In The MarginRating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novella

Matt lives outside the city, farming the land that has been in his family for generations.  It’s a hard life.  The city is filled with technology, a sterile environment where everyone has what they need at their fingertips.  Matt finds it stifling and loves living out in the fresh air.  But he can barely keep up with all the work that needs to be done, so he saves until he can buy a Doll.  Dolls are AI creations programmed for specific tasks and abilities.  But when Matt finally gets his package open, it’s clear that he’s been delivered the wrong model.  There’s no way the beautiful, delicate Doll in the case can work the farm.  More than that, this Doll is so very lifelike that Matt almost thinks it’s human.  He requests a refund almost immediately.  When the Doll wakes up, he tells Matt that he is human, and that his name is Bastille.  But he can’t remember much of anything else.  Matt doesn’t know what to think, but he sees the terror on Bastille’s face when he suggests returning him, so Matt agrees to let Bastille stay.

Together, they fall into a comfortable relationship.  Bastille learns quickly, and though he can’t remember who or what he was before, he has some snippets of memories and knowledge that make it clear he is in fact human.  The two men become friends, and then so much more.  But as they begin to make a life for themselves, the government interferes.  Telling Matt that Bastille is actually a prototype not yet ready for the public, they want to take Bastille back.  But Matt knows they are wrong, that Bastille is human, and that the men from the government are lying.  When a squad of men come to take Bastille by force, Matt does whatever he can to protect Bastille.  But Bastille isn’t about to leave Matt, and the life they’ve built.  Together they make their escape, and try to figure out what to do next.

I love a good dystopian future story, and In The Margin fits the bill.  In a world where technology has taken over, Matt is one of the few who live outside the city and still make their living the old fashioned way.  But it’s a hard life to live, and the picture the author paints makes the struggles feel real.

Matt is a fantastic character.  He’s a bit downtrodden and disillusioned, but so determined that he was instantly likeable.  I felt for him immediately, and I wanted nothing more than to see him succeed.  From the very beginning, when his Doll arrived, I wanted it to be the solution to his problems.  But as soon as he opened the case, I knew that this was going to be a different story entirely.  I love the world Stone created, and I loved Matt’s place in it.  He knows who he is, he knows what is right, and though he may hesitate or second guess himself occasionally, he’s a strong man who is going to do the right thing in the end.

Which is why it’s utterly believable that, once he realizes the truth about Bastille, he would take the man in and keep him safe.  Bastille is lost.  He hardly remembers anything about his life before waking up in Matt’s kitchen.  What I love about Bastille is that he takes stock of his situation, and then does what he can to make the best of it.  When he thinks about going back to the city, terror floods him.  So he pleads with Matt to be able to stay, and then steps up and pulls his weight.

I loved the slow build of their relationship.  They didn’t immediately jump into bed together, and I thought that was appropriate given their situation.  Matt had to have time to come to terms with the fact that Bastille wasn’t a Doll, and Bastille had to be able to get to know and trust Matt.  When they finally got to that point, it was a beautiful thing.  It felt real and organic, a natural extension of their blossoming relationship.

My only trouble came with the pacing.  There were a lot of time jumps in the narration, and while that’s not always a bad thing, there were times when I felt a little bit like I was missing something.  I would have liked to see a little bit more of their growing relationship in the beginning.  The pacing evened out after that, but in the beginning, it seemed like we could have benefited from just a bit more information.  I also felt like the ending was just a little abrupt.  I don’t want to spoil it, but I would have liked to see a little bit more there as well.

This was a really good story, with great characters, good action, and a fantastic world.  If dystopian stories are your thing, absolutely pick this one up.  And if they’re not, well, I’d suggest giving In The Margin a try anyway.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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