Title: Stand and Deliver
Author: Scarlet Blackwell
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 102 Pages
At a Glance: A lusty and erotic guilty pleasure read.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: A tale of dark, dangerous highwaymen and the man they take captive.
When Lucien Mayer, 14th Earl of Ravensberry is taken hostage by a gang of highwaymen, he is drawn to the damaged, reclusive Ambrosius and the dangerous, brooding Dante. Torn between escaping and satisfying his body’s needs, his life will never be the same again.
Publisher’s Note: This book has previously been published under the same title. It has been expanded, revised and re-edited for re-release with Pride Publishing.
Review: Scarlet Blackwell’s Stand and Deliver was originally published back in 2009 by Total-e-Bound, before they were Totally Bound, before they were Pride Publishing. I read the book in its original incarnation way back when, when I was still a relative newbie to the gay romance genre but was more than familiar by then with Blackwell’s work. And to that I’ll add that my experiences with this author’s work over the years have been both hit and miss. If you’re familiar, then you know she has a formula. She has a tendency to write at least one of her protagonists as a bit of…dare I say…I’ll whisper it…an arse? But, there’s usually a good enough reason for his behavior, and then, of course, she sets about making him fall in love—at which point he usually redeems himself, if not entirely endears himself, to readers by the end of the book.
I wanted to get my hands on this reworked version of Stand and Deliver because I remember liking it the first time around, and I wanted to see what had changed, or whether the book had changed enough, that I’d recommend it to readers who’d already read and liked it in its original format. More on that in a moment, though.
First off I’ll say this novella is Erotic Fantasy—no apologies, no denying it. Not fantasy in a supernatural way but fantasy of the sort where one imagines themselves as the hero/heroine of a story, being kidnapped and ravished by a handsome marauder who falls madly in love with us (see: my pirate fetish), helpless against his charms. This fantasy, in particular, involves a band of land-bound pirates–highwaymen, to be more precise–who travel under cover of darkness, chasing down horse-drawn carriages, preying upon the wealthy with demands of, “Stand and deliver! Your money or your life!” If one was lucky, one surrendered a few baubles and coins, then was set free, virtue intact.
Lucien Mayer, 14th Earl of Ravensberry, the robbery and kidnapping victim in the story, is hardly a damsel in distress, nor is he hardly concerned about his virtue, as he is instantly drawn to and insanely in lust with two of his captors—one he could potentially love, the other he despises in spite of the fact he shares his body with Dante time and time again—with Ambrosius in the bed and without.
Though there isn’t much plot woven in with the erotic content of Stand and Deliver, there is a certain poignancy to the story which plucks at our empathy and helps to perhaps soothe a few of our qualms about accepting that Lucien falls so quickly for Ambrosius, with little supporting reason behind it. Lucien lives a lonely and seemingly aimless existence, Ambrosius is in deep mourning, Dante’s hiding a rather explosive secret, and both Ambrosius and Dante are warring with their emotions—Ambrosius with grief and guilt, Dante with grief and anger and bitterness and regret. Lucien doesn’t make it easy on himself either, being drawn to these two men, one emotionally and the other in a purely physical way. But, that’s Lucien’s story and he’s sticking to it, come hell or highwaymen.
Now, back to the story’s revisions. Has Stand and Deliver changed enough to purchase and read it again, if you’ve already read it in its original format? No, I don’t think so. Other than perhaps some polishing of the prose, which I noticed as I skimmed through my original copy of the book, this story is the same. If you haven’t read the book, would I recommend it? Well, as always, that depends upon the individual: do you like a little plot with your sex, or a little sex with your plot? Do you fancy historical erotica? Do you like threesomes? And snarling and sexy, slightly difficult to like men, two of whom do get their happy ending, with the third looking as though he may get his own sequel? If you don’t mind a little plot with your sex, among all those other things, then Stand and Deliver is a guilty pleasure read that stands and delivers.
You can buy Stand and Deliver here: