Rating: 2.75 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
In rescuing an innocent from unlawful arrest, Reed Caraway becomes the unwitting recipient of one man’s gratitude—and of his talents between the sheets.
Reed Caraway is a brawler, gambler and all-round persona non grata in the mountainous village of Alliance. Enlisted by force into the much-detested Order, he is accustomed to being despised. Yet when an act of kindness is repaid with an invitation to a stranger’s house, Reed thinks his luck may be changing.
Valentine Waters knows how men like Reed operate. He also knows that compassion doesn’t come without cost. He intends to repay Reed’s with his body, the only way he knows how, not anticipating that the soldier will prove a generous lover or that Valentine may want to see him again. As their carnal relationship turns into an intricate tangle of deep longing and scorching hot trysts, the most powerful man in the land recalls Valentine to the capital.
A more honourable position at court is well within Valentine’s reach, if only he can turn his back on Alliance and Reed. Faced with impossible odds, the foundation of their clandestine affair begins to quake, imperilling not only Valentine’s future but also his life.
This is the published blurb for the book Flight Made Easy. It intrigued me enough to request to read it. I do not read a lot of science fiction and I was looking for a different story setting and the element of a forbidden love story.
When the story opens, I was immediately drawn in as we land right in the middle of Reed’s bar fight. We immediately learn some things about him and the locals as Reed wears a uniform for the Order, lives in barracks, and the residents native to Alliance have red-rimmed teeth due to the scarlet drinking water. Why the water is scarlet we never learn. Reed then saves Valentine and his sister from being arrested.
After this opening scene, I had a hard time with this story overall, as well as matching it up to anything described in the blurb. Other than the name of the town, we are never told where in the world the story takes place, what year it is, exactly how the Order came to rule over the residents, how the capital and Lord Regent came to be in power, what the general age range is of the characters, and what happened to contemporary life.
We get a glimpse of Valentine’s past as we learn he was a courtesan to the Lord Regent in the capital. We see the Lord Regent briefly recall Valentine to the capital for companionship and sex and we see how he is treated. Valentine loathes all of it and we are told that the choices he made to get to this place were his own. We do not get to see any of these choices. We hear words such as traitor, resistance, and unification in a few short sentences told by a secondary character.
When Reed prevents Valentine and his sister from being arrested, Valentine is sure he owes Reed and invites him to his home. Which brings us to the above described scorching hot trysts and deep longing. The first time Valentine and Reed are together, Valentine is on his knees in front of a startled Reed, as Valentine offers repayment. The second time Valentine takes Reed to his bed as he still feels a repayment obligation. After they are finished, Valentine can be seen scrubbing himself clean as he is repulsed and feels like a whore. Through all of this, Reed is attracted to Valentine and looks forward to visiting him, but there is little empathy toward Valentine as his demeanor is just prickly. When the blurb says that Valentine was not anticipating that the soldier will prove a generous lover, the extent of that was basically Reed not demoralizing Valentine and wanting him to have his own pleasure. Valentine is psychologically removed from each encounter as he tries to just get through it, which does not bring deep longing to mind.
Reed is not experienced at all with sex or relationships. He is lonely and unhappy, as are most of the characters we meet. There is never a true emotional connection seen to show us what it is about Valentine that keeps bringing Reed back to his door, other than Valentine’s willingness to have sex with him. Valentine is icy and although he starts to thaw a bit each time he is with Reed, they are together only a handful of times. There is no clear passage of time set for the story, but it is only a couple of weeks. Reed gets very caught up in wanting to be with Valentine very quickly, but Valentine treats him as nothing more than a client for most of the time. There is not enough time for a real relationship to develop and any emotional attachment was just not leaping off the pages.
The issue of condoms is never brought up. Not when Valentine is servicing the court or when he is with Reed. The society they are in no longer uses dental records or DNA as a means of identification, so I thought that perhaps there is no need for condoms any longer as well. However, Valentine is taunted by a soldier for being a whore and for the potential diseases he may carry. The disease issue is so very briefly touched on, but it is not clear if they really are at risk for diseases. It was never made clear if there is just no need for condoms or if they just don’t use them for reasons that are not discussed.
When Valentine is recalled for a more honourable position at court, it is to be an assassin instead of a courtesan. But now he can’t stop thinking about wanting a life with Reed. The shift in his thought process was quick and there was not enough time to fully explore it. If Valentine turns down the position, the consequences are possible death to himself and those he cares about. He basically has no choice. Due to a series of events, Valentine is able to flee his life and Reed becomes an accomplice. I was never able to get the sense that they really wanted to spend their lives together, but just wanted to escape their current situations and are now bound together by circumstance. As they disappear from their lives, I took that as the flight that the title of the story depicts. There is nothing easy about their lives or their flight to a new place, however.
I had a really hard time with this book. The published description really did catch my attention and I had high expectations for a truly great story. It’s not a book for science fiction fans as the society is not fully (or maybe even partially) rendered. It’s not a book for those looking for a true emotional love story either, and unfortunately I would not know who to recommend this book to.