While we all know giving up everything to please a man is a Very Bad Thing, perhaps it's true that there's power in sacrifice.  And maybe there are ways of dedicating oneself to a man's needs which require no loss of self at all, and score a girl a big ol' payoff in the bargain.  That's somewhat at the heart of the service provided by the handmaidens who are heroines of Megan Hart's new Order of Solace historical fantasy/romance series.

The Handmaidens of the Order of Solace experience a kind of religious calling.  Each time a handmaiden uses her particular skills and attributes to provide a patron with spiritual "solace," many believe she helps a family of deities return to the mortal realm from a kind of heaven.  A handmaiden is trained to serve her patron in whatever way most pleases the man or woman, but she isn't a courtesan.  Because of certain tenets of the Order which teach a handmaid that it's selfish to think of her needs first, the handmaiden's wishes are not considered, though each handmaiden sets unique boundaries in terms of physical, emotional and sexual interaction.

Though this scenario might sound like a nightmare of women submitting to "heal" men, it's actually one of the most distinctive, edgy, entertaining and erotic set-ups to come 'round the romance stacks in some time.  A kind of mash up of everything we love about historical fiction and the contemporary self-determination we long for in our heroines, Hart's handmaiden's tales are surprising in their inventiveness and vigor.  Handmaidens submit only to their choice to serve their religion by employing their training to accomplish their goal; we learn their motivations are deeply seated and eventually afford each handmaiden satisfaction on some level and, ultimately, the choice to accept love.

Since the Order of Solace novels are created by Megan Hart, expect deft writing, fever-pitched sensuality and laser-sharp creativity.  The anthology "Pleasure and Purpose  " tells three handmaiden's tales of leading a conflicted trio of life-long friends toward succor by very different paths, and with handmaiden and patron offering varying enthusiasm in following or succumbing.  "No Greater Pleasure  ," a stand-alone novel, creates a broader, more intense, yet still romantic world in which handmaid and patron strive to temper their needs on many levels as the patron's wife's emotional illness wrecks havoc on their lives.

In what ways do you think a heroine serving a hero might gain her power?  What are some of your favorite Megan Hart reads?

Click here to check out dish on Robyn Carr's upcoming "Forbidden Falls" at Unabashedly Bookish as we explore when it's OK for heroes to save the day.

by PrincessBumblebee on ‎10-07-2009 02:28 PM

Hey, QB! You are one busy woman today! I've figured out that it'll only let me comment if I sign in physically, then reply to someone else's post. Strange, but it works, hehe.

Well, I don't really care for the whole submissive handmaiden thing, myself, but this sounds intriguing. Especially if she thinks she's doing so for the greater good, as it were. I might have to pick up a Megan Hart novel.

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎10-07-2009 04:10 PM

Wow, these sound really different -- I'll have to check them out.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎10-07-2009 04:55 PM

hey, princess!  It's funny how we all learn little tricks to sign on and in.  I really was intrigued by this premise, too, and knew it was most likely going to work because Hart is such a great author.   The thing that makes the books/individual handmaids kind of amazing, is how differently each approaches her work/goal, what she receives from it, and how her patrons are brought toward 'solace' from it.

Hart's contemporaries are rather striking, so I also was curious about how she'd develop this historical/fantasy mythology. I've gotta say it's so entertaining to 'live' in the handmaids' world, and feel the shift when sensibilities change from historical elements romance readers readily identify with to new mythology and on to very contemporary display of "women's intuitive" power.   It's a bit like Hart's reminding us that we may think we've created women rocking dominance in the last decades, but there's nothing new under the sun, and women have understood for a long time how to get men, in this case, to whip into shape.


Not sayin that's what she was going for, just that's how I enjoyed reading it.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎10-07-2009 05:03 PM

I know you like erotic romance, becke, and I think you'll dig the historical and fantasy elements.  I really should clarify the handmaidens aren't courtesans, though the nature of thier possibly using having sexual relationships w/their patrons is attractive and, Megan Hart being the talented erom author, obviously is going to give us great emotion-infused sensuality.

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎10-07-2009 07:33 PM

Makes me think of the Chosen in the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward. Definitely want to read these!

by AuthorM on ‎10-07-2009 09:54 PM

Hellllllo, Michelle! Thanks so much for this article.


I'm glad you enjoyed the Handmaidens -- the first two are different, yet the same, and with two more to come I hope readers enjoy the series enough to be excited about discovering this new world I had a BLAST creating!


I think the idea of dominance and submission, power exchange, is so compelling, and even though not EVERY Handmaiden enters into a D/S situation with her patrons, every relationship between Handmaiden and patron has elements of power exchange. Not necessarily always sexual.


I just completed the third Order of Solace book, tentatively called Selfish is the Heart, and I had so much fun writing it. I guess I sort of have a thing for brooding heroes who need just the right woman to help them heal.


I would like to point out that the books will all vary in sensuality from pretty erotic to more sensual, but I believe all the Order of Solace novels will be romances. Hero, Heroine, struggles and discovery...and love!


Thanks again to everyone who made such nice comments. I hope you give the books a chance. And thanks again, Michelle, for letting me know you were writing about the books.



by Author MonicaBurns on ‎10-08-2009 12:48 PM

Princess - You have to sign in TWICE to get in easily. Sign into the main site and then on the bar that says Book Clubs, there's another Sign In link. If you post enough it should keep you signed in. At least it does for me.


Michelle, These two books sound really cool. I think I'll have to check out the anthology first.  Thanks for sharing this, because it seems SO different. And I love different!



by Moderator becke_davis on ‎10-08-2009 04:53 PM

Princess! You're here -- that didn't sink in when I posted yesterday!


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