Author: Kay Berrisford
Reviewed by: Lexi
Genre: M/M Slave
Summary: When the king commands former war hero Captain Jay Ghair to find him the perfect royal sex slave, Jay’s quiet new life as a librarian is shattered. Jay discovers the boy he’s looking for in Alix, a lowly miner and wannabe court scientist, whom Jay can’t help but secretly adore. However, teaching the rebellious Alix to be a docile slave is difficult. Alix will behave for just one man, and it isn’t the king. It’s Jay.
Standing by while the king’s treatment of Alix becomes cruel is torturous for Jay. He longs to return to his library, yet he can’t bear to leave Alix, or his people, unprotected. To rescue Alix—and save the realm from the increasingly tyrannical king—Jay must confront the demons of his military past and take up the sword again. But his most important battle must be won through returning Alix’s love and learning to master this bad slave who submits only for him.
Review: ****warning spoilers within****
Jaysen Ghair (Jay) is a war hero, retired and living a solitary, quiet life as a librarian. King Lyam sends for Jay with no reason given as to why. Jay admittedly has been so out of touch that he doesn’t know anything but gossip about King Lyam. Jay served under Lyam’s father, Raeli the sage, who was known as a great leader. In this kingdom, it is believed that Raeli’s bloodline has a divine right to rule, the lunar stone, pulsing and alive, is evidence to their right to rule.
As Jay is traveling across the country, hints as to the state of the country is given. By the time he reaches the castle gates, the picture that has been painted isn’t pretty and sets up a level of trepidation. King Lyam is rumored as a pleasure seeker. He even has an ‘overseer of the king’s pleasure’. Taken before the king, Jay hears the royal request and laments his lack of a sword to fall upon. I agreed. The king sits on his pedestal surrounded by a dozen beautiful blond men in golden chains and loincloths. He’s nothing but a bored brat. It seems that King Raeli spoke often of Jay (which was news to him) and said he had impeccable taste when it came to beauty. Jay’s betrothed was rumored to exceptionally beautiful and now the king wanted Jay to find him another of such beauty with a little spunk. Jay is given a limited time to produce said beauty to the king.
Alix is a Karmite miner, born into a contract destined for lifetime of low wages and poverty. Every extra bit of his money goes into his experiments. He suspected that the blue (hard) karmite that is sometimes found in the mines can be used as a fuel source. We meet him as he’s executing another one of his experiments, it goes horribly wrong, and lands Alix on the wrong side of a noose. He is saved by Jay and given the option to go to the dungeon and wait for trial or become the king’s sex slave. Now Alix is no shrinking violet. He’s had sex for money before and didn’t find the act deplorable. He can’t think how being the king’s sex slave would be any different. Plus there is an upside. Once he has the king’s favor, maybe Lyam would like to see Alix’s experiments, possibly making Alix the royal scientist. He agrees and goes back the castle with Jay and the lazy, no good guards.
I wasn’t sure if I could give this review without giving out spoilers, because honestly, I was livid for ¾ of the story. When Jay and Alix get back to the castle to find that the king’s cousin and an entourage of 50 made a sudden visit, I freaking whooped for joy because I thought there would be an immediate coup. I detested King Lyam, and the longer the story went on the more vile he became in my eyes. I was incensed that no one, not one of the merchants, advisors, nobles, servants, guards, old war heroes where moved enough by Lyam’s perverse sadism, exhibitionist sexual displays, or the daily array of degradation he heaped upon everybody he came in contact with. He ground his country down to nothing, crushing the lives of his subjects with demands of more taxes so he would wallow in needless luxury. Everybody gave the same reason, Lyam had the divine right to rule.
King Lyam needed to die.
Waiting for Jay to find it within himself to take steps to make a change in the failed monarchy was like beating my head on a stone wall. He likes Alix more and more and yet he watches Alix return from his time with the king more battered every single day. Alix is flippant about it, makes jokes to deflect how he feels, and Jay doesn’t seem worried about Alix’s wellbeing. He’s too caught up in trying to keep an emotional distance, which he fails miserably at but still puts effort into. He’s too engrossed in how the slave trainer, Anton, touches Alix, fighting useless jealousy instead of discovering a way to free Alix.
I was dying inside for Alix. (I need to note here that the king doesn’t have sexual relations with Alix. He’s a sadist who gobbles up Alix’s pain.) He puts up a good front, not only with other people but with himself as well. Creating this lie, this illusion of him and Jay that enables him to endure the king’s attentions. Waiting for Jay to notice him, wanting to be touched by Jay and only Jay. Waiting and waiting until the illusion shatters. I couldn’t laugh at his jokes or feel his humor because he freaking broke my heart. He continued to work on his experiments even knowing the king wouldn’t give a damn. He wanted the illusion for the king’s right to rule to be broken so everyone would see what he saw, and he (and I) despaired it would never happen.
Logically and realistically, I know that it takes time, sometimes years, for individuals to break from fundamental beliefs. Even though I knew this, I couldn’t help but think “!!!FINALLY!!!” when someone stepped up and said enough is enough. I turned blood thirsty, chanting “Do it! Do it! Don’t monologue!” … okay I was already watching for someone to spill some blood at the halfway point. By this time I was vibrating with the need for violent retribution. What I will say, once Jay selects a course of action, that’s it, there is no deviation from the path he chooses.
In the end, I was left pretty raw, mostly from how Lyam treated Alix. It is more heavy on the—I don’t want to call it S&M because Alix’s treatment isn’t written for titillation—torture than I would normally read. For someone else who reads more of the slave genre than I do, Lyam’s actions could probably be considered tame. Upon reflecting back, I do feel there was a lighter undertone to the whole story, and I will have to admit it was lost on me, mainly because I was pissed off so much. Even though Alix and Jay get their happy ending, I’m going to need a fluffy read or four to bring me down.