…we're keeping our name but expanding our offerings!
During New Author Spotlight Week, we challenged our review team each to pick an author they’ve never read (“new-to-me”) from the list of those first-time-published in 2013, and read/review their book…
Life was never the same again after The Fall, especially for those born with certain gifts that set them apart from others. Gifts that doomed those like Wren to a life of slavery with no hope of escape or turned a man like Jere into an unwilling master. When a fiery tragedy brings Jere into Wren’s life it becomes clear that this new master is like nobody else Wren has ever known. How does a slave protect himself from someone unpredictable? Can love really exist between master and slave, or will it destroy them both? (M/M – For content labels and excerpt, see details on publisher’s site.)
It wasn’t easy finding a debut author of 2013 that our team hasn’t read and reviewed yet. I discarded sample after sample in search of a decent read. And then I found this one; an interesting and compelling piece of slave fiction that turned out to be something totally unexpected, which is always good where I’m concerned. How this author, a winner of The Rainbow award for Best debut gay Sci-fi (2013) has flown under our radar for almost a year is beyond me. Alicia Cameron is good. Very good!
She sets this story in an alternative/dystopian world, using paranormal elements to create and separate a country into slave and non-slave states. She brings together two men from each state to deliver a non typical Master/slave dynamic, more a reluctant and awkward one. I found a similar dynamic in Violet and The Tom. But this is a healing hearts story infused with the horrors of Wren’s past abuse and the current abuse of other slaves like him. Jere is a passive man, a gifted healer from a non slave state who is not designed to be anyone’s Master so when he finds himself inheriting a slave along with a new life …let’s say that he has a lot to learn.
Hojer is a state with laws designed to protect the Geoffrey Dahmer’s of society. It would seem it’s okay to torture, maim and rape your slave, starve him, beat him and then offer him up to your house guests for a casual fuck-fest, but God forbid you cuddle him or seat him at the table to eat real food! Jesus! There are laws that the too naïve and too passive Jere has to grasp to keep his slave safe while protecting his own status as Master and Doctor.
Now all that is secondary, because Inherent Gifts is at heart, a tender and moving love story between a reluctant Master and his broken slave. Jere treats Wren like an equal coaxing him to trust with patience and kindness. Wren is special, he’s strong and gifted and … he broke my freaking heart! His anger at being a slave and his past abuse is always bubbling under the surface. It’s not until Jere gives him back his humanity (as much as he can) his choices and his power that Wren really begins to shine. You can expect a romance that simmers and builds with gentle touches, sweet-sweet kisses and then more, so much more! Cameron is truly adept at using the emotions of need, fear and wary trust to heighten the eroticism. She gives each encounter a purpose that’s rich with feeling and sentiment for both our MC’s and the reader.
There is much to admire here: as the author provides a three dimensional look at the structure and sociology of this slave state with secondary characters who represent the extreme liberal left, the punishing narcissistic right and those who are oh-so ambivalent about the dreadful treatment of slaves. The writing is strong, professional and I never would have guessed that this was a debut novel (I had to check and double check) it is that well-constructed.
A lot of what I loved and admired about this story is the same as what irked me, because I’m the kind of impatient reader that needs action, like now. The time spent on cultivating a genuine and credible affection between Wren and Jere is a long slow test of patience (namely mine-ha!) but I understand the need for it, it’s the only credible way to spin a story like this. I wasn’t completely sold on what occurs toward the end, infact I didn’t quite understand it at all, but maybe that’s just me. So, be prepared for the mother of all slow burns that in the end will be worth it. Be prepared to bear Wren’s recollections of torture and abuse. Be prepared to feel very angry at this callous society and just, you know …be prepared. It’s not all hearts and flowers.
It’s obvious that the author is setting up this romance and this world for a series. You can however read it as a standalone, there is no cliff hanger but there is a heavy feeling, a foreboding if you like that leaves me feeling anxious and only mildly satisfied with the HFN ending.
Alicia Cameron is not to be disregarded. She is a great writer! I recommend this for those who love slave fiction, healing hearts and the study of sociology. I really liked this one, slow build and all.
RATING: 3.5 STARS
Title: Inherent Gifts
Author: Alicia Cameron
Publisher: Fantastic Fiction Publishing
Pages: 165 000 words
Release Date: 31 January 2013
Purchase Links: Fantastic Fiction Publishing