Tag Archives: slavery

Staged (Belonging #3) by Kim Fielding

Staged by Kim FieldingStaged (Belonging #3) by Kim Fielding

Released on July 18, 2016

Published by Riptide Publishing

Pages/words count: 255 pages, 67,600 words

Categories: romance, sci-fi, alternate world/alternate universe, m/m, multiple partners

Blurb:

Once the second-prize winner on My Slave’s Got Talent, Sky Blue has spent the past few years singing at a failing New York nightclub. While Sky has never had control over his fate, his life seems to take a turn for the worse when he’s torn from the familiar comfort of performing and sold to a rich and enigmatic man.

Morgan Wallace takes his newly purchased slave to San Francisco, his intentions unclear. On the one hand, he treats Sky with more kindness than Sky has ever known—treats him like a real person. On the other hand, he shares Sky at parties hosted by his sadistic new friends.

A confused slave is an endangered slave, and Sky isn’t even sure of his master’s real name. Is he Morgan Wallace, wealthy and cruel, or Mackenzie Webster, caring and compassionate? Caught between hope, fear, and an undeniably growing attachment, Sky struggles to untangle which parts are real and which are merely a performance. His future, his heart, and even his life may depend on it.

Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes:

dubious consent
explicit violence
non-consent

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Riptide Publishing  •   Amazon

Our thoughts:

Having read both previous novels in the Belonging ‘verse, I was anxious to see what Kim Fielding would bring to the world that intrigues and saddens at the same time.

The Belonging ‘verse began with Collared by Rachel Haimowitz. That novel haunted me for days after reading it, but it sets the stage for readers so I believe it is a good place to start, in this series of three individual standalone novels.

This world is a cruel one. There are freemen and slaves. If you’re a slave, you are made to believe you have a genetic defect. A flaw that predestines you to a life of slavery. If one parent is a slave, you are a slave. You can never buy or earn your freedom. Born a slave, die a slave. A slave has no soul and is incapable of free thinking, deep feelings, or even taking care of themselves. At least that’s what free folk tell themselves to push away any guilt they might have over years of legalized slavery.

Sky Blue was born to a slave women in a brothel. Rumored to be the son of a famous singer, Sky has spent his whole life a slave, singing for his owners. His third owner decides to sell him off and thus begins his journey into the unknown.

Treated like a scourge, or worse, Sky is held in a warehouse in deplorable conditions until his new owner buys him. The man is a mystery. Not really telling him much about what he expects from Sky or what the new rules are. Sky’s new master seems nice but also harsh at the same time. He also seems wealthy. He’s even kind. It’s like he’s never owned a slave before. The lack of direction leaves Sky off-center. Before he knew the score. Sing. Entertain. Sing. Now, he’s clueless.

Morgan Wallace is doing a job and he must acquire a slave to get in the door with some new clients. That’s how he comes to acquire Sky. This is just a means to an end. Hopefully in a few weeks, the job will be done and Sky can go somewhere and live the rest of his life singing in a leisurely club or something. Unfortunately, two things happen. One, Sky must endure torture and rape at the hands of the clients Wallace must get in good with. No matter how sorry Wallace is, he’ll never be able to forgive himself for bringing Sky into this situation. The last thing is that he’s falling hard and fast for Sky. He likes his company. He likes his singing and his gentle way. He enjoys seeing him discover new things. Sharing a bed is glorious and they don’t even have to do anything but hold each other and be together.

In an effort to keep him safe, Wallace (Mac) doesn’t tell Sky anything details about his mission so you can imagine how terribly bad this has the potential to get for everyone involved.

I think the trust is where it’s at for these two. Even through the secrets and bad meetings Sky endures with Mac’s contacts, there’s trust. Sky has to trust that there’s a reason why Mac does what he does. Mac has to trust that Sky will come out of this alright and that the ends justify the means.

I loved seeing Sky become ‘free.’ He gets to discover his world for the first time, thanks to Mac. He’s also given the chance to choose for himself and even speak out and act out. The dynamic is definitely pushed past what was expected. I was even surprised in the end when Sky doesn’t just fall and blindly follow. He does what he wants and gives himself time to process.

A profound addition to the Belonging ‘verse. I’m thrilled there was an addition to the series and hope to see more in the future.

RATING: BAD ASS BOOTS!!

Counterpunch (Belonging #2) by Aleksandr Voinov

CounterpunchPublished 15 September 2014

Published by Riptide Publishing

Copy obtained from publisher for review.

Synopsis:

Fight like a man, or die like a slave.

Brooklyn Marshall used to be a policeman in London, with a wife and a promising future ahead of him. Then he accidentally killed a rioter whose father was a Member of Parliament and had him convicted of murder. To ease the burden on the overcrowded prison system, Brooklyn was sold into slavery rather than incarcerated. Now, he’s the “Mean Machine”, a boxer on the slave prizefighting circuit, pummelling other slaves for the entertainment of freemen and being rented out for the sexual service of his wealthier fans.

