Woven Dreams

N.J. Walters
2007, Erotic Romance
Ellora's Cave, $5.95, 230 pages, Amazon ASIN 9781419911286
Part of a series

Grade: B
Sensuality: Burning

This book is not on sale at Amazon; the price and ISBN are for its e-book page at Ellora's Cave

Woven Dreams is third in a series of erotic fantasy romances set in a world resembling Medieval Earth. In each of the first two books, Christina's Tapestry and Bakra Bride, a modern American woman buys an ancient tapestry depicting a castle and two knights that draws her into sexual dreams with the two men, only to have those dreams become a reality after they are actually transported into Javra, where "tapestry brides" are rare and cherished. Women are scarce in Javra and generally shared by two brothers, one of whom becomes the "official" husband. But that only comes after three days during which the brothers do all in their power to convince her to stay, which includes lots and lots of sex, and an obligatory threesome where both give her all she wants at the same time. I enjoyed the first two books, and though the third switches things up with a "local" heroine, I liked it as well. What makes these books more than boinkfests is that they feature interesting characters, alpha heroes who behave with tenderness and caring, and in this book more than the first two, characters who elicit not only excitement but empathy.

Jarmon Bakra was nearly killed in a battle a year ago (detailed in Bakra Bride). Scarred and maimed, he is missing two fingers and one of his legs is permanently weakened. He is not the man he once was, and he fears he and his twin brother Garrik will never find a bride.

Genita Craddock's vicious brothers were responsible for Jarmon's injuries, but after the battle that left two of her brothers dead, many family allies deserted the Craddocks. In their reduced circumstances the Craddock brothers plan to give her to the equally heinous Luther brothers. This is simply too much for her to handle, and with the help of the one brother who has quietly tried to protect her over the years, she escapes, taking with her very little beside the tapestry she has painstakingly labored over for three years. Genny may not be a "typical" tapestry bride, but once she is found in Bakra territory by Jarmon and Garrik, she pretends to be, out of fear that they will hate her because of her family connections.

Neither brother truly believes her story, but they are enchanted with her nonetheless. On the off chance that she is a tapestry bride, they set about wooing her. They treat her lovingly, and with incredibly steamy sex. The lash marks on her back horrify them; it's clear somebody has beaten her badly, and they are as determined to protect her as they are to hold those responsible accountable for hurting her. When she runs from them - as she does after the three days are up - they locate her quickly and demand the truth. She gives it to them and is shocked that her Craddock kinship does not deter their desire for her. But she doesn't want to bring trouble to Bakra castle. Though Jarmon and Garrik are hurt that she didn't trust them with the truth - or that they could handle whatever danger her brothers pose - they love her and she loves them. Incredible to Jarmon is that his battle scars and missing and maimed body parts don't lessen his appeal in Genny's eyes. As Garrik says late in the story, "You are both wounded souls that call to each other. You understand one another better than any other can."

The remainder of the story goes pretty much as you'd expect; after her introduction to the Bakra family, Genny can't believe their acceptance of her, and in return, they are pleased to see how fiercely she cares for Jarmon. The twins do battle with two of the Craddock brothers and then it's time for Genny to decide whether Jarmon or Garrik will be her "main" man. This is not a small point; the brother not chosen often feels the odd man out in a very sad way. While the heroine in Christina's Tapestry for instance, loved the two men she ended up with, the second brother knew her feelings for him were different than her feelings for his brother, and he suffered as a result. It didn't really impact the story because it didn't occur until the end, but all involved are aware of the possibility for its causing pain in both sequels.

This is an erotic fantasy romance, heavy on the eroticism, and heavy on the fantasy of it all. The bottom line is this: A reader must be able to accept the premise on which the book is based, that women are shared within families so as to avoid the sort of violence that might occur in a land wherein men significantly outnumber women. If a reader can do that, than accepting that three people can fall in love within three days is conceivable.

Each of the first two books in this series earned B-'s from me. I liked Woven Dreams even better (although the cover is horrendous) because of the stronger emotional content and look forward to Threads of Destiny, which is supposed to be published later this year.

-- Laurie Likes Books

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