Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Brooklyn was deemed responsible for the death of a young woman in his law enforcement job but instead of getting a manslaughter charge, he was sentenced to life as a slave. And since he was always into boxing as a sport, his new owners put him into boxing for profit in the slave prizefighting circuit. And he’s damn good–so good that he comes to the attention of wealthy boxing fan, Nathaniel Bishop. Bishop buys his services post-match one night, services that are always available for the right price, and Brooklyn preps himself for the usual—stud service for some wealthy client who wants to make use of all that extra testosterone after a match.
What he gets is not “the usual”. Nathaniel wants him all right, but he wants his acceptance more than he wants to dominate Brooklyn in sex. He slowly works his way into Brooklyn’s life, instilling confidence in the boxer, and hope for his freedom. Nathaniel is a lawyer and he believes that he can get Brooklyn free. He points out all the areas where he feels that Brooklyn was made a scapegoat and shouldn’t have been sentenced to slavery. He even manages to get Brooklyn away from his current trainer and into a training regimen with a new trainer and sparring partners who are worthy of working with the boxer who will one day be the champion on the slave circuit. It’s during these months of training that Brooklyn and Nathaniel become closer, and though Brooklyn finds it hard to verbalize his love for Nathaniel, they do love each other, and that stokes Brooklyn’s hope for a brighter future even higher.
Circumstances come to a head, however, when the boxer Brooklyn fights for the gold belt dies as the result of the knockout Brooklyn hands him. When Brooklyn tries to get away, he’s sent back to his original trainer and security handler, both of whom now feel they have an excuse to be even more brutal to him. And what happens to Nathaniel? He’s missing from Brooklyn’s life, gone without a trace, leaving Brooklyn wondering why he left himself open to feeling something for another person when he knows his case is so hopeless.
I love Voinov’s work. The characters are so tough, their circumstances so darkly depressing, yet their spirit remains strong. This is an excellent example of the author’s skills in bringing a character to life. I felt so sad for Brooklyn, watching what he was going through in his slavery, yet still keeping his sense of self. And the ending was so complex, yet simple, so heartbreaking, yet full of hope for Brooklyn’s future. I can’t recommend this story highly enough. If you like a dark, gritty alt universe story with a hero who’s flawed, this is the one for you.
Cover Art by Tami Santarossa – The drawn cover depicts the principal character in a relaxed stance looking out the window at the world beyond. Though it does symbolize his lack of freedom, I would prefer something either darker, like a character with a bloody cut above his eye, or in the process of throwing a punch in a boxing scene. This cover doesn’t express the explosive and dark world within.
ebook, 200 pages
Published September 15th 2014 by Riptide Publishing (first published November 2nd 2011)