Life on the Earth-colonized planet Seven has always been tough and the Travian occupation hasn’t made anything easier. The Travians are physically imposing and they have the resources to destroy human life if they so choose. Tired of feeling helpless, William “Wid” Bryant joins a handful of other young men in trashing a Travian office. Not surprisingly, the Travians don’t take kindly to the act. Wid and the rest of the men quickly find themselves captured, transported to a Travian battleship, and gifted to alien officers as sexual pets.
Kell, captain of the battleship, doesn’t want a sex slave, but to reject the gift would mean gravely insulting his higher command. So he accepts Wid and quickly finds himself captivated by the defiant human. Wid comes to love his captor, but he and the other humans are determined to regain their freedom. Before they can do so, a cruel Travian threatens the lives of Kell, his most trusted officers, and the slaves. As Kell and Wid devise a dangerous plan to save the ship, they realize they have found romance amidst the chaos, but they will have to live long enough to enjoy it.
The Captain’s Pet is a fast-paced space romp that introduces the reader to an intriguing alien society and a group of plucky humans living in the darkest reaches of space. But a weak plot and multiple scenes of non-con left me underwhelmed and even angry.
The Travians are a race of physically powerful aliens that have taken umbrage to the human colonization of a planet in their territory. Thiers is a matriarchal society where the women rule and the men serve as warriors. Women are treated with the upmost respect (males routinely bow to them, even their mates and daughters) and they can choose their mates at will and have absolute authority over the children. I appreciated the author providing a unique twist on the alien trope and doing so in a way that read as natural and never ridiculous or out of place. Plus its always nice to see women get their due in the power department, even in a fictional setting.
The human slaves, including Wid, are interesting bunch and even if their actions don’t always seem realistic, you can’t help rooting for them. They protect one another, cleverly manipulate their captors, and take more than a few risks in order to retain some measure of freedom.
The plot of The Captain’s Pet is fairly tired and there is nothing particularly fresh here. There is certainly more sex on page than actual plot or character development and, while the narrative is solidly written, it didn’t do much to capture my interest beyond the exploration of Travian society. But the real sour note of the book is a result of repetitive and unnecessary on page scenes of non-con between the main characters. I feel odd saying that occasionally non-con in a novel has purpose, but I do realize that authors often use these situations to establish character histories or as traumatic events that drive the narrative forward. I am always cautious when I pick up a book that contains non-con, but usually I find there is a reason the authors incorporate it into their narrative. Unfortunately, in The Captain’s Pet there are far too many scenes of rape for no reason other than to inflict pain upon many of the characters. This behavior just reads as violence for the sake of violence and it doesn’t make Kell, one of the main protagonists, very appealing. We’re told that he would much rather have a willing bed partner, but that doesn’t stop him from routinely abusing Wid for most of the book. As a result of this frequent non-con behavior, I found it very difficult to believe that Wid could ever fall in love with Kell. Most of their interactions felt forced and staged, without believable emotion or any real sense of romance. Most of the book Wid is trying to escape, but then he suddenly confesses his love for Kell, which fails to ring true and felt like a weak attempt to force a happy ever after into a situation that had been far from happy. Additionally, the author appeared to portray a consensual slave/master relationship as a natural extension of rape. While this may not have been the author’s intent, it resulted in an offensive misrepresentation that really left me fuming.
While The Captain’s Pet has several strong points, the gratuitous depictions of rape, as well as a plot that failed to amount to much of anything, resulted in a pretty disappointing read. Unfortunately I can’t give this one much of a recommendation.