matriarchal society. As such, he was suitably alpha enough to be a romance novel hero, regardless of his virginal and untried state. I liked that Green had the confidence to let Jorlan speak his mind and didn't try to break his spirit. They were a good, strong, sexy pairing.

The romance and the sexytimes.
I wish there had been a little more romance to show their interactions and bonding outside of the bedroom. That said, it's possible that, what with Jorlan's unique sensory capabilities, their physical interactions in the bedroom would be the sensible place to show their bonding and falling in love with each other. I can't say more without giving away spoilers. However, suffice to say that the sexytimes in this book are smoooooookin' hawt. Hott hott hotttt. Don't let the fact that Jorlan is a virgin make you think he doesn't have some moves. He's got those moooooOOOoOOOoooooves like Jagger Jorlan. ;) Too good - or bad? - of an opportunity to resist that reference.

Oh, one more thing about the male hymen and the wedding night. It's not SUPER spoilery, but I'll hide it anyway... Because of the pain that accompanies the "piercing of the veil" for the male virgin, Jorlan is tied up to the marriage bed on his wedding night. These newly-fastened (a.k.a. newly-married) men are tied up in order to prevent them from knocking the female loose from the "fastening" before the acidic vag juices completely melt the "veil" membrane on their manly bits. If they don't completely melt the veil the first time around, then they'll only go through the same agony the second time around to finish off the membrane. Yup, I shit you not. (And, yeah, I can't believe I just said that, either.) Also, another aspect of the wedding night is that, because Jorlan was a reluctant name-bearer to begin with, the wedding night - or at least the part leading up to the penetration - has an element of "forced seduction" to it. Green has to seduce Jorlan into welcoming her touch, and Jorlan resists until he, like any good bodice ripper romance heroine before him, can't resist her touch any longer.

Overall...
Entertaining enough, but the Dara Joy crazies didn't quite take it to the level I'd expected. The closing scene of the book seemed to come out of nowhere, too, so that ended it on a kinda weird note. That said, I enjoyed it well enough, and the sexytimes were gratifyingly pervy for my exacting tastes. ;)