Jace is a werewolf, held captive by the Enforcers for confessing to helping the Rebellion, but Jace is innocent and is merely protecting his pack leader. The only thing that Jace is guilty of is falling in love with the man he isolated himself from the pack for, the man who abused Jace and betrayed him by handing information to the supernaturals in authority who ensure that the “status quo” of their society remains intact.
Jace prepares himself for death, but instead he is bought by Elias, a powerful witch, who is intent on mentally breaking and controlling Jace by using him as a pet and sexually tormenting him.
Bought is the first in R. Phoenix’s Ripples in the Status Quo series. This week’s challenge for our Reading Challenge Month was to choose a new-to-me author and admittedly there were many authors I could have picked, but Phoenix is someone who I have recently heard much about on social media. Bought is only nine chapters long, which means that Phoenix has little time for complex world-building, despite the fact that this is a society very different from that of the reader. However, Bought is not really about this paranormal world; the story centers on the characters themselves and Elias’ evil intentions versus Jace’s defiance and courage.
Phoenix’s characterization is really successful. Elias is hateful because he is a masochist and I spent most of the novella wishing Jace could shift and rip his throat out! Jace is likeable because he has surrendered himself and even though blind love is clearly his weakness, we respond to his pain and the hopelessness of his situation.
Bought is definitely a story aimed at an adult audience. It is not a romance, although Jace and Spencer’s relationship is a secondary issue. Jace is kept caged up in Elias’ bedroom and the witch’s magic keeps him in human form. Jace is humiliated, not only because he has to refer to the man he detests as “master,” but he is forced to wear a collar and tail and subjected to a number of sexual acts. Bought certainly has graphic scenes and I am not a huge fan of erotica, but I felt Phoenix was able to enrich the sex by including Jace’s subconscious thoughts and I loved the fact that despite Elias’ constant cruelty, Jace’s contempt manifests through his challenging sarcasm:
“I’ve always wanted a dog,” Elias stated, and Jace shuddered at the sight of the witch’s smile. Had he ever seen something so casually malicious before?
“So get a fucking dog.” Hadn’t they already been over this? “Master.“
I knew Bought was a novella before I started, so to say it was too short would be wrong of me, but I would have liked a little more resolution, particularly when I discovered that the second story, Ravel, moves away from Elias and Jace. I have no doubt, though, that Phoenix will tie the series together in her own way.
In my opinion, the point of this week’s challenge is to discover a new author whose books I would like to read more of. Phoenix’s Ripples in the Staus Quo series is one I will definitely continue with, partly because I like character-driven stories, but also because I have been intrigued by Bought and its supernatural world.
This review is part of our September Reading Challenge Month for New-to-Me Author Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win a fabulous prize from Interlude Press. One lucky winner will receive a selection of signed print books, as well as a variety of ebooks by authors new to Interlude Press this year. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a loaded Kindle fire filled with DSP books!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on New-to-Me Author Week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more about the awesome prizes!