I had expected this book to be The Three Musketeers with more (explicit) sex than the original as well as a side-note of d’Artagnan being worried about developing feelings for more than one person (in the original he is rather blasé about that).
A closer look at the blurb might have stopped me from thinking this but my brain just stops working as soon as the word Musketeer appears somewhere. At least that’s what I tell myself because otherwise I would have no apology for watching The Ring of the Musketeers. Ehem. Back to topic. Because it is not that kind of book. It is pure, unapologetic smut, set in a parallel universe where everybody wants sex all the time and has sex all the time:
- Treville having special ideas about what d’Artagnan could do to speed up his Musketeer application? Check.
- Athos demanding a different kind of compensation when d’Artagnan runs into him? Check.
Musketeer-initiation orgies? Check.
- Constance/d’Artagnan/Queen Anne-threesome? Check.
- d’Artagnan/Milady/Athos-BDSM-threesome? Check.
And…that’s great if you like that kind of stuff. Only: I don’t. Not much. I do have to hand it to the authors that most of the sex-scenes are rather well-written. There is the odd weird metaphor (drinking the sweet nectar of her delta and the inevitable battling tongues) but even as someone who is often very nitpicky about sex-scenes I didn’t have that much to complain about.
Except, well, the sheer mass of them. Constant sex-scenes do not make me feel anything except boredom. And they really are constant. The author went through the original novel and asked about every scene ‘can I add sex to that?’ If the answer was yes she did and if the answer was no it got summed up in a few sentences or skipped completely. Which lead to one occasion where they referred to something that happened only in the original novel but not in Ménage á Musketeer. (To be fair: I assume a grand total of one person noticed that). I also wonder how Athos managed to have a hardcore BDSM-relationship with Milady but still never noticed that she had a Fleur de lis-brandmark on her shoulder. (This by the way falls under ‘sentences I never thought I’d write in a review ever’).
There is also another issue: consent.
And yes, I am aware that this is smut. Smut set in an alternate reality where everybody is always horny. Which I would have been fine with if the author had gone all the way through with this. Pretended that situations where one partner wants sex and the other didn’t exist at all. But she didn’t. There is some lip-service paid to the fact that perhaps not everybody might be comfortable with everything when Aramis informs d’Artagnan before his initiation orgy that he can say no at any time. (‘Sentences I never thought I’d write in a review ever’ #2).
In a realistic context the power-dynamics of this situation would have been so screwed that nobody would have dared to refuse. But we aren’t in a realistic context. We’re in smut fantasy land where everybody is willing all the time anyway. At least on-screen. Milady’s past gets a redemption-retcon: she did not seduce a priest into fleeing with her, she fled alone because he tried to rape her. Now I don’t mind at all that Milady gets turned into a good character. But the way how it is done here combined with what kind of book it is just very unfortunate.
All that combined with the fair number of typos (among other things d’Artagnan is sometimes spelled ‘D’Artagnan’) the book is simply not that overwhelming. If you’re searching for pure Porn (almost) without plot you could do worse. But also better (and I am guessing a lot of it for free on AO3…). And for me decent sex-scenes alone just aren’t enough.