Guest Review by Sammy
Buy Link: Anchored
Author: Rachel Haimowitz
Publisher: Nobel Romance Publishing
Normally I write a review almost immediately after reading a book. I find doing it this way makes it easier to summarize, clearer to recall and comment on. Knowing that, you might also want to know that it has taken me four days to post this review…four days of turning this story over and over in my mind. I was determined to post a review that essentially would leave you, the reader, with little doubt as to exactly how I felt about this novel. And so, please make note—this is not going to be pretty and this is not going to be gentle…but then neither of those words could ever describe this book.
Anchored by Rachel Haimowitz earned every portion of the 4 stars I have given it. This book, this cry against humanity is gritty, gut-wrenching, disturbing, and so very well written that my gut is still churning and my nerves still slightly on edge—four days after I turned off my Kindle with more than one sigh of relief.
The novel exposes us to a world where you are either incredibly lucky to be a “Master” or phenomenally unfortunate to be a “slave.” Slaves are a big business and are used in every walk of life, from common laborers to on-air TV commentators. Not all slaves are used for “companionship”—a rather kind euphemism for whoring. However, every slave can be bought for a price and so it is with the subject of this novel, Daniel. What we glean about Daniel’s past is only partially revealed in the first book in which we meet him, Where He Belongs. One should not turn to this novel for clarity on Daniel’s murky past as very little else of that time is revealed. Rather it picks up when Daniel is at the top of his “career” as a news anchor and commentator, living in the dormitories back at headquarters, safely kept from the duties of being a companion, yet also not having the freedom to pursue any type of relationship with another slave. What little we know of his background comes out in little snippets of memories that evoke sadness (remembering his mother whom he has not seen since he was about the age of 12) or real fear (beatings that amount to torture and verbal abuse at the hands of his first Mistress who effectively used him alternately as slave labor and a convenient punching bag for her aggressive anger).
While one thinks that Daniel’s life is actually in a fairly stable place, we are quickly reminded of his slave status with the first of two violent scenes in the novel. Daniel has found out that he is to become a “companion” at the end of the week. Understandably this information has sent him into an emotional tailspin that has him missing deadlines, and giving less than 100 percent concentration to his job; in other words, he is not being the “good, obedient slave” that the network expects. The result is a “discipline” scene that served up no less than 80 lashes of the whip and the expectation that he would go on and do the news show that night—and, of course, he does.
The storyline continues to follow Daniel as he is “rented” by a competing network anchor, Carl. Carl is the polar opposite of most masters. He not only allows his slaves to go out to movies, he arranged to have the lover of his slave Joan purchased as well so that they could live together in what might be as close as any slaves could come to a stable loving relationship. Carl wants many things from Daniel. Beyond the obvious, sex, he is also looking for a true companion, someone to talk politics with, dine with, catch a football game with…essentially someone with whom he can have a loving relationship. But let’s be clear here, Daniel is still a slave—and he still calls Carl “Master.”
Unfortunately, Daniel is so entirely gripped in fear and panic over being sold for sex that he is unable to bring himself to even talk to Carl, much less have sex. We watch with real dismay and growing unease as Daniel reels from moment to moment wondering when the next blow will fall. He has known very little real love and cannot even begin to recognize it when it is held out in front of him. While Carl has a great deal of patience, we are never allowed to forget that he “purchased” Daniel and he is unhappy with the purchase—unhappy enough to “return” him. This sparks the second gut-wrenching scene in the novel…what is tantamount to a gang rape, complete with tasering over and over and over again. This scene enacted by one of the networks’ managers, Mr. Foster, is perhaps one of the most disturbing scenes of the novel. You should know that part of this rape occurs “onscreen” and it IS brutal. Broken and bloodied, Daniel submits and does as he is told, going as far as asking for sex from Mr. Foster just to make the agony stop. He seems thoroughly “reconditioned.” When he is returned to Carl, he attempts to be the docile sex slave he “thinks” Carl has wanted from the start, only to find that Carl never wanted him to be “disciplined” at all. In what can only be described as a fearsome tantrum, Carl proceeds to destroy his house as Daniel cringes at his feet completely misinterpreting Carl’s anger as focused on him when in reality it is being leveled at the network.
Over the final moments of this incredible novel, we watch as Daniel ever the phoenix, rises from the ashes and finds that he can find peace and happiness with Carl—who tenderly restores his health as well as his will to survive.
So, at this point I am sure you are scratching your head and wondering after all the obvious discomfort I had with the subject matter, how could I have possibly rated this novel as a 4-star read. Well, here is the reason. I have known abused women. I have encouraged them to seek shelters, counseled them on where to turn for help, and cried with them amidst their bruises and broken bones. That is reality in our world and Haimowitz carries this reality into her novel. For me, it was completely understandable why Daniel would continue to suffer abuse, why he struggled with understanding why his life would never be any better, why he felt so completely trapped. This novel, Anchored, was perhaps one of the most in-depth character studies into the mind of a person who has no clear sense of their own self-worth and is held, locked, into a life that would have you or I running into the night to escape. In this area, this study of such a mind, of such a soul, Haimowitz excels. She gives us truth—we may not like it—we may think we could never live it—but it is truth nonetheless. For there are indeed people in this world whose lives are a series of battered moments and dashed dreams and they learn to cope as best as they can, and this is what Daniel does.
I will say that the novel needed just a bit more time toward the end for the transformation of a broken Daniel to a contented Daniel to be fully believable. There simply was not enough time to see this transition take place. This weakened the novel a bit but still did not mar the overall impact it carries. While this novel was often emotionally overwhelming for me, I can also say that it clearly and beautifully accomplished what it set out to do from it’s beginning to end. Anchored looks you in the eye and says do not judge those who cling to life by their very fingertips and do not begrudge them their happy for now moments—for even though those moments may come at a great price—that of the sacrificing of their pride. For that reason alone, I find myself recommending this novel to you. Be warned, this is not a happy ever after romance but it does allow for hope of a better life and that is definitely a happy for now ending.
Be sure to check out the review of the first part of Daniel’s story, Where He Belongs. And later we will be reviewing Counterpunch, another novel set in the Belonging universe.