Author: Kate Aaron
Title: The Slave
Series: Free Men 1
Pairing: M/M/M, Poly
Rating: Four Petals
On the Author's Website:
Freedom is only an illusion.
At twenty-seven, Tamelik has been a slave more than half his life. Submissive by nature, he can’t help but fall in love with the master who treats him kindly.
When the mistress walks out, Tam dares to hope his love will be enough.
Then he’s ordered to purchase another slave.
He wants to hate Kai for being unruly and ungrateful. For being of the same race as the men who murdered his family. For being his eventual replacement in their master’s bed. But it’s hard to hate a man who cries himself to sleep, flinches at the slightest touch, and blushes beautifully when he’s kissed.
True to the title, this book contains slavery. I know that bothers some people, so I wanted to get the warning out of the way first. Tam is a slave in love with his master, so when he is suddenly sent to purchase another slave Tam doesn't know what to think. Is he being replaced? Is his master suddenly tired of him? There were plenty of hints of Stockholm syndrome, with Tam being so young when he was purchased, but Aaron made it very clear that Tam was an adult before he became a pleasure slave. It was a delicate balance between slavery, where Tam clearly doesn't have a choice because he is owned, and love evidenced by the way they treat each other.
Enter Kai, a soldier captured, sent into slavery, and purchased by Tam. He's angry, scared, and aggressive, but from the first I could tell he had a good heart. Again, there were hints of Stockholm as Kai starts to settle in, but he settles slowly in a way that I could believe he fit in with Tam and Master's already set relationship.
The reason this book didn't receive five petals was the love. I didn't quite believe it. Like I said, Stockholm syndrome is there, but the real issue I had was that their love blossomed only in the bedroom. I liked those scenes with Kai first learning to touch Tam, then learning to touch Master, and finally allowing Master to touch him back, but there wasn't enough of similar growth outside of sex. There was one nice scene at the pool and another half-scene when Kai is practicing, but I needed just a touch more to be satisfied. However, reading the summary of the next book in the series tells me that I might be about to get just that if I'm patient.
I liked reading this story and do recommend it. The characters were all interesting and the burn of their relationship was really fun to read. There wasn't enough growth between them outside of the bedroom, which is the only reason I didn't give this story five petals.
Maggie reviews paranormal and fantasy novels and novellas. She also interviews authors and hosts giveaways.