When Nathaniel Bishop purchases Brooklyn’s services for a night, it seems like any other assignation. But the pair form an unexpected bond that grows into something more. Brooklyn hesitates to call it “love”—such things do not exist between freemen and slaves—but when Nathaniel reveals that he wants to help get Brooklyn’s conviction overturned, he dares to hope. Then, an accident in the ring sends Brooklyn on the run, jeopardizing everything he has worked so hard to achieve and sending him into the most important fight of all—the fight for freedom.

Review:

Another great book from the Belonging world. I’ve read Rachel Haimowitz’s Anchored and I always hoped for a sequel. I’m actually happy to read Counterpunch instead! One thing Anchored had, a lot of non con and violence. It worked for that story. The brutality of this dystopian world and the use of slaves justified what her character suffered and endured.

In Counterpunch we have a man, Brooklyn, who was born free but due to circumstances, he was put into slavery. His spirit has not been broken to the point of being docile. Brook’s only been a slave for two years. He went through slave training and moved from prison to a gym facility where he trained in boxing. As a freeman he was an amateur boxer but as a slave, he has no other focus except training. His diet, amount of sleep and regimen are all set for him. It actually makes him a better, more lethal fighting machine. He’s on his way to winning titles.

The part he doesn’t like it being owned. Being a slave. Brook is pimped out after some of his fights to bring in more money for ‘management’ and he hates it. Then a client is very different with him. Nathaniel lets Brook be in control and he gives him soft, human touches. Their time together almost feels like being courted and Brook feels like he is falling for Nathaniel. Brook discovers that Nathaniel is interested in an appeal to get Brook his freedom back and the hope that comes with that really boosts Brook in the ring.

Nathaniel seems to be a saving grace someone who Brook feels attraction toward. Someone a bit more safe and powerful as well. He’s also an enigma because we just don’t know enough about him or his motives. That intrigue makes their match even more interesting. The chemistry is powerful between them even though it starts out dub con it quickly moves to lust and intrigue. Nathaniel submits to Brook beautifully and with extreme sensual grace. Powerful yet compliant. It’s a very interesting dynamic and it helps Brook choose to want Nathaniel even more and to give up more to him.

Of course, Brook hasn’t quite suffered enough so after a big match in the ring, everything Brook hoped for and could only dream of happening is yet again ripped from his grasp. He is beaten down for good this time, or is he?

An overwhelming feeling of hope prevails in Counterpunch . The need to gain freedom. The drive to fight and never give up. The feelings a freeman has once enslaved are all very profound in this book. It sets it part from its counterpart because in Anchored the slave was born into slavery and has always known his place in society. It was navigating that place to still get the best and easiest path. In Counterpunch a man is a victim of circumstances and loses his freedom. It’s about what happens to a strong man everyone wants to break. Brook is not going to go down easy, he’s a fighter and it’s ingrained in him to keep punching, to get back up and fight the good fight.

RATING: BAD ASS BOOTS!

Human Rights by S.L. Armstrong

Human RightsReleased 29 August 2014

Published by Storm Moon Press

Copy obtained from publisher for review.

Synopsis:

After landing in the pound after being abandoned by yet another family, Ewan is convinced he’s too old to be adopted out again. For a pet like him, the only fate left is to be put down. But when Sir Jiat—of the City Guard, no less—visits the pound, he goes straight to Ewan. Jiat prefers the more mature pets and treats Ewan better than he’s ever been treated by any previous owner. Ewan sleeps at the foot of his master’s bed, not on the floor or outside; he is given toys and other pets to play with and plenty of room to run; and he’s fed on a schedule and eats very well. But Ewan’s love for his master begins to change, to become something else, something more.

Plenty of pets have been killed over the years for acting on the feelings that Sir Jiat inspires, so he dares not express the desire building inside him. And yet, Ewan can’t help but notice that Sir Jiat has begun to act differently as well, more doting, treating Ewan almost as an equal. So even though the thing he wants more than anything is also their society’s greatest taboo, Ewan resolves that if he must die, he will die having felt, just once, the warmth of Sir Jiat’s soft fur pressed against his bare naked skin.

Our Thoughts:

This story was so much more than I expected! With the slavery and alternate universe with animals as masters and humans as pets, I just wasn’t sure how it would flow. With S.L. Armstrong weaving the story, I should have known it would be captivating!

In this world, various animals rule. The society is set up with animals in charge and they can own human pets. The pets can be male or female and they are companions. Most are purchased young and as friends or pets for the children in the house. Laws are in place to assure the pets are treated right, but as with any society, not all adhere to the rules.

There are pets that are discarded back to the pound because they are too old or actually do something the family doesn’t like. Some owners mistreat their pets, with poor food, hygiene and living conditions. There are also pet owners who abuse, whether physical or sexual abuse, it is illegal for the pets to be forced into sex with their masters. It brings very harsh punishment for the master and the pet is exterminated. No exceptions. To the masters, pets are ignorant and slaves, they don’t deserve even the smallest opportunities or luxuries during their lives.

