"The Sting of Victory," by S. D. Simper
Dark Fantasy / Horror / Lesbian Romance
When Flowridia, a witch granted power by an unknown demon, deceives an alluring foreign diplomat, she is promoted to a position of power to conceal her falsehood. Thrust into a world of politics and murderous ambition, she has her gentle heart and her Familiar to guide her – as well as a drunk Celestial with a penchant for illusion.
Meanwhile, Lady Ayla Darkleaf, Grand Diplomat of Nox’Kartha, smiles with predatory charm and wields her blades with a dancer’s grace. Flowridia falls into a toxic love affair, one she knows will end in heartbreak. But as Ayla’s legacy as a vampiric creature unfolds, Flowridia begins to see the broken woman behind the monster.
When a foreign emperor dies at the hands of a mysterious interloper, one who seeks to collect the greatest sources of power in the realms, Flowridia’s kingdom is charged to stop him. But Flowridia’s devotion is torn between duty to her own and the woman whose claws grip her heart.
In the ensuing clash of Gods, Flowridia must choose her loyalties with care – the fates of kingdoms rest in her hands.
Rarely am I left at a loss for words, but this week’s read has me solidly in the land of where do I begin? The Sting of Victory by S.D. Simper is a lot of things all rolled into one. The tagline, “A Dark Fantasy Lesbian Romance” is a perfect descriptor, and yet somehow manages to leave a few important nuances out.
This is the second review I’ve done for this author and I was champing at the bit to get my hands on this book. The first story I read was Carmilla & Laura, a lesbian Victorian romance with vampires and intrigue for days. It had me salivating for more, which meant I snagged The Sting of Victory as soon as I opened my blog to all LGBTQ+ genres.
However, this read still managed to exceed my expectations. As I said, it is a lot of things, all crammed into one beautifully crafted story. Allow me to explain what I mean. First and foremost, this is an epic fantasy—both in length and quality. I was straight up floored by the level of detail Ms. Simper put into the world, including masterful political intrigue, compelling character factions, and cleverly varied personalities. She has a wonderfully unique take on magic, and developed a world filled with every creature your little fantasy-loving heart could desire, from elves to demons to gods to witches and beyond.
Then there is the “dark” part. Make no mistake, this story means it when it says dark. It dives deep, at times going so far as to leave me squirming, flushed, and uncomfortable in my own skin. It’s categorized partially as horror for a reason, folks. But then, some of said dark is portrayed with a humorous note, which found me laughing out loud and clapping a hand over my mouth in self-mortification. More than once I wondered whether I should or shouldn’t be laughing. At the end of the day? I think Ms. Simper fully intended the uncomfortable humor as a means to normalize those moments your brain otherwise rebels against. It was weaved into the story so well and with such obvious care, there’s no way it was done by chance.
But beneath the fantasy and horror, a simmering love story brews. One that left me uneasy and completely unsure how to feel. Not because Ms. Simper failed, but because she succeeded so very, very well.
I would highly recommend this to anyone who adores fantasy, but who isn’t afraid of a little horror and dark humor in their lives. The relationship between the main characters is gorgeously portrayed and will undoubtedly leave any lesbian romance lovers satisfied, while also making them question the very fabric of their being. Trust me, my lovelies, this is one helluva roller coaster ride you’d be remiss to avoid!
So, what are you waiting for? The Sting of Victory is available for your immediate reading pleasure. It’s also available on Kindle Unlimited! But the best part? Book two in the Fallen Gods series, entitled Among Gods and Monsters, is also available. You will be very, very, very grateful for that, as book one leaves you on a cliffhanger that’ll have you glaring at your eReader in frustrated desperation for more, more, more!
Until next time,