Bridgewater Menage Series Book 1: Their Kidnapped Bride by Vanessa Vale

Make no mistake, this western historical romance was the worst book I had the displeasure to read in 2016, has a place on my online list of The Worst Romance Novels I Have Ever Read, and Vanessa Vale is on the Avoid at All Costs list I maintain in my noggin.

Emma James is sold to a brothel by her evil step-brother. Given a choice between paying off the cost of her purchase by working as a prostitute or being auctioned off as a bride, she chooses the latter. I’ll let Amazon take it from there: One look at Emma James and Whitmore Kane and Ian Stewart know she would belong to them. Marriage was the only way to truly claim her… they return to the Bridgewater Ranch and teach her the ways to please not one husband, but two.

Not just badly written, Their Kidnapped Bride is one of the vilest, most offensive romances I have had to draw on an iron will to finish, and I’m pretty sure it was actually just a novella. Never mind the threesome aspect of the plot – that’s a “to each their own” element – the story itself is a bizarre alt-right, meninist fantasy entrenched in patronizing, misogynistic notions of “female empowerment” wherein so-called female power derives from gladly subjugating herself completely to the husbands who know best what she needs and what will fulfill her.

Kane and Ian served together in a fabricated Middle-Eastern-sounding country based on ethnic stereotypes, Mohamir, and learned from their way of life that women are most satisfied in plural marriages in which all authority and obedience is given to her husbands. Contentment and happiness come from her acceptance of subservience to the men and their roles, in turn, of providing protection and sexual gratification. With constant refrains of “good girl”, Emma is treated like a child, humiliated, and physically punished to learn her place and soon she is a desperately begging for sex and seeking to keep her men sated. Nothing belongs to Emma, not her body, not even her pleasure. It is theirs to command and control.

Conveniently for the ongoing series, the threesome lives in a community in which all of the men served in the same unit as Kane and Ian and their relationships are also based on the sharing of a wife. At her first meal, Emma meets Ann and learns what awaits her. For an acquiescent woman, even eating supper is an opportunity for to prove her worth and joy by deciding she needs sex too badly to concentrate on eating.  Her men reward her with what she needs. In this way, the story alternates between erotica, shards of plot, and discomfiting juxtapositions of carnal relations and submissiveness.

I did read another menage a trois romance this year, Home for Three, and it was awful as well, but in a completely different way. Links to my other reviews (including books worth reading) can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Sidebar: For once, I approve of the limited WordPress dictionary. It doesn’t recognize “meninist” as a word.

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