A small group of people are of a different mind-set. They know pets are smart and can perform to a higher level than allowed. They also believe in more equal and fair treatment. It just so happens that Ewan is in the pound, having been discarded by yet another family. Being much older, he knows his days are numbered before he is to be taken to the back room and put out of his misery for good. What happens instead, Sir Jiat.

Sit Jiat is a distinguished member of the City Guard. He is only interested in an older pet and he selects Ewan. It isn’t long before Ewan realizes that Sir Jiat is very different from his prior masters. Sir Jiat properly feeds, clothes, bathes, exercises and provides for Ewan. Never has Ewan been taken care of as well as he has with Sir Jiat. He’s even socializing with other pets! Ewan discovers that Sir Jiat is part of the movement to save pets and work toward reforming the laws governing their treatment.

Ewan and Sir Jiat have a very respectful relationship. Ewan is afraid he will act incorrectly and upset his master but Sir Jiat just wants to have Ewan be more an equal. It’s baffling at first but the surprise turns into understanding, then infatuation. From there is turns to lust. Ewan wants Sir Jiat but the consequences are too great if they are found out. That’s when Sir Jiat drops the big bomb. The group he is part of is doing even more than Ewan ever expected and there just might be a way for Sir Jiat and Ewan to have a life together as equals after all. That’s if they aren’t discovered first.

The suspense and emotional turmoil will grip you in this novella. Towards the end, I was in tears wondering how the mess would work itself out. All was lost and it was a desperate, black moment for Ewan. His suffering and emotional pain  will rip your heart out. So well done!!

RATING: BAD ASS BOOTS!

Serial: The Knife of Narcissus Part 1 and 2 by Carolyne Chand

The Knife of Narcissus 1-2Release date of 24 August 2014

Published by dik-dik Books

Copy obtained from author for review.

Synopsis:

Lucius Sentius, along with most people in the city of Rome, assumes that the debauched and chaotic days of Nero are behind them now that Rome has settled down under a sober new ruler, Vespasian. Lucius may be only the son of a merchant, but his newly arranged marriage to an older widow will bring powerful connections and an enviable life. If he keeps himself on a respectable path.

That seems impossible when he discovers that his heart lies somewhere not at all respectable: his lifelong friend Trio, the reserved and serious son of one of the most reserved and pious families in the city.

As Lucius is pushed along the course of duty to family, to his promised spouse, and to Rome itself, he begins to see under the surface of his city, into a net of intrigues, manipulation, and corruption that can carry him upward in status and and bring him what he most wants…or destroy both him and the people he loves.

Our Thoughts:

I’m excited to be reviewing the serial The Knife of Narcissus bi-weekly! There are seven installments followed by a novella.

What sets The Knife of Narcissus apart from the majority of the books I read is the setting. Hands down one of the few books I’ve read set in ancient Rome. Carolyne Chand does a wonderful job of painting vivid pictures of the clothes, houses, streets and everyday life in the city. It’s mesmerizing and intriguing. The perfect amount of descriptors to whet the palate and not dominate the story.

In the first part of the serial, we get to know Lucius Sentius quite deeply. He is in his early twenties, lives with his father and helps run his father’s commerce (imports) business. He is soon to marry a widower of great wealth and standing. A marriage that will raise Lucius and his father in the business world and amongst their peers.  Lucius’ best friend is Trio, a serious fellow with a keen business sense (wine) and similar standing in society as Lucius’ family.

As Lucius prepares for his marriage, his father discovers he is still a virgin. He demands Lucius learn how to satisfy his wife. He doesn’t want anything to go amiss with this union and he wants heirs for Lucius. This demand became very corrupted in a society that houses slaves that can be used for any and every whim. What is unexpected in who Lucius picks.

During the time Lucius is discovering some things about himself and learning some satisfying ways, he begins lusting after his best friend. The attraction to Trio has always been in the background, it’s just taken Lucius a long time to decipher his feelings and act upon them. Instead of attracting Trio and starting a hot love affair, as Lucius hopes, he pushed Trio away.

In part two of the serial, Lucius and Velleia marry. Valleia is well schooled. Formerly married to a Senator that was quite older, she is rumored to be barren. One must wonder if she really is or if it is just the age of her first husband that prevented her for having any children. She doesn’t seem fond of Lucius and the feeling is mutual. Velleia is definitely more mature than Lucius.

Lucius seems to be sowing his wild oats more than anything. He’s being careless and too freely showing his perversions around the city. He’s propositioned slaves, attended brothels and also trying to win Trio over. Since Trio and his slave are off-limits, the brothel is visited and soon Lucius brings one of his house slaves, Arpalycus, into his bed and in his confidences.

The serial is so fascinating it is hard to not be pulled into the story, wondering what will happen next. With Lucius’ carelessness, I anticipate trouble ahead! The debauchery and excitement with the ancient Rome setting is sure to please any reader!

RATING: BAD ASS BOOTS! (Thankfully only two weeks to wait for the next installment!)