Reading Journal Entry: A Brother's Price by Wen Spencer

Wen Spencer's Tinker and Wolf Who Rules were pretty good as self-indulgent mind candy goes. I decided to check out the rest of her oevre.

A Brother's Price is alternate history that plays with gender roles. We've got late 17th century levels and men are far and few between. It's never made quite clear.

Men are scarce and family structure has changed to reflect the fact that one man can sire children on multiple women. Sisters live together and share a husband; sons are traded for a husband for the next generation or sold to other families.

Men are so valuable they are often stolen and must be protected, rarely appearing in public and always guarded. Women fulfill all of the public roles in society, and raising babies and cooking is considered 'men's work'.

Jerin is the oldest son in a large family of landed gentry about to come of age and afraid of being traded to the hickseed girls next door. He's a sweet guy, loves kids, cooks well, and was taught expert sexual techniques handed down by his grandfather the kidnapped prince (even though he's still a virgin). He's breathtakingly beautiful. Luckily for Jerin, his family is pulled into involvement with the Royal Family (and my, it is a whole family of women sharing power) and the Eldest Princess just happens to develop a huge crush on him after he lets her touch his naughty bits in the farmhouse kitchen.

Spencer is able to even build in a 'virginity' clause for men by including a rabid fear of disease.

While this is well-constructed to foreshadow plot points and explore some of the male-female issues, there are times when it seems a little mechanical. I got the feeling Spencer had a checklist about sexual stereotypes and was checking off items as she went along. 'Men have long hair - check. Jerin is described as beautiful instead of handsome - check. Female whores with dildos - check.' Etc.

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