Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Daniel Halstrom was born a slave, brutally indoctrinated into sex slave behavior before he even reached puberty, and then sold by his master to NewWorld Media at the age of ten. Fortunately, they wanted him for a different role and now, twenty-five years later, the handsome, blond news anchor who began his climb to fame as a field reporter is fairly secure in his role in the newsroom—or so he thinks. When NewWorld informs him that he’s been leased to Carl Whitman, a talk show host on a rival network, for the amazing sum of $6 million for the year, he’s seized by total and complete panic and frozen by fear as old memories of what it means to be a sex slave come back to haunt him. So much so, that he doesn’t recognize Carl’s attempts at being friendly and compassionate and it causes much unnecessary angst and frustration for the both of them.
Carl seems determined to include Daniel at the dinner table and as a companion while he watches television in the evenings. He doesn’t order Daniel around and fails to give Daniel the direction he’s come to expect from his masters. In fact, Daniel really isn’t capable of making his own decisions, having been born a slave and punished severely all his life for any attempt to do so. When Daniel fails to engage in any conversation with Carl, remaining mute and remote, in frustration, Carl reports his disappointment to the brass at NewWorld.
Once his bosses learn that Carl is not happy with him, they take Daniel to their punishment room. Spoiler alert.>and physically abuse him, first with a stun prod and then by raping him</spoiler>. In their twisted minds, the orders Carl gave them not to beat Daniel as they had previously done translated in their minds to find a new method of torture instead. Unfortunately, this level of torture is something with which Daniel is familiar from his early years and creates an even greater fear of sex.
This author’s style as a storyteller is exemplary, and I loved this story. I literally couldn’t put it down and read it well into the night so that I could complete it before I was able to let my mind rest enough to sleep. Both MCs were endearing and engaging, with Daniel taking an edge due to his sad background and constant fear. But Carl was special in his own way, a man who could have been dominant and domineering in this situation but who gave of himself in order to help Daniel make the transition. The story ended with a HFN, rather than a HEA, but that’s in keeping with the fact that Daniel is a slave so a HEA couldn’t be guaranteed.
A word of caution, however, there is very graphic violence and non-consensual sex in this story, so please don’t start it if that would make you upset. If you can read a story like that, then I highly recommend this one. It’s an interesting look at an alternative world where slavery is the norm, and the events in Daniel’s life are both common and expected.
Cover Art by Tami Santarossa – shows the MC looking out over the city, a wall of windows between him and the world, symbolizing his helplessness as a slave unable go anywhere freely. — I liked the cover as it represented the story nicely.
Sales links: Riptide Publishing All Romance eBooks (ARe) Amazon Anchored
ebook, 2nd Edition, 204 pages
Published September 8th 2014 by Riptide Publishing (first published January 17th 2011)