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_Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander_

Subtitled a Bisexual Regency Romance. Anne Herendeen

That subtitle should prevent anyone from complaining about surprise about what they were getting into. Just in case they missed that subtitle, the opening scene is of a hungover Andrew waking up in bed next to Kit, whose name he has forgotten, and who he realizes he should never have brought home.

After my extensive post about _Coulters' Woman_ (yes, Coulter brothers sharing one woman), a friend sent me a pointer to a review she'd read of this book, thinking I might be interested.

Let me just say, Thank You. Both to the friend, and to the reviewer, and to the author, and to everyone else involved in this book existing. That was amazingly fun. The author did a certain amount of research, which was really cool, and then made some reasonable decisions about using that research (choosing to not limit herself to period slang terms for private parts, for example). The author appears to have read. A Lot. I mean, like, a whole lot. She managed to pack into this admittedly long novel nearly every possible Regency novel convention. We've got the low-class family from which virginal heroine springs, complete with dead military dad. City kids with gutteral English are welcomed into the household and taught to read. (Wait -- she missed one: no dogs! Dang! And the horses are only mentioned in passing.) Society folk who present themselves as respectable but who are sleeping around on each other. The trip to the modiste which is amazingly efficient. It includes the sophisticate helping the country girl. The slut overriding the chaste woman's taste. The new husband finding out and getting all up in an uproar. A bet at White's.

I could go on. There's even a younger brother with pockets to let because he keeps losing his allowance betting. But I'll just stop and say that every convention of regency romance makes an appearance here (except dogs. No dogs.).

Andrew (rich, will be a peer) decides to get married and reproduce, despite his definite preference for men. He elicits the help of the brotherhood of the title, which are other men who feel similarly. Not the best way to find a wife in some ways, but in others, quite reasonable. Phyllida, the bride, has published one gothic romance and has another in proof sheets. In the wake of her first sexual experiences with her new husband (his preference isn't _that_ definite), she does a little rewriting. A subplot involving a would-be spy and blackmailer introduces a substantial amount of Misunderstanding. Andrew is Dear John'ed by his three years in the military young man and meets a new beau, Matthew. Phyllida's younger sister arrives to have her Season. Phyllida gets knocked up. Antics ensue.

The triangle is a V. Unlike the star configuration of _Coulters' Woman_, Phyllida getting knocked up does not mean that no one gets laid. Very unlike _Coulters' Woman_ in that there is man-on-man action and no action involving all three at once in the titular relationship. (In fact, no three ways occur on page in the book, altho John Church does wander off with Monkton and Verney near the end.) Well, unless you count Phyllida watching Matthew and Andrew, and her lap-surfing at the wedding.

More typical romances often involve subplots in which other, established relationships are shown developing, and othe relationships develop. Similarly, the established three-way (a complete triangle, in every way, but not shown on page) between Lord and Lady Isham and Archbold; the new three-way (I think it's a three-way) between Kit, Nan and Philip. You'll notice a theme. Just as in typical romances everything is one-man/one-woman, in this atypical romance, it's all two-men/one woman, and the vertex is one of the men. Unless you count the Church/Verney/Monkton three-way, which looks like a one-night stand.

Regular readers of this page will not be surprised at my reaction to the post-pregnancy depiction of Phyllida. She chooses to nurse Sophia herself and when her sister-in-law gives her crap about it, she tosses it right back at her. And when George's portrait of her winds up being her wearing only the rubies, reclining, feeding Sophia. Heh. Gotta love that.

Given the content of this book, it's not nearly as graphic as _Coulters' Woman_. It really is mostly about the relationship developing. While there's a fair amount of sexual activity not involving the main players, that, too, is clearly in service of the plot.

RHI a regular publisher has picked this up and will be bringing it out this year. We'll see if that proves to be true.
Tags: bisexuality, book review, historical romance, polyamory, sexuality
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