Lovers and Beloveds - MeiLin Miranda Temmin is Prince of Tremont and Heir to the throne. He has grown up with his mother, the Queen, far from the King's residence in a sheltered environment. Now that he is turning eighteen, he must return to court and start his training to one day become the next King.Once there, he meets Issak and Allis Obby, the Embodiments of the God Nerr and Goddess Neya of the Lover's Temple. He is infatuated with them and wants to become a Supplicant to the Lover's Temple. Not so much out of piety but because he wants Issak and Allis. This plan is not popular with the King due to the prophecy that says if this were to happen, prosperity would come to the people. Sounds good, eh? Well, not when the King believes that prosperity for commoners means downfall for the royal line. Should Temmin follow his desire or his duty?While Temmin struggles with his choices, he has to adjust to his new, more formal life at The Keep, dodge assassins, avoid the annoying prat, Lord Fennows, who has come to live at The Keep, deal with the servants' love lives, and escape the machinations of the King to keep him out of the Lovers Temple. He gets an unexpected ally in Teacher, the immortal advisor and tutor to all the Kings of Tremont. Teacher shows him the Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom. This is a story within the story that has parallels to Temmin's experiences.Temmin starts out a bit whiny and spoiled, but you see him grow through his experiences and the choices he has to make. Though he could act a little naive at times, he also showed a tendency toward compassion, protectiveness, and loyalty. He loves his sisters and is protective of them even though they do annoy him at times. He also shows kindness to the servants. These qualities made Temmin a very likable character to me. He seemed to be good at heart and wanted to do the right thing. There are a number of interesting secondary characters too.There is magic in this world, but it has been diminished. The magic that was once wielded by the King and his line is now mostly in the hands of Teacher. The reason for this was explained briefly, but I would like to have learned a little more about how this occurred. When Teacher shows Temmin the Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom (and I do mean show...falling into a book takes on a more literal meaning with Teacher) we see the magic of the past. This story unfolds slowly throughout the book.The ending seemed a bit abrupt to me. I turned the page and was surprised that it had ended. There are definitely open story lines to be continued, so don't expect everything to be neatly tied up at the end. I don't know how many books are planned for this series but I get the sense that it will be a fairly long saga. There was at least one story thread that seemed to disappear -- the assassins and their attempts to kill Temmin -- that I suspect will come back into play in upcoming books.Miranda has created an interesting world that is not bogged down in excessive world-building details. There are enough similarities to our own world to make a connection, but also enough differences to give you that "we're not in Kansas anymore" feeling. I've noticed this book is tagged as steampunk, but other than it taking place in a pre-industrial age and a steam engine being one of the primary modes of travel, I don't really see anything steampunk about this story. This world is also polytheistic; there are several gods and goddesses that people can choose to worship. Each one has its own Temple, with the Lover's Temple being the one of choice for Temmin. You can probably guess what goes on in this Temple.This book is often compared to Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series. I haven't read that series so I can't say for sure, but I understand the gist of it and I think it may be a good comparison. Like Carey's books, there is a significant erotic element to this story. Lovers and Beloveds is not a romance and you won't get an HEA. I would consider it more an alternate world fantasy with strong erotic elements. I don't feel the sex is gratuitous. It supports the story rather than the other way around. However, some of the erotic elements may be uncomfortable for some readers. Be prepared for dubious consent/rape, menage, anal, m/m, light bdsm and elements of incest.The beginning of the book was a wee bit slow for me but it didn't take long to pick up. I thought the narrative and dialogue flowed well. It was also edited well, which made it a delightfully smooth read. This book was crowd funded, which means enough people enjoyed the initial drafts and believed in the author's ability to deliver a good story that they were willing to donate money so the author could get it professionally polished with editing and cover art. If you are inclined to read a fantasy saga with a strong erotic theme, I would recommend giving this book a try. I look forward to Temmin's continuing saga. http://indieparanormalbooksreviews.blogspot.com/