My rating: 4 of 5 stars
spoiler alert ** What an interesting premise! I'm really enjoying this book, but then I'm a sucker for both sci-fi and m/m :D
It's also interesting in mirroring of human rights throughout history. In this future world where humans have populated the stars, empaths started out as test tube creations with no rights who bonded to an 'anchor'. They were tools, much like drones, human tools to be used by politicians and the unscrupulous because when an empath bonded to an anchor they became so invested in the anchor that they would do anything to please them. And humans are nasty and brutish and more than willing to take advantage of that so there was a huge black market to buy and sell empaths for all sorts of things, including as sex slaves.
But as those first generations of empaths had children and the genetic trait was passed on and eventually, humanity was forced to recognize that empaths were human beings with autonomy and not just a tool to be used.
This book starts with an interesting debate on the practice of 'buying' an empath between the main character, Cole, and his friend who happens to be from a wealthy family. The friend's sister is shopping around for an empath, a practice Cole finds disgusting. The friend, being the black sheep of a wealthy industrial family, finds his family's attitude amoral as well. The conversation ends and Cole thinks nothing of it... until approached by another co-worker who overheard the conversation for a private discussion.
The co-worker has a cousin who is an empath in need of an anchor and he wants to find his cousin a _good_ anchor. The very fact that Cole was disgusted by the behavior and had no desire to be an anchor was what brought him to the man's attention. Out of courtesy Cole agrees to meet the cousin, Aiden, and finds himself falling for the other man _despite_ him being an empath, not because he was; and the attraction is mutual. But Aiden is on a timeline. He has to bond to an anchor with months or go mad.
The couple slowly falling for each other, Cole always aware of the ever-looming timeline. He spends his time away from Aiden pondering the weighty responsibility of becoming an anchor but an unscrupulous friend of a friend causes that timeline to speed up drastically when Aiden is kidnapped and an injected with a drug meant to force an empath into bonding prematurely.
It is only when he receives the news that Aiden has been kidnapped that Cole realizes all his worry and self-doubt was unnecessary. He was in love with Aiden, empathy and all. Now he can only hope he gets the chance to tell him.
It was a well-written and thoughtfully thought out book. I love how the rights of empaths mirrored struggles of previous generations - the emancipation of women, the end of slavery and the struggles of segregation. I will definitely be reading book 2!
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