Buy Link: Spoils of War
Author: Kari Gregg
Publisher: Noble Romance
As a young boy, Micah is captured by the rival King of Herra during their war with his country of Alekia. As a former member of the royal family, Micah is subjected to unusually bad treatment in Herra, even for a slave. He lives a life of harsh servitude in near starvation, and, upon his 18th birthday, one that includes sexual slavery as well. Micah’s family still cares for him, but in the midst of war they are unable to rescue him until a plague sweeping through Herra finally forces their hand.
Spending over half life in slavery has changed Micah profoundly. Physically he is very small and fragile from being nearly starved. He doesn’t speak at all (after his mother warned him not to talk when he was a child hiding from the Herran army) and lives a life of passive acceptance, knowing to rebel means terrible consequences. Micah has learned blind obedience and acceptance, and in fact needs the structure and rules of his master in order to function at this point. So when Eli comes to rescue him, Micah is overwhelmed and terrified. When he realizes Eli will take care of him and not let him go, Micah transfers his submission to Eli instead, needing someone to guide him in this new stage of his life. Micah sees himself as still a slave with Eli as his new master.
Micah’s rescue comes very early in the book and most of the story follows the time during their escape from Herra. Eli is loving and caring toward Micah, slowly building his confidence and helping him to adjust to life outside of captivity. The idea that he is a nobleman to whom others will defer is overwhelming for Micah and being away from Eli for even a moment is absolutely terrifying. The two men quickly enter into a sexual relationship as well. Eli brings great comfort to Micah, especially during sex, and we get quite a lot of hot and heavy scenes between them as their relationship grows. The biggest challenge for Micah comes upon returning home where he must learn his place in the new world in which he now finds himself.
I found this book an interesting twist on the usual master/slave trope in that rather than a slave falling in love with his captor, the story focuses on the aftermath of the slavery and the relationship Micah builds with his rescuer. It was interesting to imagine how someone who had lived such a structured, sheltered, and traumatic life would handle suddenly being thrust back into the real world. It totally made sense to me how Micah would instinctively search for someone new to fill that “master” role in his mind, even though Eli treats him with nothing but love and kindness rather than as a slave.
A few small quibbles, but nothing major. There was a lot of use of the word plough in reference to sex, as in “he ploughed me,” that became noticeable to me in its repetition. And maybe a bit too much sex that doesn’t advance the plot a whole lot (I can’t believe I am even writing that!).
Overall though I really enjoyed this story and just loved both Micah and Eli. Especially Eli with his endless patience and ability to slowly lead Micah back into real life. I would recommend Spoils of War, especially to folks looking for a twist on the usual master/slave story.