Rating: 5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
I must readily admit that I have sat staring at the computer screen for two days now attempting to put into words my thoughts on the novel, Release by A.M. Sexton. I should begin by reiterating the warning at the bottom of the blurb about this book. There are indeed graphic descriptions of violent sexual acts that can be considered either dub con (dubious consent) or non-con (non–consensual) in this story. There is angst, lots of it, and while the violence level of those sexual encounters escalates, I never found it to be either obligatory or irrelevant to the story. Now, since I have given you all the pertinent information, I must, as an honest reviewer, go one step further and tell you had I known all the aforementioned, I probably would have given this one a pass, and regretted it—so very much.
Our hero is a street rat living in an alternate world called Davlova where goddesses are still revered and corruption within the government is widespread. There are numerous whorehouses and clutches of thieves living in the filth that is the lower class. Misha is one such thief. When a wealthy client comes to his boss asking for a boy to disguise himself as a whore in order to gather information on a wealthy businessman, Misha is asked to go. Reluctantly he agrees to be Miguel Donato’s whore for hire and report back to his Mistress. Thus begins a dark and terrible journey for our poor young hero that will place him in the clutches of a powerful man who flips back and forth between a twisted psychopath and a doting lover. Misha finds himself falling in love with the latter and trying to excuse the violence of the former by attempting to convince himself he deserves no better. It is this deep and terribly sad war within Misha that left me breathless at times.
A.M. Sexton reveals the brokenness within Misha piece by piece. As he seems to fall further and further into an almost Stockholm Syndrome-like relationship with Donato, you begin to fear that it will only be Misha’s death at the hands of this madman that will set him free from his tortured existence. Then the author goes one step further and introduces a sexual slave from what was thought to be a mythical place, aptly named “the Dollhouse.” Sweet, innocent Ayo has been genetically re-engineered to bear copious amounts of physical and sexual pain and revel in them—taking pleasure in them that is so palpable you feel almost voyeuristic reading about his intense emotions. At the same time you are horrified at the abuse Donato heaps on the boy and when it is revealed that Donato has in his possession the word that will give Ayo much needed physical release and refuses to use it, you realize with much horror Miguel Donato’s total depravity. It is Ayo and his plight, however, that finally break through to Misha and convinces him that he and Ayo must escape for this madman at any cost. With revolution brewing and corruption on the rise, the only question is will Misha and Ayo survive to see a better day?
This story was stunning. Author A.M. Sexton took me places in this novel that I never imagined. I was emotionally wrung out by the end of this story and I have to give all the credit to the remarkable talent of this author to create characters that leapt off the page and a gripping surrealistic story that never relented in its pacing or intensity. Was there violence that left me nearly emotionally shattered? Yes. Were there sexual encounters that had me intoxicated and repulsed almost simultaneously? Yes. Was their woundedness and desperation the likes of which I have rarely witnessed before in characters? Imaginary heroes and villains that were the closest one could come to living, breathing realities in a fictional tale? Oh, my yes. Was all this angst and searing, gritty pain worth the turmoil I felt reading this story? Most decidedly, YES! Release by A.M. Sexton will no doubt receive the gamut of reviews with widely varying ratings. For some who love this type of novel there will be shouts of “well done” and along side those will be people who simply could not understand the need for such graphic depictions of violence and abuse. I ask you to recall the last sentence in my first paragraph. I would have been one of those to take a pass on this type of story and I can honestly assure you that would have been a grave mistake. Instead I encourage you, if at all possible, to make your own decision and give this one a try. I highly recommend it to you.