Rating: 2.75 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novel

 

Jericho Goldsmith is in a difficult spot. Having allowed two of his family’s three servants to finally retire, he has no way of hiring anyone to replace them, and neither he nor his father can manage their giant house with no staff. Jericho’s one hope is to ask his uncle for money with which to hire new staff and, more importantly, to stake a claim on a promising vein of gold Jericho found out on the mountains. But with no proof that the vein is big enough to be worth the effort to haul up machines and pay men to mine it, his uncle declines.

With no other choice, Jericho goes to the slave markets. Buying and owning a slave is something no Goldsmith would ever do. It’s wrong to own people, for all that everyone else does it, but needs must. Jericho ends up buying Tenzin, a small, skinny boy with enormous eyes — eyes that make Jericho’s cock twitch. Tenzin claims he’s not lazy, which is a good thing, because he has an entire mansion to clean by himself.

Tenzin has been a slave for six years, now. He’s been overworked, underfed, beaten, raped, bought, and sold. Just because Jericho claims to be different doesn’t mean he will be and, when he’s proven right, Tenzin runs away, only to be rescued. Again and again, Tenzin finds himself needing rescue from his previous masters, from slave catchers, from evil cooks and mountain birds … and again and again, Jericho is there to rescue him.

It’s only natural for Tenzin to end up in his master’s bed, where he finds strong, warm arms to hold him. However, even as Tenzin has accepted his place at Jericho’s side, the Goldsmith family intervenes to pull them apart. A man loving another man is bad enough; a senator loving a slave? No, absolutely not. Will Jericho be able to save Tenzin one last time?

For this review, I’m going to start with the good things first. The world building in this book is actually very well done. Pleione, the planet Tenzin and Jericho live on, is made up of colonists who fled Earth to come to a new world that they terraformed and settled using a Roman-adjacent caste system, which has Senators at the top and serfs and slaves at the bottom. All of the societal issues, the political power dynamics, and the rivalries between the various houses plays out smoothly, and much of that can be attributed to the writing, which is clean and clear.

Tenzin is eighteen (maybe nineteen; he doesn’t remember exactly), but he reads as much younger, which is not helped by him constantly being called ‘boy’ by almost everyone around him. Tenzin is used to obeying, because disobeying only gets him beaten. When told to take off his clothes, he can only think of one reason, so he lays himself out over the bed. When Jericho kisses him, Tenzin goes along with it, because that’s what a slave does. Throughout virtually their whole relationship, Tenzin is a slave. A slave with no rights, no protections, and no reason to trust Jericho.

When Jericho bought him, he took the collar off of him, promising he’d never wear it again … only to have Tenzin wear a new, fancier collar a day later. Jericho burns Tenzin’s things, but cheerfully replaces them with something better once he realizes Tenzin losing everything he owned upset him. He promises to buy Tenzin shoes, but never does. Tenzin has to buy his own shoes. Again and again, Jericho says things, only to retract them. He’s happy one minute, yelling at Tenzin the next. He wants Tenzin to come to his room so he can fuck him, but he wants the slave to do it of his own volition … while he’s a slave, without the ability to consent. Jericho takes constant advantage of Tenzin’s status as slave, of their power dynamic of master and slave, and yet when anyone points out that Tenzin should really be freed — like Jericho promised — Jericho can think of a dozen reasons why not.

Jericho seems to love Tenzin for three reasons: He’s pretty, he’s fuckable, and people keep trying to take him away … which makes Jericho only want him more. My discomfort and dislike of this dynamic is only exacerbated by just how young, innocent, and and powerless Tenzin is. This is not a dynamic I enjoy, and it did color my feelings about the book.

However, again, the world building and writing are there. It is just this relationship that really didn’t work for me. Jericho was wrapped in a red flag from start to finish. I’ll keep an eye on this author and maybe try a future work, but I cannot recommend this one in particular.