I don't have an erotica shelf so it's under romance, but it's erotica all the way with a small, questionable romance overlay.
It's a shame because the first part of this book was hard to put down - the writing style is poetically sophisticated and excellent for this genre. Trust me, most erotica has terrible writing quality in my eyes. Most erotica remains unfinished by me because of this turn-off. But this book had talent in the writer's hand, and she didn't go into melodramatic waters either (another unusual thing). The story actually held a legit enough story. Well, at first anyway.
Basically the supplicant turns into a whore. Harsh word but it's as it's said in the book. The King falls in love with her and tries to spare her from this horrible, demeaning fate. People come to her for wishes and with awe but then turn away from her in disgust. Because of a change the King did to try and save her, they no longer did this in her presence, although I'm sure in their hearts the disdain was still there mixed with thankfulness for what she had done to "save" them.
I liked the King, and at first I liked the heroine, but then I stopped. She seemed to embrace the demeaning disgrace too easily, not understanding how she could hurt him. The writer wrote that this was the right thing to do, the only honorable thing, but it left a sour taste in my mouth. The first part of the book was sultry and actually well done with eroticism with the couple and family trying to save her, even if they weren't being honest about it. Really, the scene was amazingly hot to me. But then the sex blended together and dulled down, especially once the "rings" were entered. They were used constantly after that and it grew old, especially since it sounds annoying and painful to me rather than erotic. What a crutch it became, the focus of everything.
The mermaid thing was awesome, and I loved the fantasy elements with the dragons, poetical paintings of fruit and the bizarre serpent creature. Again the writer is talented, the erotica just grew stale for me and the romance was completely unbelievable. I see little reason the King would have fallen so in love with her like that, but he claims it was for her pure heart. This is more believable than her falling in love with him though - why? She wants everyone no matter what, especially with a drug she willingly takes, so I see no credibility in her love. She tells him, "But my cunt loves you best." Uh, yeah, that's romantic and appealing to him I'm sure.
It's a mixture of paganism and fertility and sacrifice of a virgin all over again with a new erotic twist.
Added in is further demeaning of women where she willingly accepts herself as a whore, but claims not to be one. I'm sorry, but even if she's doing good and saving others, I find it hard not to label her the same. Harsh, I know, but if you read the book you'd understand. Sure I'd want to save the children and prevent war; I just don't find much enjoyment in a story where the way a woman can be a savior is to be a whore who has to be used by anyone who wants her. Where a woman doesn't understand how her beloved would be bothered by it and gives him the cold shoulder over it. Or where a woman has no issues whatsoever for sacrificing herself for the greater good but making herself a sex object to be used at whim even by enemies and people who killed her family, yech.